Cover Art Description:
When Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the distant boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase, the president's primary hope was that they would find a passage to the Pacific Ocean. But Jefferson and his famed captains were products of the Age of Enlightenment and thus subscribed also to exact observation and recording of details. As Ronald Loge indicates in an article beginning on page 2, there was much for Lewis and Clark to encounter and overcome, including the mysteries of disease and its treatment.
So it was, too, for German explorer Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied (1782-1867) and Swiss born artist Karl Bodmer (1809-1883), both of whom followed Lewis and Clark's river route to the Far West in 1833-1834. For Bodmer, whose work is being featured in a special exhibit at the Montana Historical Society through March 15, 2001, the goal was to create a precise visual record. This he did for the Upper Missouri's numerous Indian cultures just before disease and other factors changed them forever. The precision with which Bodmer rendered individuals and costumes is reflected in the hand-colored engraving and aquatint Assiniboin Indians (circa 1840 1843), reproduced on the front cover courtesy the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming. It is a dual portrait taken from watercolors Bodmer executed at Fort Union in 1833. Pitatapiu, the warrior in the foreground, carries a long bow-lance adorned with ribbons of soft, cured bear entrails smeared with red paint. The other figure, an unnamed Assiniboine warrior, is said to have remained aloof until Bodmer's music box made him laugh.
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