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 in two distinct versions by Salathe and Weber
Printed by Bougeard
The aquatint reproducing Bodmer's view of the landscape at the junction of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers was derived from a watercolor he composed in Europe from earlier field sketches. Made during one or another of the artist's stops at Fort Union, located nearby, but not pictured, the scene presents a broad panorama of eroded bluffs and an empty expanse of rolling prairie beyond, devoid of life except for a few birds, at left, and the figures of antelope or deer, at lower right, which were not featured in the watercolor.
At least two versions of this print are known, showing minor differences in foreground details. The earlier plate by Salathe does not include the depiction of a bleached bison skull visible in the lower left foreground of the print credited to Weber. There is also a very slight difference between the two versions in the positioning of the birds, at upper left. Some variation in the foliage, at left, also is apparent.
For a view of Fort Union, see Tableau 28 in this series. Other studies of the remarkable landscape of the upper Missouri above Fort Union are reproduced in Tableaux 35, 41 and 44.
Text by David Hunt, Director, Stark Museum, Orange, Texas, USA