Pulled from the original steel and copper plates, engraved in Paris between 1836 and 1843 under Karl Bodmer's direction, after the artist's own watercolours drawn from nature during the journey.
The engravings are hand-printed in colours, à la poupée, with extensive hand-colouring and some application of gum arabic, in the nineteenth-century manner.
Engraved by Salathe
Printed by Bougeard
During the weeks they spent in and around Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, during the late summer of 1832, Prince Maximilian and his companions made frequent excursions into the countryside to study its natural history. On July 27, Maximilian recorded in his journal that he and Bodmer had taken an evening stroll along the Lehigh River beyond the town. On the afternoon of August 4, Maximilian again noted that he had observed a large number of turtles on an island in the river, where Bodmer was sketching. On August 7, on another outing to the Lehigh, Maximilian caught several bullfrogs and Bodmer made watercolor studies of at least two of them.
Three views of Bethlehem, a landscape or river view, and seven drawings of frogs, toads, a turtle, and a salamander, all done at this time, are included in the Joslyn collection in Omaha. The river view is inscribed, "Forest Scene on the Lehigh." Although much of the foreground is indistinct, having apparently been rubbed out, it seems to be the preliminary for the later aquatint published in the atlas.
One of Bodmer's views of Bethlehem also was reproduced in this series as Vignette III.
Two distinct versions of Tableau 1 presently are known. One of these, engraved by Salathe, shows the river as considerably wider than a variant plate owned by Joslyn Art Museum, and includes snags in the middle foreground. Minor differences in the rendering of the foliage, at right, also can be seen in the two engravings. Salathe also included a swampy area in the right foreground which is not featured in either the watercolor or the supposed, later variant at Joslyn, as well as several birds floating upon the water and flying above the trees. No engraver's name is evident on the Joslyn plate.
Text by David Hunt, Director, Stark Museum, Orange, Texas, USA