FORT RANDALL, N.T. [manuscript title].

Fort Randall, Nebraska Territory. 1859. Watercolor, pen, and ink on a sheet of very lightly-ruled paper, 12 1/4 x 14 1/4 inches. Captioned in ink in upper margin, dated in lower margin. Several small chips in the outer margin, not affecting the image. Central vertical fold. Several closed tears, expertly mended on verso. The colors are bright and vibrant. In very good condition overall. Matted. Item #WRCAM45480

An outstanding depiction of Fort Randall in Nebraska Territory in 1859, painted by the talented German- American artist, Anton Schonborn (d. 1871), while he was touring the area as part of the Yellowstone Expedition of 1859, commanded by Captain William F. Raynolds. The fort was located on the Missouri River, in an area of Nebraska Territory that is just north of the boundary into present- day South Dakota. Schonborn's watercolor is a rare, attractive, and important view of this significant western outpost. The Raynolds Expedition was authorized in April, 1859, and its mission was to explore the area along the Yellowstone River and its tributaries. The party was to ascertain information regarding the Indians dwelling in the region, gauge the agricultural and mineral resources of the area, study its topographical features, and report on its suitability for possible railroad routes and military outposts, and as a route for emigrants. Anton Schonborn was the artist and meteorologist on the expedition. The Raynolds Expedition departed St. Louis in late May, 1859 (which likely explains the inked date at the bottom of this scene), and arrived at Fort Randall on the Missouri River on June 13th. Schonborn may well have preceded the main party, and so spent time waiting at the fort, allowing him to create this fine watercolor. The fort, under the command of Captain C.S. Lovell, was garrisoned by four companies of the 2d Infantry. The Raynolds party, when it arrived, spent a day at Fort Randall before proceeding further up the river. Fort Randall was established on June 26, 1856 to provide protection to settlers and explorers along the Missouri River, in Nebraska Territory. The post also deterred white explorers from trespassing on Indian reservations, and was an Army supply depot for the upper Missouri River. The site for Fort Randall was selected by General William S. Harney, and was named for Colonel Daniel Randall, Deputy Paymaster General of the Army. Construction of the fort began in August 1856 and consisted of twenty-four buildings, housing 500 soldiers. The fort protected lands between the Platte River in central Nebraska and Missouri River to the north - and the area's fur traders - as well as escorting wagon trains of settlers and explorers across the plains. At the time the Raynolds expedition visited Fort Randall, it was the northernmost United States fort on the Missouri River. Schonborn's watercolor is unsigned, though clearly his work, given the style of the image, the German script of the captions, and the time and place at which it was executed. The birds-eye view from the other side of the Missouri River shows that the fort had grown substantially in the three years since its construction. More than three dozen buildings are shown, as well as several other smaller structures. Several of the buildings are identified in manuscript, including the hospital, guard house, quartermaster's stores, and the house of the fort's trader, or sutler. All of these buildings are shown on the periphery of the camp, the main part of which is made up of a series of large buildings (with smaller buildings just outside) forming a long rectangular shape surrounding a flagpole with a fully-colored American flag at full staff. Several of these dwellings are identified with the names of soldiers (almost certainly officers), including Lee, Hendershott, Lord, Lyon, Drake, Davidson, Crawford, Wessells, Long, and Gardner. A row of trees along the Missouri obscures several smaller buildings, and a steamboat is shown on the river. The name of the boat appears to be "Mink," and a steamboat by that name is known to have plied the waters of the Missouri at that time. Possibly it was the boat that brought Schonborn upriver. Anton Schonborn was one of the most impressive topographic artists to work the American western frontier. His first known work was with the Raynolds Yellowstone expedition in 1859, and his last in 1870. He committed suicide in Omaha in 1871. Of his relatively few known works, most are western military posts, made while on inspection tours with top military commanders such as Raynolds (a general after the Civil War), and William Tecumseh Sherman. "Schonborn left invaluable pictorial and social-historic documents of military posts" - Trenton and Hassrick. His pictures involve "no rearrangement of elements...They reflect concern for detail and precision...The use of watercolor wash is subdued and is applied with a skillful tonality...Their charm lies in their directness and immediacy" - Stenzel. Finally, in the official report of the Raynolds Expedition, published in 1868, there is a brief report by First Lieutenant John Mullins, who was a member of the Raynolds party. Mullins praised Schonborn for his efforts in gathering meteorological data and, with regard to Schonborn's art, wrote that "his life-like views of the country speak for themselves." The Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, locates a total of fourteen works of art by Schonborn. Our more recent census finds twenty-seven pieces. Fifteen of those works are in the permanent collections of three institutions: Amon Carter Museum (Fort Worth, Texas), Buffalo Bill Historical Center (Cody, Wyoming), and Beinecke Library at Yale University. Within those collections are eleven scenes in the Wyoming Territory, including views of Fort Laramie. The great collector of Western Americana, William Robertson Coe, donated his Schonborn pictures to Yale more than fifty years ago, while the Schonborn watercolors at the Amon Carter Museum were purchased in a single portfolio in the 1960s. The Schonborns owned by the Buffalo Bill Museum were purchased at auction in 1991. This firm handled two very fine Schonborn watercolors of Fort Laramie and Laramie Peak in the late 1990s. Aside from a group of four rather ordinary Schonborn watercolors of Kansas that sold in 2007, those are the only other Schonborns we know of on the market since 1991. An outstanding and beautifully rendered watercolor of an important Western fort on the eve of the Civil War. AMON CARTER MUSEUM OF WESTERN ART. CATALOG OF THE COLLECTION 1972 (Fort Worth, 1972), see figures 457-467. Franz Stenzel, ANTON SCHONBORN WESTERN FORTS (Fort Worth, 1972), passim. A CATALOGUE OF MANUSCRIPTS IN THE COLLECTION OF WESTERN AMERICANA FOUNDED BY WILLIAM ROBERTSON COE, YALE UNIVERSITY (New Haven, 1952), p.215. Patricia Trenton and Peter Hassrick, THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS - A VISION FOR ARTISTS IN THE 19TH CENTURY (Norman, 1983), pp.110,112,133. Chappell, Phillip E., "Listing of Steamboats Operating on the Missouri River," from Chappell's HISTORY OF STEAMBOATING ON THE MISSOURI RIVER: ouririver_encrypted.pdf

Price: $80,000.00

A Wonderful View of Fort Randall on the Missouri River, 1859