Karl Bodmer's view of Bordentown on the Delaware
A fine hand-colored view of the Delaware River near Bordentown, a town located in the U.S. state of New Jersey. The image shows the river and its surroundings, possibly including the town itself and nearby landmarks or features. This view was originally issued as Vignette II 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 art work. 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.
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, Bodmer made two watercolors that served as a basis for this view:
Both works share similiarities, including a small dock in the foreground with the busy activity of a port, a glimpse of Bonaparte's manor house in the distance, and, to its right, a cabin on a high bluff. ..The most prominent embellishments [to appear in the vignette] include the steamship in the water (likely based on Bodmer's numerous depictions of such vessels during the journey), which emphasizes the air of a busy port and tourist destination. To this, add the sailboat in the distance and the assorted coaches, wagons, and horsemen in the foreground, and Bodmer has created a small visual catalogue of contemporary American transportation....Several well-dressed tourists and liveried coach drivers complete the bustle of businessmen and travelers.
The present print is a 1922 restrike done in Leipzig by Schmidt & Guenther, issued on thicker paper than the 19th century examples.