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 versions by Salathe and Weber
Printed by Bougeard
The voyage on the Missouri above St. Louis was slow, at the outset, due in part to the force of the downward current. Progress also was impeded by shallows, sandbars, and vast amounts of driftwood floating downstream. Only a few miles above St. Louis, Prince Maximilian noted in his journal that "large heaps of wood on both sides in the water leave only a narrow channel for us."
Delayed by low water below the mouth of the Kansas River on April 18, the Yellow-Stone arrived at Fort Leavenworth on the 22nd and was boarded by military authorities looking for illegal shipments of whiskey. Above the mouth of the Platte River on May 3, it stopped again at the Indian agency of Bellevue, in Nebraska Territory. The next morning, Maximilian and Bodmer visited Cabanne's trading post, nearby, where Bodmer painted the portraits of several members of the Omaha, Oto, and Missouri tribes who frequented that area.
On May 5, past the abandoned U. S. military post of Fort Atkinson, on the Nebraska side of the river near Council Bluffs, the steamer ran against a sandbar and again was delayed for a day. On the 11th, above the mouth of the Big Sioux River, two Ponca tribesmen came on board. They disembarked the following afternoon at their village, located below the mouth of the Niobrara. Maximilian described this village, also painted by Bodmer, as a small summer encampment.
Several aquatints relate to this portion of the Missouri voyage. Tableau 6 depicts the Yellow-Stone on the snag-infested river. Tableau 7 reproduces the portrait of one of the Ponca men who boarded the steamer en route to the village near the Niobrara.
Also of interest to note: the Fort Atkinson site is located near the Council Bluffs of Lewis and Clark's day, near what is now the town of Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, several miles upstream from the present Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Text by David Hunt, Director, Stark Museum, Orange, Texas, USA