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 Alex Manceau
Printed by Bougeard
Prince Maximilian's company stayed at Fort Clark from early November, 1833 through mid-April, 1834. Bodmer's depiction of their first meeting with members of the Minatari or Hidatsa tribe near the fort, as featured in the European atlas, probably was composed from memory. No earlier field sketches or watercolors relating to this subject presently are known.
The scene presents Prince Maximilian as the central figure of the group at right. Karl Bodmer stands at his left, in a pair of striped trousers. An elderly French trader, Charbonneau, whose Shoshoni wife, Sacajawea, had accompanied Lewis and Clark on their epic journey up the
Missouri in 1804-05, is shown making the introductions between the Europeans and the Hidatsa chief. In the background, several traders observe the meeting from the ramparts of the palisade surrounding the fort.
It has been suggested that perhaps Driedoppel may be represented in one of the faces to be seen peering over the shoulders of Charbonneau or Bodmer.
Once closely related to the Crow, the Hidatsa separated from them when they moved closer to the Mandan and Arikara on the Missouri River, while the Crow moved westward to the Rocky Mountains. After living for some time among the Mandan, the Hidatsa adopted many of their customs and beliefs. The Mandan called them Minitari, meaning "they crossed the water," possibly a reference to the Missouri.
Tableaux 17 through 27 all relate to Bodmer's sojourn at Fort Clark over the winter of 1833-4. Tableaux 17 depicts Hidatsa subjects.
This print has become a favourite with collectors of Bodmer prints. It appears to be out of chronological order in the series, but may have been intended to document the travellers' arrival at Fort Clark on their return downriver in the fall of 1833.
Text by David Hunt, Director, Stark Museum, Orange, Texas, USA