prairie looking west
1860, by Spottiswoode and Company
from a photograph by Humphrey Lloyd Hime
This is a chromoxylograph (a colour wood engraving,
"chromo" meaning colour and "xylo"
indicating wood) that was produced from a Hime photograph
having the same title. It was published in Henry Youle
Hind's Narrative of The Canadian Red River Exploring
Expedition.... Hime's original photograph has sombre
brown tones, opening to speculation the meaning of the
skull in the lower-right corner which nineteenth-century
viewers would have clearly understood to be that of
an Indian. However, when the photograph was reproduced
as a coloured engraving in Hind's Narrative...,
the sky was made a bright blue and wisps of white clouds
and a V-formation of game birds were added. The text
that accompanies this colour plate refers to the "vast
capabilities" and "marvellous beauties"
of the Prairies. Together, the text and coloured engraving
completely dispel the spectre of death suggested in
Hime's original photograph in favour of a "promise
of bountiful recompence."