Around 1848 Wilhelm Friedrich, a young German immigrant to Texas, completed three drawings that capture unique details of life on the frontier. Friedrich’s sketches feature Comanches, Germans, a captive girl, a wagon train, the landscape and wildlife of the Texas Hill Country, and dynamic scenes of cultural contact. Friedrich is the only artist known to have produced contemporaneous images of a Comanche captive while still in captivity. The authors use their expertise in Comanche culture, German immigration, art, and Hill Country history to explore the many layers of meaning in Friedrich’s drawings. Who was Wilhelm Friedrich? How did he come to Texas? What information does he pack into his drawing? How can we understand his work—as art, as data about Comanche life and customs, and as a record of German values and priorities in the New World? Who is the captive girl? And why is her portrayal important today?
“Altogether excellent, both in terms of scholarship and writing.”—James C. Kearney, Department of Germanic Studies, The University of Texas