Tyawapatia Bottom on Commercetown
Lesueur was a naturalist, artist, and explorer born in Le Havre, France. In 1816, he was contracted by American philanthropist William Maclure to travel to the United States to document the natural and ethnographic history of the American West. Upon his arrival, Lesuer resided in New Harmony, Indiana, a utopian religious community founded by George Rapp. While there, Lesueur welcomed such distinguished guests as fellow artist Karl Bodmer and Prince Maximilian of Wied during their expedition along the Missouri River. Tyawapatia Bottom is a watercolor sketch reproduced in facsimile in the folio album Etats-Unis de 1816 à 1837: Dessins de Ch.A. Lesueur published in Paris, France, c. 1933. This landscape view was created in Missouri on an expedition down the Mississippi River and features a small cabin and orchard along the tree-lined river bank. A naturalist at heart, Lesueur rendered this scene with documentary accuracy, yet it also promotes an idealized American vision of the rugged settler taming the virgin wilderness.