BODMER, Karl (1809-1893) – MAXIMILIAN ZU WIED-NEUWIED, Prince Alexander (1782-1867). Voyage dans l’intérieur de l’Amérique du Nord executé pendant les années 1832, 1833, et 1834. Paris: Arthus Bertrand, 1840-1843.
The first French edition of the best illustrated travel book to the American West, with contemporary hand-coloring of 24 plates including all of the portraits of Native American individuals. Karl Bodmer, a Swiss artist then in his early twenties, was employed by the scientist Prince Maximilian to record his travels among the American tribes of the Plains, reaching as far west as Fort Mackenzie and the Blackfoot tribe of Montana. On their return to Europe, “Maximillian finally realized that, in his careful observations and hundreds of exotic watercolors and sketches Bodmer created, he possessed a priceless cache of ethnographic and historical information that would add much to the scientific literature about North America, and he set about producing one of the last of the great illustrated books of the Enlightenment as well as a thoroughly romantic document of his North American expedition. His publishers would have preferred a light travel journal, illustrated with a few lithographs, but Maximillian remained true to his purpose and planned [this] multivolume work accompanied by a deluxe atlas (with outspoken Bodmer’s encouragement) containing the finest engravings that Paris craftsmen could produce” (Tyler, “Karl Bodmer and the American West,” in Ruud). Bodmer's plates depict the scenery, villages, dances and, most outstandingly, the hand-colored portraits of individuals from various tribes: his portrait of Pehriska-Rupha, the "Moennitarri warrior in the costume of the Dog danse" is one of the greatest icons of a vanished way of life. These were also the first accurate depictions of Native Americans to reach the larger public. Abbey Travel 615 (English ed); Howes M-443; Ruud, ed., Karl Bodmer's North American Prints, pp. 77-321; Wagner-Camp 76:2.
Four volumes comprising three octavo text volumes (230 x 145mm) and a folio atlas (595 x 430mm). Text with wood-engraved illustrations, map of Fort Clark, and a large folding route map hand-colored in outline (long closed tear to folding map); atlas with 81 engraved and aquatint plates comprising 48 “tableaux” of which 19 are hand-colored and 31 “vignettes” printed on the same size sheet as the tableaux of which 5 are hand-colored; the 24 hand-colored plates also heightened with gum arabic; all but one plate (tab. 61) with the Bodmer blindstamp below caption, by various engravers, all in early states and almost all in state one or two, as expected in the French edition [i.e. with the English-language captions but before the imprints were dated] (scattered mostly marginal spotting and occasional stains or toning, some spotting in image of pls. 1, 64, 77 and vig. 27, pls. 70-71 browned, vig. 10 with offsetting in image). Contemporary quarter morocco, spine gilt-ruled, binder’s tickets of A. Varicault (spines sunned, minor rubbing). Provenance: “P.-M.” (gilt-stamped initials at foot of each spine).