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Views on the Mississippi

The Photographs of Henry Peter Bosse

2002
Author:

Mark Neuzil
Foreword by Merry A. Foresta

Views on the Mississippi

The first comprehensive collection of photographs by the foremost nineteenth-century photographer of the Mississippi River-now in paperback!

Henry Peter Bosse is now recognized as the leading nineteenth-century photographer of the Mississippi River. Though his photographs were taken from 1883 to 1893, a particularly fascinating time of unprecedented environmental and social change, his work was almost unknown until five separate volumes of his photographs were discovered during the past few years. Since then, Bosse’s work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian and sold by leading auction houses to private collectors around the world. Views on the Mississippi brings together for the first time almost one hundred of Bosse’s most stunning images. These cyanotype photographs trace the river from Minneapolis to St. Louis, capturing the Mississippi as it was transformed from an untamed natural wonder to a modern commercial highway. A detailed reproduction of Bosse’s rare landmark map of the river, first published in 1887-88, provides a fascinating guide to the historic Upper Mississippi.

Views on the Mississippi is a stunning collection of photographs. By bringing the forgotten art of Henry Bosse to light, Mark Neuzil has done history a grand service. Words cannot describe the ethereal beauty of these images.

Douglas Brinkley, co-author (with Stephen L. Ambrose) of Mississippi: River of History

As mapmaker and photographer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Henry Peter Bosse (1844-1903) took more than three hundred photographs of the Upper Mississippi River from 1883 to 1893, a time of unprecedented environmental and social change. Now recognized as the leading photographer of his time of the Mississippi, his work was almost unknown until five separate volumes of his photographs were discovered during the past few years. Since then, Bosse’s work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian and other national museums and sold by leading auction houses to private collectors around the world.

Views on the Mississippi brings together for the first time almost one hundred of Bosse’s most stunning images. These photographs-tracing the river from Minneapolis to St. Louis-capture the Mississippi as it was being transformed from an untamed natural wonder to a modern commercial highway. Presenting the wagon and railroad bridges, the towns and villages along the banks, and the steamboats that served them, Bosse’s images depict the river at the fulcrum between the nostalgic era recorded by Mark Twain and the coming century of industrial development and environmental change, including the alterations wrought by the navigation projects of the Army Corps.

Bosse used the cyanotype process, which produced large-format photographs in crisp, vivid blue tones. This volume offers high quality reproduction with new captions providing the location and significance of each image, as well as historical context. Also included here is a detailed reproduction of Bosse’s rare landmark map of the river, first published in 1887-88, is a fascinating guide to the historic Upper Mississippi.

Views on the Mississippi is certain to delight and surprise those interested in nineteenth-century America, life on the Mississippi River, the environment, and fine photography everywhere.

Bosse bio:
Henry Peter Bosse (1844-1903), a German immigrant and grandson of a great Prussian war hero, worked as a mapmaker and photographer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1874 until his death.

pb

As mapmaker and photographer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Henry Peter Bosse (1844-1903) took more than three hundred photographs of the Upper Mississippi River from 1883 to 1893. His work was almost unknown until five separate volumes of his photographs were discovered during the past few years. Since then, Bosse’s work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian and sold by leading auction houses to private collectors around the world. Views on the Mississippi brings together for the first time almost one hundred of Bosse’s most stunning images. These cyanotype photographs trace the river from Minneapolis to St. Louis, capturing the Mississippi as it was transformed from an untamed natural wonder to a modern commercial highway. A detailed reproduction of Bosse’s rare landmark map of the river, first published in 1887-88, provides a fascinating guide to the historic Upper Mississippi.

