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
Enroute to Fort McKenzie on August 7, 1833, Maximilian recorded in his daily journal that just above the area of the Missouri called the Stone Walls he had glimpsed what he supposed to be the summits of the Rockies in the far distance. Again on September 9, shortly before departing downriver for Fort Union, he reported that he and Bodmer went into the higher hills overlooking the river above Fort McKenzie to paint "the first chain of the Rocky Mountains."
Bodmer's watercolor of this view, based on field studies which actually depict an isolated uplift known today as the Highwood Range, was later featured in the atlas of aquatints that accompanied the publication of Maximilian's text of his travels in North America. Together with another study Bodmer made on September 11 looking northward from the fort toward the Bear Paw Mountains, this watercolor now is included in the Bodmer-Maximilian collection owned by Joslyn Art Museum.
Having been cautioned against staying the winter at Fort McKenzie because of inter-tribal unrest in the area, Maximilian decided to return downriver to Fort Clark. The subsequent journey was made in a small Mackinaw boat containing Maximilian's party, three Canadian trappers, and a helmsman.
Text by David Hunt, Director, Stark Museum, Orange, Texas, USA