Johann Carl Bodmer (11 February 1809 – 30 October 1893) was a Swiss-French printmaker, etcher, lithographer, zinc engraver, draughtsman, painter, illustrator and hunter. Known as Karl Bodmer in literature and paintings, as a Swiss and French citizen, his name was recorded as Johann Karl Bodmer and Jean-Charles Bodmer, respectively. After 1843, likely as a result of the birth of his son Charles-Henry Barbizon, he began to sign his works K Bodmer.
Karl Bodmer was well known in Germany for his watercolours, drawings and aquatints of cities and landscapes of the Rhine, Mosel and Lahn rivers. After he moved to France following his return from an expedition in the American West, he became a member of the Barbizon School, a French landscape painting group from the mid-19th century. He created many oil paintings with animal and landscape motifs, as well as wood engravings, drawings, and book illustrations. For his work, Bodmer was made a Knight in the French Legion of Honour in 1877.
He is best known in the United States as a painter who captured the American West of the 19th century. (See collection) He painted extremely accurate works of its inhabitants and landscape. He accompanied the German explorer Prince Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied from 1832 through 1834 on his Missouri River expedition. Bodmer was hired as an artist by Maximilian in order to accompany his expedition and record images of cities, rivers, towns and peoples they saw along the way, including the many tribes of Native Americans along the Missouri River and in that region. Bodmer had 81 aquatints made from his work to illustrate Prince Maximilian's book entitled Maximilian Prince of Wied's Travels in the Interior of North America (1839-1841 in German/published in English translation in 1843-1844).
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