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 jointly by Beyer and Salathe
Printed by Bougeard
Above the mouth of the Arrow River on the afternoon of August 6, 1833, Prince Maximilian recorded in his journal:
"We came to a most remarkable place.. .. At some distance before us the eye fell on an apparently narrow gate, the white walls of the two banks approaching so near to each other, that the river seemed to be very contracted between them."
This was the upper entrance to the area of the Missouri channel known as the Stone Walls, characterized by unusual and often spectacular rock formations.
Based on numerous sketches made from the deck of the boat, Bodmer later produced a watercolor of the scene which subsequently was featured in the atlas of aquatints published in Europe.
Animating the print, but not included in the watercolor in Joslyn's collection, are several Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, at right, which were seen in large numbers at this place, and the solitary figure of a white swan swooping low over the water, at left.
Also at left, in the middle distance, appearing as a darker projection against the surrounding, white strata, is a formation known as La Barge Rock, named for a riverboat captain who plied these waters at a later time.
Frequented today by tourists and photographers, this region of the Missouri appears much the same as it did in Bodmer's day.
Bodmer or his engravers often added human or animals figures to specific scenes during the production of an aquatint in order to provide the viewer with a proper sense of scale or to enhance the composition with focal points of interest. Many of Bodmer's studies of bighorn sheep, bison, antelope, and other animals and birds are included in Joslyn's collection.
Text by David Hunt, Director, Stark Museum, Orange, Texas, USA