"Views on the Mississippi transports readers back more than one hundred years and puts them behind the camera of a photographer and mapmaker whose work is recognized around the world. The photos-of the river, its bridges, towns, bluffs, barges, and boats-provide a view of the river during its early development as a major commercial highway and recreation area. . . . Includes many marvelous vistas of the breadth and sweep of the river." Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Mark Neuzil has assembled a stunning array of nineteenth-century photos. . . . While researching another topic, he stumbled upon the bluish cyanotype photos made by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mapmaker Henry Bosse. Neuzil couldn’t pass up the chance to give readers a lesson in river history, biology, urban planning, engineering, and industry." Des Moines Register

"Views of the Mississippi opens a window on the great river before its face was changed by America’s industrial boom and navigation construction projects. It is part travelogue, part history, part a collection of works of art." St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Mark Neuzil is associate professor of journalism and mass communication and environmental studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Views on the Mississippi

Mark Neuzil is associate professor of journalism and mass communication and environmental studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Views on the Mississippi

Views on the Mississippi is a stunning collection of photographs. By bringing the forgotten art of Henry Bosse to light, Mark Neuzil has done history a grand service. Words cannot describe the ethereal beauty of these images.

Douglas Brinkley, co-author (with Stephen L. Ambrose) of Mississippi: River of History

These wonderful photographs, so unassuming and original, are a record of the great Mississippi’s topography when the river was turning from frontier territory to a route for human commerce and human convenience. That Bosse played a role in the transformation he so ably documented in no way lessens the real beauty of these pictures.

Sandra S. Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Mark Neuzil has assembled a stunning array of 19th century photos that illustrate how locks and dams later changed the Mississippi River. Neuzil stumbled upon the blueish cyanotype photos made by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map-maker Henry Bosse while researching another topic. He could not pass up the chance to give readers a lesson in river history, biology, urban planning, engineering and industry.

Des Moines Register

Views on the Mississippi: The Photographs of Henry Peter Bosse opens a window on the great river before its face was changed by America’s industrial boom and navigation construction projects. It is part travelogue, part history, part a collection of works of art. The photos reveal wagon and railroad bridges, early river towns, beautiful bluffs and steamboats.

William Allen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Views on the Mississippi transports readers back more than 100 years and puts them behind the camera of a photographer and mapmaker whose work is recognized around the world. This handsome book collects almost 100 photos taken from 1883 to 1893 of the upper Mississippi, from Minneapolis to St. Louis. The photos-of the river, its bridges, towns, bluffs, barges and boats-provide a view of the river during its early development a major commercial highway and recreation area. Many of the photos, reproduced in the blue tones of the cyanotype process Bosse used, are taken from bluffs and provide marvelous vistas of the breadth and sweep of the river-views that helped Bosse in his mapmaking efforts.

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Views on the Mississippi bears reading and looking and rereading again. Beautifully put-together and a bargain in its immensity.

Dave Wood’s Book Report

If you are looking for a general introduction to the history of the upper river, Neuzil’s compilation is one of the most entertaining ways to begin.

Big Muddy

This book will interest environmentalists, river buffs, and collectors of photographic history. It finally makes Bosse’s unusual and beautiful photographs widely available.

Gateway Heritage, Missouri Historical Society

A well-written supporting history by Mark Neuzil will inspire readers to take the book and try to find the places where Bosse sets up his tripod. Like the river, this book takes some time to appreciate, but it is well worth the effort.

Minnesota History

Bosse’s photographs deserve to be known by ever scholar, educator and interpretive program on the upper Mississippi, and Neuzil’s book is an excellent vehicle for their dissemination.

Annals of Iowa

An invaluable record of the river. A fascinating introduction to one of the pioneers of American photography when photography’s roles as artistic expression and scientific tool coexisted without contradiction.

History of Photography

Here, in this remarkable book, are stunning images of the upper Mississippi, taken at a time of unprecedented environmental and social change.

The Evening News

Anfinson succeeds in showing the importance of navigation in shaping the Mississippi. To make his case, he draws from a variety of sources, including early travelers’ accounts, shipping records, Congressional testimony, scientific studies, and trade and association publications. Anfinson demonstrates an impressive command of river dynamics, ecosystems, transportation systems, and public policy.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History