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19th Century American Sketch Artists

In the 19th century, sketching from nature was considered a necessary skill for every well educated person. Particularly in the early part of the century, before the camera became available, sketches were a popular form of visual communication. Navy officers sketched the exotic places they visited. Naturalists sketched the plants and animals they encountered. And even starry eyed young girls sent sketches of their kith and kin to distant relations.

Far too many of the surviving sketches from the 19th century are attributed to anonymous -- certainly the most prolific artist and author of all times. But for those sketches we do know the artist for, there is still often very little information available on the person behind the pen.

Professionals of all sorts relied on sketches to convey and record information. Architectural sketches were used to preserve knowledge of ancient ruins, and to communicate the grandure of modern wonders. Artists who painted usually produced one or more sketches first, as preliminary steps to achieve the desired composition, or to work out the correct perspective for some detail.

Many beautiful 19th century sketches have survived the ravages of time. For that small fraction that have identifiable artists, it is well worth the effort to learn more about the artists and their cicumstances.

Looking for 19th Century Artists? See our Little Known 19th Century American Artists Series:


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