PAULA MITCHELL MARKS, Editor
Prints of the West. By Ron Tyler. (Golden, Colo.: Fulcrum Publishing, 1994- Pp.
viii+197. Acknowledgments, introduction, epilogue, notes, bibliography,
index. ISBN 0-55594-174-9- $39.95.)
This volume joins the long line of fine books written by Ron Tyler concerning
the history and art of the American West. It examines how the interplay between
westward expansion and what the author terms "the lithographic revolution" of
the 183os and 184os powerfully influenced Americans' perceptions of the West.
The book's one hundred illustrations, half of which are in color, are drawn
entirely from the print collection of the Library of Congress.
The chapters are organized chronologically and according to the subject mat-
ter of the prints under discussion. Tyler opens with an examination of the earli-
est published depictions of the West, those resulting from expeditions of explo-
ration. The contact between white and Indian civilizations that was initiated by
these expeditions is responsible for some of the book's most fascinating materi-
al. The stories of how McKenney and Hall's 1837 History of the Indian Tribes of
North America and other illustrated surveys of Indian life, featuring images by
artists such as Peter Rindisbacher, George Catlin, Karl Bodmer, and Alfred Jacob
Miller, found their way into print are often as colorful as the works themselves.
Tyler contends that, following initial explorations, the federal government
"purposefully created a constituency for expansion into and development of the
West." Military expeditions were the primary vehicle for this process, and Tyler
estimates that they resulted in approximately 24.5 million published images of
the region. He also profiles the array of prints depicting various Western "types,"
such as boatmen, mountain men, emigrants, cowboys, and politicians. In the
concluding chapter, on landscapes and city views, Tyler uses Thomas Moran's
collaboration with Louis Prang, the nation's foremost chromolithographer, to
demonstrate how published images of the West in general, and of Yellowstone in
particular, were woven into the fabric of American popular culture.
A helpful addition to this volume would have been a list of illustrations. But
that is a minor omission from what will be the standard work on this subject for
many years, thanks to Tyler's thorough research and flowing narrative style and
the visual appeal of the book, masterfully designed by Ellen McKie.
Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed March 2, 2015.