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Joslyn Art Museum announces completion of historic journal translation project
The Wall Street Journal called the works a “magnificient chronicle.”
OMAHA, NE.- Joslyn Art Museum announced the milestone publication of the third and final volume of the English translation of The North American Journals of Prince Maximilian of Wied, one of the most important documents of the nineteenth-century American West. Volumes 1 and 2 were published in 2008 and 2010 respectively. In 2008, Volume 1 was named the “Outstanding Nonfiction Book” of the year by National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. In the fall of 2011, Volume 1 received the Western History Association’s Dwight L. Smith Aware, a biennial award recognizing outstanding bibliographic or research work. Earlier in 2011, Volumes 1 and 2 were reviewed by Stuart Ferguson of The Wall Street Journal, who called the works a “magnificent chronicle.”

In 1832–34, Prince Alexander Philipp Maximilian, a distinguished explorer, naturalist, and ethnologist from Wied-Neuwied, Germany, embarked on a voyage into the furthest reaches of the American Interior. Accompanied by the Swiss artist Karl Bodmer, Maximilian set forth from St. Louis in April 1833 on a 2,500 mile journey by steamship and keelboat up the Missouri River, traveling as far as Fort McKenzie, Montana. Wintering at the Mandan village near Fort Clark, they returned downriver the following spring, having spent over a year amongst the tribes of the Upper Missouri. The watercolors that Bodmer produced on this journey remain one of the most perceptive and compelling visual accounts of the West ever created. Meanwhile, his patron Maximilian was equally hard at work on a journal documenting his scientific and anthropologic observations. Few historical chronicles The North American Journals of Prince Maximilian of Wied are as informative and eloquent, describing the topography, Native peoples, natural history, and the burgeoning fur trade of the High Plains. Today, Maximilian’s journal (in three volumes, each about 300 pages in length, and comprising about a half million words) is a centerpiece of Joslyn Art Museum’s collection, accompanied by his collection of over 350 watercolors and drawings by Karl Bodmer.

Illustrated with Maximilian’s ink and watercolor drawings, the journals offer an invaluable record of this critical period in the exploration of the American West. The three volumes of The North American Journals of Prince Maximilian of Wied have been completely translated into modern English, are fully annotated to aid the modern reader, and faithfully reproduce Maximilian’s drawings as well as his own notes, asides, and appendices. These meticulous publications are the result of a multiyear project carried out by Joslyn’s Margre H. Durham Center for Western Studies and published by the University of Oklahoma Press.






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