Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - Inicio

Versión española

Buy tickets

Alma-Tadema and Victorian Painting
in the Pérez-Simón Collection

From 25 June to 12 October 2014 (extended closing date)

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
The Roses of Heliogabalus (detail)
Oil on canvas
132.7 x 214.4 cm

Pérez-Simón Collection, Mexico

Carmen in Spanish collections

From 7 October until 9 November 2014

Special Collaborative Exhibition. Free entry

Pablo Picasso
Femme de profil à l’éventail, 1964, illustrations for the book Le Carmen des Carmen by Prosper Mérimée and Louis Aragon
Fundación Bancaja Collection
© Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid, 2014

Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Charles Ferdinand Wimar
The Lost Trail
ca. 1856
Oil on canvas
49.5 x 77.5 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Numero de inventario
INV. Nr. 785 (1981.49)

More information about this work

During the years leading up to the American Civil War, a period of westward expansion, many writers and artists wished to immortalize the life of the native Indians in their works before they died out. Prominent among them was the painter of German origin, Charles Ferdinand Wimar, who came to be nicknamed the “painter of Indians” for devoting most of his short but prolific artistic career to these people and for his habit of dressing like them. The Lost Trail is one of the five versions of a painting that was begun in Germany and completed in America and perished shortly afterwards in a fire. Painted in Saint Louis, as the inscription states, shortly after Wimar returned from a stay in Düsseldorf, it depicts a group of Indian warriors on horseback searching for the trail of some enemy in one of the canyons of the lower Missouri River at dawn.

Wimar depicts the Indians as exiles, roaming a land that is no longer theirs. Their appearance, with naked torsos and painted faces, reflects the stereotypes established by his contemporaries and European romantic fantasies about the free and adventurous life at the American border. Until he travelled to the West for the first time in 1858, almost at the end of his life, Wimar continued to portray Indians without ethnographic accuracy and drew inspiration from the works of other painters, such as the illustrations of Karl Bodmer, or certain literary texts like the novels of James Fenimore Cooper.

Indeed, this scene could easily be taken from some passage from Cooper’s work in which the Indian Chingachgook was pursuing the trail of some enemy before it was scattered by the wind. Wimar uses a very powerful painterly language and a highly studied composition. In this respect he follows in the wake of certain paintings by his master, the history painter also of German origin, Emanuel Leutze. As Elisabeth Garrity Ellis points out, The Lost Trail in the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection repeats the same composition of diagonals as Leutze’s The Troops at Monmouth. The poses and position of the arms of the two main Indians can be related to those of General Lee and General Washington in the aforementioned painting and the foreground figures of both compositions are depicted in the same bending down pose.

Paloma Alarcó

Featured Products

Go to the shop

Recommended artists

Recommended works

© 2009 Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Paseo del Prado 8, 28014 Madrid, España

We use our own cookies and those of third-parties to analyze the use of our website and display personalized advertising. If you continue browsing, we will consider that you consented to its use. For more information see our Cookie Policy.