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 Himely
Printed by Bougeard
Presented out of chronological sequence in the published series is another of Bodmer's views of the Fox River near New Harmony, Indiana, based on a study made in December, 1832. While staying at New Harmony to recouperate from a recent illness, Maximilian recorded in his journal that Bodmer and Driedoppel went almost daily to explore the Fox and Wabash rivers during the latter weeks of November and early December of that year.
On December 6, Maximilian accompanied Bodmer on an excursion to Fox Island, at the mouth of the Fox River, noting on that date that "Today, Mr. Bodmer made a drawing of an interesting landscape, the estuary of the Fox River into the Wabash." Maximilian described the shallow waters of the Fox as "clear and dark green, the visible ground at the bottom completely covered with shells."
Bodmer's subsequent watercolor emphasized the striking beauty of the tall sycamore trees growing along the riverbank, "shining snow-white in the densely entangled thicket," In the aquatint published in Europe, Bodmer further embellished the scene by adding the figure of an eagle, at left center, and in the branches overhead a flock of Carolina parakeets, a species once numerous throughout the eastern half of the United States, but now extinct.
Some examples of this print are designated by a Roman numeral instead of an Arabic numeral. Early issues of the aquatints were so numbered, although Arabic numerals gradually replaced Roman numerals as the series was completed. In later issues, the larger tableaux all were numbered with Arabic numerals. Roman numerals were retained throughout the publication of the thirty-three vignettes.
Vignette VIII and Tableau 2 of this series featured other views of the area in and around New Harmony.
Text by David Hunt, Director, Stark Museum, Orange, Texas, USA