Johann Carl Bodmer (11 February 1809 – 30 October 1893) was a printmaker, etcher, lithographer, zinc engraver, draughtsman, painter, illustrator and hunter. Known as Karl Bodmer in literature and paintings, as a Swiss and French citizen his name has been listed as Johann Karl Bodmer and Jean-Charles Bodmer respectively. After 1843, likely as a result of his son Charles-Henry Barbizon, he began to sign his works K Bodmer.
Karl Bodmer was well known in Germany for his watercolours, drawings and aquatints of cities and landscapes of the Rhine, Mosel and Lahn rivers. As a member of the Barbizon School – a French landscape painting group from the mid-19th century, he created many oil paintings with animal motifs as well as wood engravings, drawings, and book illustrations.
He is best known in the United States as a painter who captured the American West of the 19th century with extremely accurate depictions of its inhabitants. He accompanied the German explorer Prince Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied from 1832 through 1834 on his Missouri River expedition. He was hired as an artist by Maximilian with the specific intent of traveling through the American West and recording images of cities, rivers, towns and people they saw along the way, including many images of Native Americans along the Missouri and that region. Bodmer was made a Knight in the French Legion of Honour in 1877. Much of Bodmer’s work was chronicled in Prince Maximilian’s book entitled Maximilian Prince of Wied’s Travels in the Interior of North America.