Wildlife Art Museum celebrates Bodmer studies

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – A veritable snapshot of wildlife roaming the American frontier in the early 1830s, Swiss artist Karl Bodmer’s detailed field studies made while accompanying German naturalist Prince Maximilian zu Wied on an expedition up the Missouri River will be on display in the new exhibition Karl Bodmer’s Western Wildlife: Original Sketches from the Joslyn Art Museum at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, May 8 through Aug. 29, 2010.

A contemporary of George Catlin’s – and like Catlin, best known for his early portraits of American Indians – Bodmer (Switzerland, 1809-1893) was one of the first European artists to explore and sketch the American West before the advent of white settlement. The combination of his beautifully rendered drawings and Maximilian’s scientific observations created a body of work of unique historical, scientific and aesthetic importance. A complementary exhibition showcasing selections from Bodmer and Maximilian’s book, Travels in the Interior of North America: Etchings by Karl Bodmer, will also be on display May 8 through Oct. 17.

Over the course of the Missouri River expedition from 1832-1834, Bodmer produced finely executed and incredibly precise studies of a wide variety of animals, birds and reptiles. Sometimes drawn from the wild and presented in natural habitat, sometimes rendered from creatures shot as specimens, Bodmer’s wildlife sketches are both a valuable record of the journey and some of the earliest depictions of North American animals to be seen in the Eastern United States and Europe. ?

The National Museum of Wildlife Art, 2820 Rungius Road, Jackson, WY 83001, 307-733-5771 or 800-313-9553, www.wildlifeart.org.

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