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THE ILLUSTRATING TRAVELER

George Catlin painting a Chief

Customs of the Country
Part III of III


Maximilian Alexander Philipp, Prinz zu Wied-Neuweid: Reise in das Innere Nord-America in den Jahren 1832 bis 1834.... London, 1841.

The Fox River

Karl Bodmer, "Embouchere du Fox-River." (Colored aquatint)

River snags

Karl Bodmer, "Snags." (Colored aquatint)

Karl Bodmer's illustrations of American Indians in the atlas accompanying Prince Maximilian's travels are now so famous that they overshadow the atlases other attributes. In fact, it is the most lavish illustrated work of American travel, rich in landscape and local color beyond its obvious ethnological interest. These two plates show the life of river travel in the United States in 1833: the first is a bucolic scene on the Fox River in Indiana, with a flatboat floating lazily in the stream. The second shows the perils of steamboat travel on the snag-ridden Missouri River as Bodmer's party headed upstream to Indian country.


J. D. Borthwick. Three Years in California. Edinburgh & London, 1857.

Monte game

"Monte in the Mines." (Lithograph)

Borthwick came to California in 1851, an Englishman searching for his fortune in the Gold Rush. He observed the wild and chaotic life of the era, and portrayed the gambling element of it in several of the lithographs illustrating his narrative.


Francis S. Marryat. Mountains and Molehills or Recollections of a Burnt Journal. London, 1855.

California saloon

"The Bar of a Gambling Saloon." (Chromolithograph)

Marryat went to California in the Gold Rush, spending two years there from 1850 to 1852. Like Borthwick, he failed to make a fortune in mining, but seems to have enjoyed the mixed culture of California in the boom. His drawings tended toward caricature, such as this classic image of a western saloon.


James H. Simpson. Journal of a Military Reconnaissance, from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the Navajo Country.... Philadelphia, 1852.

Green Corn dance at Jemez Pueblo

Richard H. Kern. "You-Pel-Lay, or the Green Corn Dance of the Jemez Indians." (Chromolithograph)

In the Southwest, the customs of the Pueblo Indians exercised a powerful fascination on travelers from the United States. After the annexation of the region following the Mexican War numerous observers depicted these ceremonies which have retained their appeal to gringos in modern times. This plate is based on an original by Richard Kern, who, with his brother Edward, contributed many illustrations to the first government reports on New Mexico.


John Muir, editor. Picturesque California and the Region West of the Rocky Mountains. From Alaska to Mexico...Containing over Six Hundred Beautiful Etchings, Photogravures, Wood Engravings, etc., by Eminent American Artists. San Francisco, 1888.

Eucalyptus Avenue

W.C. Fitler, "Eucalyptus Avenue." (Photogravure)

As the title page promises, John Muir's Picturesque California is a vast medley of different mediums of illustration, depicting the scenery and daily life of the Rocky Mountain and Pacific West. The boulevards of a new middle class mecca like the town of Inglewood, "wisely chosen where grand avenues of eucalyptus and pepper trees are already grown" are accorded the same artistic treatment as the glories of the high Sierra. All sorts of illustrative media rub shoulders in Muir's volumes, as jumbled as the scenery.


Valor and Endurance
An Analytic Eye
The Sublime and the Picturesque
The Spirit of Place
Encountering Native Americans

Return to Customs of the Country, Part I

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Send comments to George Miles, William Roberston Coe Curator of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University


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