Bodmer's View of Fort Pierre
A fine hand-colored bird's-eye view of Fort Pierre (in present-day South Dakota) by Karl Bodmer. This view was originally issued as Tableau 10 of Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied's monumental pictorial work of the American West, Reise in das innere Nord-America in den Jaren 1832 bis 1834, or Travels in the Interior of North America, 1832-34, which was illustrated with aquatint engravings after Karl Bodmer's magnificent original artwork. The work included detailed and accurate depictions of the landscapes, peoples, and cultures encountered by Bodmer during his journey, and is considered an important record of the American West during this time period.
According to Brandon K. Ruud, this scene was based on Bodmer's stays in Fort Pierre in 1833 and 1834:
Maximilian and Bodmer stayed four days at Fort Pierre in June 1833 and returned for a comparable visit in April 1834. Bodmer's far view of the fort shows scattered encampments of Sioux outside the walls surrounding the post. The galloping horses at the lower left are related in spirit to the racing scene depicted in Vignette XXX.
Maximilian’s American travel account first appeared in German (1839-41), followed by a French translation in 1840-43 and an English edition in 1843. The Paris-issued pictorial atlas contained eighty-one aquatint plates (48 "imperial" folios and 33 smaller "vignette" plates often called quarto in size), engraved and etched on metal sheets, after paintings by Karl Bodmer, and which accompanied all three editions. The plates are outstanding authentic depictions of the western plains and Native Americans by a highly skilled European artist. Bodmer avoided romanticizing his subjects, and attempted to record the people and places he encountered as true to life as possible.
The present print is a 1922 restrike from the original plate done in Leipzig by Schmidt & Guenther, issued on thicker vellum paper than the 19th-century examples.