Karl Bodmer

1809 – 1893

Karl Bodmer


Reisbach, Switzerland


Indian portrait and genre painting-landscape

Born in Reisbach, Switzerland, Karl Bodmer is best known for the watercolors he did on on a five-thousand mile trip up the Missouri River in 1833 and 1834 when he accompanied the German prince Maximilian on an exploratory trip of the Far West. Maximilian, Prince of Wied, was a natural historian by avocation, and had come to America to study the unique features of the land and the people. On this trip, Bodmer painted numerous Indian subjects and river scenes, which Maximilian published as engravings and aquatints along with his own observations in a book titled “Travels in the Interior of North America”.

His early training was in Paris, and in 1847, he moved to Germany where he painted the lush woods. In 1849, he painted with Francois Millet and others at Barbizon, a small town in France, and his forest interiors won recognition in Paris Salon exhibitions.