Art of the American West
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Karl Bodmer (Swiss, 1809–1893),
Noapeh, Assiniboine Man , 1833
watercolor and graphite on paper, 17 1/16 × 11 7/8 in.
Gift of the Enron Art Foundation, 1986.49.253. Photograph © Bruce M. White, 2019
Faces from the Interior: The North American Portraits of Karl Bodmer, is the first Museum project to focus on Bodmer’s watercolor portraits of Indigenous people painted in 1833–34. Numerous Indigenous artists, scholars, and elders from communities that Karl Bodmer and Prince Maximilian visited contributed texts to the exhibition that examine the ongoing challenges and significances of these images of cultural encounter. The exhibition was organized by the Margre H. Durham Center for Western Studies, Joslyn Art Museum, in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Bodmer’s depictions of Assiniboine peoples along the Missouri serve as primary studies of historical beadwork and quillwork practices. This portrait of Noapeh (No Flight), with his buffalo robe draped over his shoulder, tells us he was a respected warrior. His shirt is adorned with pony-trader-blue beaded strips down the arms and a pop of red trade wool around the collar, signifying that he possessed the wealth and status to obtain these items. A quilled rosette sits in the center of his shirt, possibly to emulate the thunder or another power entity, a common practice in warrior regalia. His headdress is customary Assiniboine attire, complete with a split horn adorned with yellow horsehair tips, feathers, and wrapped quillwork extending down the sides.

Jessa Rae Growing Thunder
Fort Peck Assiniboine/Sioux (Sisituwan/Wahpetuwan/Hohe)
Traditional artist, beadwork/quillwork art historian

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