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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas

Herds of Bisons and Elks on the upper Missouri

From "Voyage dans l’intérieur de l’Amérique du Nord, executé pendant les années 1832, 1833 et 1834, par le prince Maximilien de Wied-Neuwied" (Paris & Coblenz, 1839-1843)

Artist: Karl Bodmer (Swiss, 1809 - 1893)
Author: Prince Maximilian of Wied (1782 - 1867)
Date: 1832-1834
17 1/4 × 23 1/2 in. (43.8 × 59.7 cm)
Framed: 21 1/4 in. × 25 in. × 1 3/4 in.
mat opening: 12 3/8 × 12 3/4 in. (31.4 × 32.4 cm)
Medium: Hand-colored aquatint
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2009.26.47
Place Depicted:
Not on View
DescriptionDisbound from folio atlas volume of forty-eight plates
Accession Number: 2009.26.47
ProvenanceAuthor; to Frederick Schuchart, NY, 1844; (William Reese Company, New Haven, CT); purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2009
Label TextOn their return trip downriver from Fort McKenzie (in present-day Montana), the westernmost point of their expedition, the explorers reached the mouth of the Judith River on September 16, 1833. Only a month before, they had seen a large encampment of Gros Ventres (or Atsina) in this area. Prince Maximilian explained in his journal: “Since we suspected Indians here, we moved quietly and cautiously.” The travelers admired the unique beauty of the Badland mountains. Two days later they saw a large herd of buffalo along the Missouri shore and Maximilian wrote: "a herd of at least 150 buffalo crowded together moved into the river to drink. The view was most interesting: cows, calves, and bulls mingled; the latter were bellowing mightily and drove the cows. We sat motionless, let the boat drift … Scarcely 60 paces farther, a troop of six cow elk on a sandbar near a small willow island.” Bodmer’s preliminary watercolor and the print correspond with Maximilian’s descriptions and depict in great detail the large buffalo herd descending from the hills into the river and the elk on the sandbank.