Introduction: Myth of the American West (03:04)
Artists helped fashion an enduring myth of the American West. James Whitmore narrates this part of the series "West of the Imagination," which includes numerous dramatizations.
Unknown Land (01:57)
In the early 19th century, Europeans and Americans knew little of the land west of the Mississippi River. Romantic notions and wild rumors prevailed.
Preparing for an Expedition (02:25)
Meriwether Lewis, selected by President Jefferson to lead a scientific expedition into the Louisiana Territory, studies the natural world in Philadelphia under Charles Willson Peale.
Mammoth Unearthed! (03:29)
Peale gained notoriety in 1801 for excavating a complete skeleton of an American mastadon. This event sparked enthusiasm in America for scientific discovery.
Corps of Discovery Sets Out (02:07)
Trace the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Their sketches, maps, and specimens create excitement, but revealing the land's grandeur awaited artists.
Catlin Heads West (03:08)
After encountering an Indian delegation en route to Washington, George Catlin embarks on a career documenting the lives, history, and customs of Native American peoples.
Buffalo Bull's Back Fat (02:22)
At Fort Union in 1832, Catlin paints Blackfoot Chief Buffalo Bull's Back Fat. This and other works from Fort Union signal a successful artistic adventure.
Historical Record of Plains Indians (02:05)
The first artist to document Native Americans of the Great Plains, Catlin supplemented detailed paintings with notes and observations.
Whiskey and Smallpox (01:32)
Catlin records the devastating effects on Native American people of exposure to European culture and diseases.
Prince Maximilian of Wied (02:08)
German explorer Prince Maximilian of Wied, accompanied by Swiss painter Karl Bodmer, records landscapes, wildlife, and the customs, language, and culture of the upper plains.
Bodmer's Landscapes (01:50)
Bodmer paints dramatic landscapes of the Upper Missouri.
Portraits and Ceremonies (02:53)
At Fort McKenzie, Bodmer creates meticulous portraits of tribal leaders and chronicles ceremonial life.
Bodmer's Portfolio (01:44)
On return to Paris, Bodmer publishes a portfolio of 81 aquatints that brings Native American culture to the world.
Catlin Joins Military Expedition (02:59)
Later in the 1830s, artists accompany US Army expeditions. George Catlin falls victim to cholera while with the Army in what is now Oklahoma.
Buffalo Hunt (02:35)
In 1837, Scottish adventurer William Drummond Stewart hired American painter Alfred Jacob Miller to record his hunting trip across the plains and into the Rockies.
Mountain Men (03:15)
Miller paints the lives of Rocky Mountain trappers and traders. Images from the 8th Annual Fur Trade Rendezvous afford insight into a unique culture.
Catlin's Indian Gallery (02:16)
As traditional Indian societies fade away, George Catlin tries to preserve their memory through his collection of paintings and artifacts, augmented with live Native Americans.
Catlin's Show Collapses (02:21)
Initially a hit in Europe, Catlin's traveling show crumbles in debt. In 1852 he sells the collection to American industrialist, Joseph Harrison.
Mandan O-Kee-Pa Ceremony (02:29)
After selling his original collection, Catkin attempts to recreate images from sketches, notes and memory. One experience haunts him.
Images of a Passing Frontier (03:27)
Catlin recalls his vision of the West as it was before white man changed it forever. Whitmore recaps works of Catlin, Bodmer and Miller.
Interview With the Producer (04:17)
Dr William Goetzmann, producer of the series, discusses some of the characters featured in "The Romantic Horizon."
Credits: The Romantic Horizon (01:58)
Credits: "The Romantic Horizon," part of the series "West of the Imagination."
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