Sih-Chida & Mahchsi-Karehde. Mandan Indians

£2,500

Finely hand coloured aquatint by Hürlimann afer Bodmer, heightened by gum arabic, 610 x 410mm, London, Ackermann, 1841

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Finely hand coloured aquatint by Hürlimann afer Bodmer, heightened by gum arabic, 610 x 410mm, London, Ackermann, 1841

A full-length double portrait by Bodmer from ‘Reise in das innere Nord-America’. In 1832, the German prince, Maximilian of Wied, organized an expedition to explore the region along the Missouri River. He was accompanied by Karl Bodmer, a young Swiss artist, who recorded in pictorial form all he observed. Following the Lewis & Clark trail up the Missouri River, they traveled 5,000 miles during the course of a year. Maximilian kept detailed notes on a day-by-day basis for his book, which was published c.1839-44 in Coblenz and London.

On the left stands Sih-Chida (‘Yellow Feather’), a young warrior, in the costume of the Mandan Dog Society. Fascinated by the work of the two foreigners, his portrait was carried out over three days in early December 1833. On the right stands Mahchsi-Karehde (‘Flying War Eagle’), a member of the Soldier Society, which regulated all important tribal affairs. Bodmer describes him as the “tallest Mandan”, at just over six feet. He also took great interest in Bodmer’s drawings, frequently bringing friends to look at Bodmer’s work. Karl Bodmer’s studies of villages, landscapes, and portraits of Indian life are regarded today as the finest picture histories of the western frontier at that time. The portraits are particularly notable for their capturing of individual personalities, as well as forming a primary account of what became virtually lost cultures.

Graff 4648; Howes M443a; Pilling 2521; Sabin 47014; Wagner-Camp 76:1.

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