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Karl Bodmer (1809-1893), Tab. 39, Niagara Falls

Karl Bodmer (1809-1893), Tab. 39, Niagara Falls

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BODMER, Karl (1809-1893), “Niagara Falle Les Chutes du Niagara, Niagara Falls” (Paris: Arthur Bertrand, c. 1839)



16 ½ x 21 ½ inches visible, 26 x 31 inches framed. Hand colored aquatint engraving. Marking showing “Tab 39 on upper right, “Lucas Weber” on lower right, “Carl Bodmer pinx” on lower left, and “Paris, Arthur Bertrand, editeur” on the very bottom right.

Provenance: Credit Suisse’s Americana Collection

In 1832 Prince Maximilian of Wied, a German naturalist-explorer, and Karl Bodmer, a Swiss artist, embarked on a journey of discovery to document the landscape and native tribes along the Upper Missouri River. Their voyage was undertaken at a valuable and pivotal moment in American cultural history, as it occurred just before the unspoiled West was to change irrevocably by American explorers and settlers. Bodmer's depiction of the encampments visited, the extraordinary scenery observed, and his portraits of Blackfeet, Crow, Cree, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Sioux Indians have been recognized as one of the finest records of Indian life ever produced.

This splendid view of Niagara Falls was published  as part of this remarkable expedition.

Bodmer saw the Falls for the first time on 28 June 1834 and was clearly inspired by the scenic splendor of one of the great natural wonders of the world. The travelers had reached the Falls towards the end of their expedition. Leaving Vincennes, Indiana, on about 11 June, they had traveled east, arriving on the Ohio opposite Louisville, Kentucky. Here they boarded a ship for Cincinnati and Portsmouth following the route of the Ohio Canal along the Scioto River north to Cleveland on Lake Erie. They then took a steamboat to Buffalo, New York. Bodmer and Maximilian returned to Europe in 1834, where Bodmer spent several years supervising the engraving and printing of his images of the journey. They were published in Paris between 1839 and 1843 as Travels in the Interior of North America 1832–1834.

Niagara Falls remained a favorite subject of artists throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, but the present image is arguably the finest to appear in print, as Bodmer shows great technical virtuosity and gives us a breathtaking vision of this world- famous natural wonder at its most unspoiled and pristine.

You are warmly invited to visit our gallery at 1016 Madison Avenue in New York City to view this work whenever it might be convenient.

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