Looking at picture after picture of the West, I’ve come to believe that part of the romance of the West was, indeed, the expanse of land, freedom from old World forces that sought to enslave one and the sheer awe and beauty of the land.
So today I thought I’d take you on a tour through the eyes of those who were there when the country was first discovered — and who had the talent to get that image onto canvas. One of those people was Karl Bodmer.
Karl Bodmer was a Swiss artist who accompanied Prince Maximilian of Wied on his journey into the Americas. Bodmer was only 22 years old when the Prince asked him to come along with him on this memorable journey. Interestingly, Bodmer toured the American West a mere years apart from another artist, George Catlin.
The two men (Maximilian & Bodmer) set off on their journey on May 7, 1832. Their voyage across the Atlantic took only two months, when they reached Boston. They then made their way west by means of the steamboats of the day, and on foot. The picture on the left by the way is Niagara Falls and the one off to the right here is Citadel Rock.
Their trip took them 28 months, and Karl painted hundreds of pictures — to my mind, the people of the West bring his work to life, but I also love his pictures of the land and the animals that were here at that time. Off to the left here is a painting of buffalo and elk quietly grazing on the upper Missouri area.
To the right is a painting called the white walls in the upper Missouri area. Bodmer originally was a landscape artist, but he more than met the task given him by giving us very real, very beautiful paintings of the people of the time.
And here to the left are the white castels, which are once again in the upper Missouri region. Can’t you feel the atmosphere of the area? Its time and place? Doesn’t it impart in you a sense of freedom, a place where the soul can stretch out to the farthest reaches? Beautiful!
Here’s another one, only this time the area is Indiana — at the mouth of the Fox River. You can almost hear the gurgling of the water in the background, can’t you? Of course, Indiana is pretty far away from the upper Missouri area, but at this time in our history, Indiana was also an untouched land. Here the tribes of the Sacs and Fox roamed.
But I think, as I’ve mentioned before here on the blogs, the picture off to my right is my favorite of Bodmer’s work. I have sat by the hour looking at this picture — for it inspired one of my favorite books, THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF. Although this replica is good, it’s nothing like the prints that I have in my books, because it doesn’t impart the height of this particular warrior. This picture is of an Assiniboine brave, and a man thought of very highly by others in his tribe. In THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF, the hero is also Assiniboine, and he looks of course very much like this picture. Interestingly, this painting also inspired another aspect of that book…gambling…because the hero of that book wins the heroine. Written around the time of the 200th year anniversary of the Lewis & Clark adventure, I thought I’d mimic the true story of Sacagewea. This book is still for sale at Amazon, here: http://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Wolf-Berkley-Sensation/dp/0425209202/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303793518&sr=1-1.
I’ll be giving away a free book today to some lucky blogger. Oh, and by the way, Connie — where are you, Connie? You were the winner from 2 weeks ago — so please do email me. But for everyone else, come on in an leave a comment. Let’s talk.