The West as Romantic Horizon. By William H. Goetzmann and
Joseph C. Porter, with artists' biographies by David C. Hunt.
(Omaha: Center for Western Studies, Joslyn Art Museum, 1981.
Pp. 128. Foreword, introduction, illustrations, acknowledgments,
index. $34.95, cloth; $18.95, paper.)
The West as Romantic Horizon constitutes a guide to the three col-
lections assembled by the InterNorth Art Foundation and now perma-
nently housed at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha: the Maximilian-
Bodmer, consisting of manuscript materials and 427 watercolors and
sketches by Karl Bodmer deriving from the 1832-1834 visit to America
by Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied; the Alfred Jacob Miller,
consisting of over loo watercolors based on William Drummond
Stewart's 1837 expedition to the Rocky Mountain haunts of the fur
traders and Indians; and the Artists of the Western Frontier, consisting
of the work of thirty-seven artists. Such renowned figures as Albert
Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Frederic S. Remington, and Charles M.
Russell are represented, and particularly appropriate, given the excel-
lent Bodmer and Miller collections, is the inclusion of works by most
of the other significant artists to paint the Indian in the first half of
the nineteenth century: George Catlin, Charles Deas, Paul Kane,
James Otto Lewis, Peter Rindisbacher, and John Mix Stanley. The
guide, generously illustrated in color, offers a sampler of the two
more extensive collections and a catalog raisonne of the third, with
biographies of all thirty-nine artists prepared by David C. Hunt.
In addition, The West as Romantic Horizon contains essays by
William H. Goetzmann and Joseph C. Porter elaborating the theme
stated in the title. Goetzmann concentrates on romanticism's role in
shaping the image of the American West, and his essay effectively
counteracts the parochialism of some studies by placing western art
within the context of contemporary European developments. Goetz-
mann's approach, and his particular affinity for Bodmer, are evident
in an evocative passage on the Swiss artist's Indian portraits: "They
startle in their freshness and overwhelm us with a sense of the Plains
Indians' pride and exotic elegance .... Still, stately, and hauntingly
eternal, the black, blue, red, and tatooed faces stare off proudly into
eternity. Here indeed was the 'noble savage,' the 'lord of creation,'
people of an archaic past that went far beyond memory and even be-
yond myth suddenly resurrected not as symbols but as flesh and blood
people who still walked the earth, just over the romantic horizon"
(p. 19). Aesthetic considerations aside, as Porter notes, the works of
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117150/. Accessed July 30, 2015.