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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

a cat in a smaller wilderness

By Karl Bodmer (1809 - 1893) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

"What a lovely cat," I thought while selecting this image today. "It's so supple and the fur looks plush, and it's playing with a snake, that's a funny bit of homely genre, and look at that intent face. . . this is a very fine etching, so let's see what else Bodmer did."
He did a few things: born a Swiss citizen, in 1832 he accompanied the aristocratic German explorer Prinz Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied on an expedition to the Missouri River and related areas of the American West. During his adventures he recorded the American Indian Plains tribes' lives and customs in an accurate, yet respectful manner that proved of great use to later students of the culture.
Upon his return home and after publishing an 81-aquatint edition of his travel works, he began exhibiting at the Paris Salon, and turned his hand to the immediate scenes of domestic creatures and landscapes. He was a contributor to the important art periodical The Portfolio (in which this image was published), whose editor Philip Gilbert Hamerton had this to say about Bodmer's work:

"He is an artist of consummate accomplishment in his own way, and of immense range. There is hardly a bird or quadruped of Western Europe that he has not drawn, and drawn, too, with a closeness of observation satisfactory alike to the artist and naturalist. The bird or the beast is always the central subject with Karl Bodmer, but he generally surrounds them with a graceful landscape, full of intricate and mysterious suggestions, with here and there some plant in clearer definition, drawn with perfect fidelity and care." — The Portfolio, February, 1873

There's a lot on Bodmer to be found. Start with this page if you like.


Katnip Lounge said...


curator said...

It IS a pretty cat, isn't it? Look at its fat little pointy tail.


I sincerely love your site and will check back often!


Ann Dziemianowicz said...

Wow! I love this piece. All the beautiful detail. I was not familiar with Bodmer. I was interested in seeing his other work and went to Wikipedia. Did you see his sketchbook? I love artist's sketchbooks: http://www.frenchdrawings.org/sketchbook.php?vol=4&owner=0&vl=26&isKiosk=&vo=0&vl=26

Thanks for introducing me to him! :)