Cape Horn on the Columbia River, Washington Territory


Rudolf Cronau.  “Cap Horn aum Columbia.  Washington Territorium.”  [Cape Horn on the Columbia.] From Von Wunderland zu Wunderland. Landschafts und Lebensbilder aus den Staaten und Territorien der Union. Leipzig: T.O. Weigel, 1886-87. Washington copyright 1885 by Dr. O.V. Deuster. 12 1/8 x 9 3/4. Collotype by Rommler & Jonas, Dresden. Print mounted onto title board as issued. Very good condition.

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From a rare and fascinating set of German prints of the United States by Rudolf Cronau. In all, this series contains fifty views of the United States from New York to San Francisco, with the majority of the prints depicting life and the natural wonders of the American West. The Europeans were fascinated with the American frontier due to the differences in the physical topography, social life, and native populations, not to mention their substantial financial investments in land there. In 1881, Rudolf Cronau (1855-1939) was sent to the United States as a special correspondent for the German newspaper Die Gartenlaube. His assignment was to produce a series of articles documenting American landscapes, cities, Native Americans, and life on the frontier. Cronau traveled all about of the country, writing his articles and producing pen & ink drawings.

These images showed cities, imposing landscapes, scenes of life in the west, cowboys in their heyday, and portraits of Native Americas, including the first life portrait of Sitting Bull. The drawings, which exhibit the skill Cronau gained through his training at the Düsseldorf Academy, were based on Cronau’s first hand observations. These images are the equal in fascination to those of his contemporaries Frederick Remington and Charles M. Russell, but unlike them, the newspaperman did not overly romanticize his subjects, but showed then with an authentic truthfulness. Upon his return to Germany in 1886, Cronau published, in two parts, a portfolio of collotypes based on his best drawings. These prints provide one of the most accurate and interesting pictures of America, especially the West, in the late nineteenth century.