Art of the American West
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Karl Bodmer (Swiss, 1809-1893),
Mih-Tutta-Hang-Kusch, Mandan Village , 1834
watercolor on paper, 11¼ x 16 5/8 inches, 28.58 x 42.23 cm
Gift of Enron Art Foundation, 1986.49.382

Karl Bodmer produced a large body of drawings and watercolors descriptive of his 1832–34 travels in North America with the German naturalist Maximilian, Prince of Wied Neuweid. Most of these works are now owned by Joslyn Art Museum and, along with Maximilian’s hand-written journals and related materials, form the renowned Maximilian-Bodmer Collection. A native of Zurich, Bodmer received his first instruction in art from an uncle. With his elder brother, he later visited the German Rhineland, where he came to the attention of Maximilian zu Wied. An experienced traveler who had earlier explored in Brazil, Maximilian was anxious to insure that an accurate visual record be made of his intended survey of the United States and its western territories.

Maximilian and Bodmer spent the winter of 1833–34 at Fort Clark, an American Fur Company post on the upper Missouri River. During this period there was a constant coming and going of people between the fort and the neighboring Mandan settlements. Bodmer’s view of the frozen landscape, made in February 1834, depicts such a scene, with Fort Clark and the Mandan summer village of Mih-Tutta-Hang-Kusch just discernible on the bluff across the river. According to Maximilian, that winter was unusually severe. Game became scarce and occupants of the fort were reduced to a diet of cornmeal and biscuit. Maximilian came down with scurvy and had to discontinue the Mandan grammar he had hoped to complete. The actual site, near the modern Bismarck, North Dakota, is occupied today by an electricity generating plant.

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