Nineteenth-century landscape views

Information on nineteenth-century landscape views in America, as seen through the lens of cartographic history described by David Buisseret in From Sea Charts to Satellite Images.

Overview

This guide provides information on nineteenth-century landscape views in America, as seen through the lens of cartographic history described by David Buisseret in From Sea Charts to Satellite Images.  It expands upon Buisseret's discussion of the overlap in mapping and art by showing examples of landscape views housed in the David Rumsey Map Center.  In addition, it outlines how to perform advanced queries in SearchWorks to locate maps related to this subject.

 

"Maps are more than maps" - Abby Smith Rumsey

Glossary

Picturesque: Artistic style that in contrast to Neoclassicism with its "emphasis on formality, proportion, order, and exactitude," revealed complicated features of "irregularity, asymmetry, and interesting textures [that amounted to a general] ... pleasing variety," falling between the beautiful and the sublime (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Beautiful: Serene

Sublime: Awe-inspiring, yoking together beauty and terror

 

History of views

Views go beyond the strict definition of a map, but do give "a graphic representation of a locality" (111), thus providing spatial and geographical information.  

There is much overlap between art and cartography.  Intentionality distinguishes the two categories.  Where maps are more concerned with accurately capturing space, art privileges aesthetics and tone.

"Landscape views [have] a long history in European North America" (111).  For instance, topographical views representing the countryside date back to the 18th century.  In addition, watercolor paintings of the New World appeared even earlier, by artists such as John White (1540-1593) and Jacques Le Moyne (1533-1588).

 

Village of the Secotan Indians in North Carolina, John White, 1585

Village of the Secotan Indians in North Carolina, John White, 1585

Image credit: Public Domain Review

 

The French help the Indians in battle, Jacques Le Moyne, [1564]

The French help the Indians in battle, Jacques Le Moyne, [1564]

Image credit: Fine Art America

 

Romanticism in the arts occurred concurrently with the United States mission of manifest destiny, compelling artists to create grand representations of the countryside (112).

Technological developments of lithography and steel engraving allowed artists to more widely disperse their paintings as prints.  These views appeared in books as well.

Topographical images surged after 1830 (112).  Many of these artists were born in the United States, such as George Catlin (1796-1872).  Catlin's imagery included the lives of Native Americans - these works were known as the Catlin Collection.  Seth Eastman (1808-1875) also depicted Native Americans, his "subjects and friends" (113).

 

View from above Floyd's Grave, near modern Sioux City, Iowa, George Catlin, 1832 

View from above Floyd's Grave, near modern Sioux City, Iowa, George Catlin, 1832

Image credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

 

By the late 1830s, artists were moving west and capturing what the saw there.  The westward expansion of the 1840s and 1850s brought with it many more artists, especially along the Oregon Trail, as well as into the Southwest (113-137).

 

Indian mode of traveling, Seth Eastman, 1869

Indian mode of traveling, Seth Eastman, 1869

Image credit: Western Art and Architecture

 

Meanwhile, certain artists remained east, such as the Hudson River School, including George Inness (1825-1894).

 

Autumn oaks, George Inness, ca. 1878

Autumn oaks, George Inness, ca. 1878

Image credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

American Scenery was one of the first publications of 19th century views, which documented architecture, towns, and landscapes, including evidence of industrialization (114).

In the 1840s the federal government sponsored expeditions to remoter parts of North America in order to “define boundaries, enumerate natural resources, identify potential railroad routes” (114).  Many reports included topographical views, especially the railroad surveys.  

In the latter half of the 19th century topographical views gained an increased audience by appearing in many periodicals, such as Harper’s Weekly (114).

 

Views depicted significant historical events and the building blocks of the nation’s development, such as fortifications, railroads,  and communication systems, like the creation of the Erie Canal – and not always though a purely romantic lens. For instance, J. W. Hills’ drawing View on the Erie Canal included “some degree of dilapidation” (118). 

“… railroad reports contain material that reveals a great deal about local history.  One can use the maps, for instance, to track on the ground the routes that the explorers took and the camps they made” (135).

 

Some artworks did not shy away from depicting the full scope of industrialization, including not just pride in technological and national development but also some lament over the nature that was displaced, e.g. by showing tree stumps and pollution.

 

The Lackawanna Valley, George Inness, 1856

The Lackawanna Valley, George Inness, 1856

Image credit: National Gallery of Art

 

Ultimately, views specialize less in scientific exactitude and more in “what it must have felt like to be settling the vast North American wilderness … during the 19th century" (141).

