Tab 33 - Woman of the Snake Tribe; Woman of the Cree Tribe

Karl Bodmer

Bodmer’s America


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 Paul Legrand
Printed by Bougeard


Two unrelated portraits appear together in this print. The original of the Snake or Shoshoni woman, at left, was painted at Fort McKenzie in September, 1833. She was said to have been captured by the Blackfeet on an earlier raid, which accounts for her presence at the fort, the territory of the Shoshoni being located farther west beyond the mountains. According to Maximilian, she was married to a fur company employee, and had given birth to a child only twelve days before Bodmer painted her portrait.

Bodmer painted two portraits of the Cree wife of another fur company employee at Fort Union in October, 1833, while enroute from Fort McKenzie to Fort Clark. In the likeness reproduced at right, he showed her fashionably attired in face paint, probably put on for the occasion, wearing a native dress of elk hide, a trade blanket over her shoulders, and elaborate earrings made from dentalium shells and blue beads, both of which items were highly prized and widely traded among the tribes on the upper Missouri.

Although an inscription associated with one of the Joslyn portraits seems to imply that the woman at right was an Assiniboin, it is probable that this inscription is a later addition and that the portraits in question are the same referred to by Maximilian as having been painted at Fort Union in the fall of 1833. One of the Joslyn watercolors shows the subject in profile, but wearing the same dress and earrings.

Vignette XXII reproduces Bodmer's portrait of Cree chief, Mahsette-Kuiuab. For additional portraits painted at Fort Union, see also Tableaux 9, 12, and 32. For other portraits painted at Fort McKenzie, see Tableaux 45 and 46.

Text by David Hunt, Director, Stark Museum, Orange, Texas, USA

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Original Print

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