Click the Image to Enlarge

Bodmer, Karl Mouth of the Fox River, 1839


Karl Bodmer was a native of Switzerland and trained with his uncle, an engraver and watercolorist. In his early twenties, Bodmer came to the United States with Prussian Prince Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied. Prince Maximilian visited Indiana—including New Harmony and Vincennes—at various times between 1832 and 1834 to gather information for a book, which Bodmer illustrated.

Prince Maximilian was a naturalist drawn to the unspoiled wilderness of the United States, like many Europeans of the day. He took more than a thousand pages of notes, and Bodmer created hundreds of sketches and watercolors of the people and places they saw. Their work is historically important because it combined the skills of a trained artist and an experienced scientist. The book was published in Paris as Reise in das innere Nord-Amerika in den Jahren 1832 bis 1834 (Travels in the Interior of North America 1832–1834).

  • Mouth of the Fox River, 1839
  • 12″ x 17 1/4″ (a separately issued proof)
  • Indiana Historical Society
  • Keywords: engravings, natural landscapes, color aquatint and hand coloring
  • Subjects: outdoors, trees, rivers, boats, domestic animals, wild animals, birds, grapevines

This engraving appeared in Prince Maximilian’s book about his travels, published in 1839–1841. It is romantic in style even while it documents the Indiana scene. The use of color gives a particularly eerie effect; notice the highlights on the trees. Notice also the rhythm created by the wavy trees and grapevines. As he often did, Bodmer emphasized the contrast between nature (the wilderness, the eagle) and the softer, more distant aspects of civilization (the boat, the cows). Because Prince Maximilian became ill while visiting New Harmony, Bodmer had more time to develop romantic documentary works such as this, which is not characteristic of the majority of his work.