Mandan Chief Mató-Tópe's Buffalo Robe
An impressive hand-colored print from Karl Bodmer's famous visual atlas illustrating Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied's travels in North America. This print is a beautifuly composed record of Native American pictorial art and artifact. The center piece here is the exquisitely decorated buffalo robe created by the Mandan Chief Mató-Tópe. The robe depicts his exploits, including a battle with a Cheyenne Chief. The original robe was acquired by Prince Maximilian and is now in the Linden-Museum in Stuttgart. Several other Native American weapons and tools surround the robe, including a knife in a fine bead-fringed scabbard, a pipe owned by Dipäuch, an elder of the Mandan tribe, as well as a snow shoe.
Maximilian’s monumental 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.
According to Brandon K. Ruud, many of the Native American artifacts depicted in this plate (Tableau 21) are now in the collections of either the Museum für Völkerkunde in Berlin or the Linden-Museum in Stuttgart.
The atlas was reprinted in 1844 by the London engraver Edward Lumley. The present version is from the 1922 Leipzig edition, restruck from the original plates on paper that was thicker than the 19th-century examples.