human structure

Bodmer arrived again at Baton Rouge from New Orleans on the morning of January 23, according to Maximilian's later report. He stayed here for three days, occupying the time with sightseeing and in making studies of the city and its immediate environs. This undated watercolor of a church at Baton Rouge was probably done during this period.

Church at Baton Rouge

Judging from dated inscriptions on various extant studies, Bodmer seems to have stayed in the New Orleans area approximately ten days. Maximilian's subsequent account indicates "about eight days" and states that the artist embarked on the steamer Arkansas for Baton Rouge on January 22. This view of the lower Mississippi, dated January 21, is presumed to have been made at or near New Orleans. It depicts types of craft then in use on the river. What appears to be the head of an Indian is faintly outlined at left center

Scene on the Mississippi

Bodmer's watercolor of the village of New Mexico carries conflicting notations on the reverse. One indicates that it was done on January 12 and the other on January 6 at twelve o'clock. Maximilian stated in his journal that Bodmer reached New Mexico on January 12 and gave its location as "near Memphis." At the same time he mentioned that it was near or opposite the mouth of the Arkansas River. According to a map of the Mississippi Valley published by H. S.

New Mexico on the Mississippi

Today the city of Cairo, Illinois, stands at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers near the site where Fort Defiance once commanded a view of the surrounding wilderness. In Bodmer's day a small settlement existed at the mouth of the Ohio, as evidenced in this sketch made in the early part of 1833.

Mouth of the Ohio: Store and Tavern on Tip of Land

A few miles below Mount Vernon stood the village of Shawnee Town. Maximilian described it as "a dead, sad place" when he traveled this section of the Ohio en route to St. Louis in March, 1833 . About twenty-five miles beyond lay an unusual geological feature known as Cave-In-Rock on the Illinois side of the river near Cave-In-Rock Island, today within a state park.

Cave-In-Rock on the Ohio

Frequent stops were made by Ohio river craft to load or unload passengers and cargo and pick up cordwood for fuel. At such times Bodmer often went ashore to make studies of the river, its settlements, and its bustling commercial life. His diagram of the deck plan of the Homer, if lacking in picturesque detail, furnishes information about the usual riverboat accommodations of that day. As indicated in the drawing, passengers were housed above deck, the stores and cargo below.

Deck Plan of the Steamboat Homer

While Maximilian remained behind at New Harmony recovering his health, Bodmer undertook an excursion on his own to New Orleans early in January, 1833. In his journal entry for February 15, 1833, Maximilian included a brief narration of Bodmer's voyage down the Mississippi as it was related to him on the artist's return. According to this account, Bodmer left New Harmony shortly before the New Year, but was forced to wait several days at Mount Vernon for a steamer bound for New Orleans. The watercolor sketch of the courthouse in Mount Vernon was made at this time.

Courthouse at Mount Vernon

During a visit to the prairie settlements west of New Harmony in January 1833, Maximilian saw at one cabin a woman whose children, obviously neglected, were outside with the dogs gnawing on the bones of a wild turkey. "In the dark hut," he commented in his journal, "we could see through the door the bed where it was standing.... In front of the house, blocks of Catalpa wood were lying." Bodmer's sketch of such a homestead on the Indiana border, made during his trip into this same area in November 1832 does not include such details.

Settler's Farm in Indiana

Commenting on his travels into Illinois in January, 1833, Maximilian observed that in many settlements men were engaged in unrestricted clearing of the forest. He noted, "Our canoe man told us that this is Congress land, and that these people fell the wood without any permission, and nobody punishes them." He added that on private or lease-held land, the settlers customarily took trees for the construction of flatboats and that again nobody was "called to account for it."

Bon Pas on Green's Prairie

Representing the natural landscape near New Harmony allowed Bodmer a freedom of artistic expression not easily realized within the formal constraints of scientific illustration, portraiture, or architectural description. This view of the Cutoff River, a tributary of the Wabash, probably made in late November or early December of 1832, was later featured as Vignette VIII in the atlas of aquatints published in Europe.

The Cutoff River, Branch of the Wabash