Art of the American West
Click To Enlarge
Karl Bodmer (Swiss, 1809–1893),
Péhriska-Rúhpa, Hidatsa Man , 1833
watercolor and graphite on paper, 15 7/8 × 11 1/2 in.
Gift of the Enron Art Foundation, 1986.49.390. 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.

This painting of Péhriska-Rúhpa (Two Ravens) not only shows his importance, but also gives a great example of the style of clothing men of this nation would acquire and wear. As a “headsmen” of the male society, he either had the best clothing articles made by one of his wives (who were often sisters) or traded for them. You can see the pride, determination, and leadership in Péhriska-Rúhpa’s stance. He carries a pipe that is most likely in two parts, a stem and a pipe with lead inlays. The extra-long stem symbolizes the pipe’s importance and has decorative human and horse hair attached, as well as flattened porcupine quills. Every item he wears is a symbol of who he is, from the eagle feather in his hair, which speaks to his war deeds, to his beaded moccasins.

Gerard Baker, Yellow Wolf
Assistant Director, American Indian Relations, National Park Service (retired)

Art Work Info Divider