Johann Hürlimann’s Mató-Tópe, a Mandan Chief

Meet the Artists of Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture

A painting of a man

After Karl Bodmer, Johann Hürlimann, engraver, Mató-Tópe, a Mandan Chief, 1839, hand-colored aquatint, plate mark: 20 1/4 x 14 5/8 in., image: 16 1/4 x 12 3/4 in., Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, Gift of the Enron Art Foundation, 1986.49.517.13, Photograph © Bruce M. White, 2019.

About the Artwork

Mató-Tópe took a liking to Prince Maximilian and Bodmer. When Bodmer painted him, he chose to be depicted in full dress regalia. Mató-Tópe knew how he wished to be seen and negotiated the terms of his depiction. The similarities between the formal, full-length portraits by Bodmer and Catlin suggest that the chief exerted a high degree of control, making sure his pose and his appearance conveyed his importance to the artists and within his tribe.