 

Views in the David Rumsey Map Collection

Davosburgh coal works, in Illustrated atlas of the Upper Ohio River and Valley from Pittsburgh, Pa. to Cincinnati, Ohio, Eli L. Hayes, 1877

Davosburgh coal works, in Illustrated atlas of the Upper Ohio River and Valley from Pittsburgh, Pa. to Cincinnati, Ohio, Eli L. Hayes, 1877

Image credit: David Rumsey Map Collection

 

Bird's-eye view of the Black Hills to illustrate the geological structure, in Topographical and geological atlas of the Black Hills of Dakota ... , Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region, 1879

Bird's eye view of the Black Hills to illustrate the geological structure, in Topographical and geological atlas of the Black Hills of Dakota ... , Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region, 1879

Image credit: David Rumsey Map Collection

 

Aboriginal life, Navajo country, Old Fort Defiance, Ariz., in Report upon United States geographical surveys west of the one hundredth meridian, Geo. M. Wheeler, 1889

Aboriginal life, Navajo country, Old Fort Defiance, Ariz., in Report upon United States geographical surveys west of the one hundredth meridian, Geo. M. Wheeler, 1889

Image credit: David Rumsey Map Collection

 

Grand Canon, foot of the Toroweap looking east, in Atlas to accompany the monograph on the tertiary history of the Grand Canon District, Clarence E. Dutton, 1882

Grand Canon, foot of the Toroweap looking east, in Atlas to accompany the monograph on the tertiary history of the Grand Canon District, Clarence E. Dutton, 1882

Image credit: David Rumsey Map Collection

 

Route of the Mormon pioneers from Nauvoo to Great Salt Lake ... , Millroy & Hayes, 1899

Route of the Mormon pioneers from Nauvoo to Great Salt Lake ... , Millroy & Hayes, 1899

Image credit: David Rumsey Map Collection

 

Bird's-eye view of a part of the Uinta Uplift, in Atlas accompanying the report on the geology of a portion of the Uinta Mountains ... , Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories (U.S.), 1876

Bird's-eye view of a part of the Uinta Uplift, in Atlas accompanying the report on the geology of a portion of the Uinta Mountains ... , Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories (U.S.), 1876

Image credit: David Rumsey Map Collection

 

View, San Francisco from Yerba Buena Island, in A series of charts, with sailing directions, embracing surveys of the Farallones, entrance to the Bay of San Francisco ... , William H. Dougal, 1852

View, San Francisco from Yerba Buena Island, in A series of charts, with sailing directions, embracing surveys of the Farallones, entrance to the Bay of San Francisco ... , William H. Dougal, 1852

Image credit: David Rumsey Map Collection

 

See more views in the David Rumsey Map Collection...

 

Further reading

How to search

To locate views in SearchWorks, you can perform either a simple keyword search or create an advanced query to refine your results.
 
For a keyword search, start at the SearchWorks home page.
SW home
Image credit: Stanford Libraries
 
From the Library  selection on the left margin, choose David Rumsey Map Center.
SW DRMC
Image credit: Stanford Libraries
 
Then type words relevant to your topic in the search box at the top, such as views grand canyon.
This kind of search will retrieve a variety of potentially relevant resources,
containging your search terms somewhere within the record, such as from the title, a description, or subject.
SW views
Image credit: Stanford Libraries
 
For an advanced search, again start at the SearchWorks home page and choose David Rumsey Map Center.
Then, select Subject from the dropdown menu to the left of the search box and enter your search terms, such as views grand canyon.
This will return results for works that have been given the designation of this subject by a librarian. 
SW views subject
Image credit: Stanford Libraries
 
There are several subject headings in the catalog relevant to this subject, such as:  
SW bird's-eye views Calif.
Image credit: Stanford Libraries
 
Once you find a map relevant to your search, notice the links under Subjects.  
You can click on all or part of these links to find similar resources in the collection.  
For example, the map Indian Territory with parts of Neighboring States and Territories includes this subject string:
 
SW Indian territory

Image credit: Stanford Libraries

 
You can select the entire string by selecting the last part, in this case 19th century.  This will bring up all items in the collection that a librarian has deemed to fall under this specific topical category: 19th-century maps including Native Americans in the western United States.
SW Indians 5
Image credit: Stanford Libraries
 
Alternatively, you can click on just part of the string to broaden the search.  For instance, you can click on Maps to retrieve maps including Native Americans in the western United States, from all times.
SW Indians 7
Image credit: Stanford Libraries
 
You can widen the search even more by just clicking on Indians of North America to bring up anything in the collection related to this topic, from all regions, times, and genres.
SW Indians 
Image credit: Stanford Libraries
 
To further open up your search for views and maps, rather than faceting to the David Rumsey Map Center under Library, you can leave that unselected and instead select Map under Resource Type.
 
SW views maps
Image credit: Stanford Libraries
 
This will pull up all resources from the Stanford University collections, including from other libraries that hold maps, such as the Branner Earth Sciences Library and the East Asia Library.
SW views maps libraries
 Image credit: Stanford Libraries
 
Additionally, the David Rumsey Map Collection is a superb resource for finding items within that collection.
Rumsey views
Image credit: David Rumsey Map Collection
 
For research assistance or any other reference service, please contact us at the David Rumsey Map Center.
  

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