Karl Bodmer ( 1809-1893), At the Watering Hole
At the Watering Hole
Oil on canvas
19-3/4 x 26 inches
25 1/2 x 32 inches framed
Signed lower right: K Bodmer
Provenance: private collection, Paris, 1983;
Fenn Galleries Ltd., Santa Fe, New Mexico;
Private collection, Arizona.
Karl Bodmer developed a remarkable talent for drawing and painting while studying with his uncle, painter and engraver Johann Jacob Meyer. After further studies in Paris, he joined his brother on a sketching trip through Germany in 1832 where he met Prince Maximilian zu Weid. Maximilian, known for his natural history research in the coastal forests of Brazil, was searching for a professional artist to accompany him on his expedition to North America. Bodmer signed a contract with Maximilian and, three weeks later, they set sail for America.
From 1833-1834, Bodmer created some of the greatest works of his career. The two traveled up the Missouri River, retracing the 1805 journey of Lewis and Clark. On the expedition, Bodmer depicted some of the same characters that George Caitlin had painted just months before. Bodmer was the last artist able to paint the Mandan Indians in North Dakota before the fatal 1837 smallpox epidemic that nearly obliterated the tribe. He also painted portraits of the Sioux, Blackfeet, Hidatsa, and other tribes, while Maximilian conducted studies and made notes on the botany and zoology of the areas. They witnessed the last of the American West before the disruptive intrusion of settlers.
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