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Frederick Catherwood

Frederick Catherwood

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Frederick Catherwood was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 artist
Artist
An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only...

 and architect
Architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

, best remembered for his meticulously detailed drawings of the ruins of the Maya civilization
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

. He explored Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

 in the mid 19th century with writer John Lloyd Stephens
John Lloyd Stephens
John Lloyd Stephens was an American explorer, writer, and diplomat. Stephens was a pivotal figure in the rediscovery of Maya civilization throughout Middle America and in the planning of the Panama railroad....

. Their books, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatán and Incidents of Travel in Yucatán, were best sellers and introduced to the Western world the civilization of the ancient Maya.

Mediterranean travels


Catherwood, having made many trips to the Mediterranean between 1824 and 1832 to draw the monuments made by the Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

, Carthaginians
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

, and Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

ns, stated that the monuments in the Americas bear no architectural similarity to those in the Old World. Thus, they must have been made by the native people of the area.

Catherwood made visits to Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, and Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 and with Joseph Bonomi the Younger
Joseph Bonomi the Younger
Joseph Bonomi the Younger was an English sculptor, artist, Egyptologist and museum curator.-Early life:Bonomi was born in London into a family of architects...

 made drawings and watercolors of the ancient remains there. During a six-week period in 1833, Catherwood was probably the first Westerner
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 to make a detailed survey of the Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The structure has been refurbished many times since its initial completion in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik...

 in Jerusalem.

Catherwood developed a sizeable reputation as a topographical artist, and perfected a drawing technique which used the camera lucida
Camera lucida
A camera lucida is an optical device used as a drawing aid by artists.The camera lucida performs an optical superimposition of the subject being viewed upon the surface upon which the artist is drawing. The artist sees both scene and drawing surface simultaneously, as in a photographic double...

.


Central America


In 1836 he met travel writer John Lloyd Stephens
John Lloyd Stephens
John Lloyd Stephens was an American explorer, writer, and diplomat. Stephens was a pivotal figure in the rediscovery of Maya civilization throughout Middle America and in the planning of the Panama railroad....

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. They read the account of the ruins of Copán
Copán
Copán is an archaeological site of the Maya civilization located in the Copán Department of western Honduras, not far from the border with Guatemala. It was the capital city of a major Classic period kingdom from the 5th to 9th centuries AD...

 published by Juan Galindo
Juan Galindo
Juan Galindo was a Central American explorer and army officer. He fought for Central American independence from Spain and led the charge that took the fortress at Omoa, the last Spanish stronghold in Central America....

, and decided to try to visit Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 themselves and produce a more detailed and better illustrated account. The expedition came together in 1839 and continued through the following year, visiting and documenting dozens of ruins, many for the first time. Stephens and Catherwood are credited for the "rediscovery" of the Maya civilization, and through their publications brought the Maya back into the minds of the Western World.

The expedition resulted in the book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas
Chiapas
Chiapas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Chiapas is one of the 31 states that, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 118 municipalities and its capital city is Tuxtla Gutierrez. Other important cites in Chiapas include San Cristóbal de las...

, and Yucatan
Yucatán
Yucatán officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Yucatán is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 106 municipalities and its capital city is Mérida....

, published in 1841, with text by Stephens and engravings based on the drawings of Catherwood.

Stephens and Catherwood returned to Yucatan to make further explorations, resulting in Incidents of Travel in Yucatan in 1843.

The following year Catherwood published Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, with 25 color lithographs from watercolors he made at various ruins. This folio was published in May 1844 simultaneously in London and New York in an edition of 300. Some 282 copies are known to survive, mostly held in private collections or libraries.

A large number of his original drawings and paintings were destroyed when the building where he was exhibiting them in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 caught fire, but a number survive in museums and private collections, often showing more detail than the published engravings.

Last years



With the California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

 Catherwood moved to San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

 to open up a store to supply miners and prospectors, which he considered a more likely way to make money than chasing after the gold himself.

In 1854, Frederick Catherwood was a passenger aboard the steamship Arctic
SS Arctic
The SS Arctic was a 3,000-ton Paddle steamer in the Collins Line steamships. A sister-ship to the SS Pacific that went into service in 1852, the ship was at the time the largest and most splendid of the line and was in operation in the Liverpool packet...

, making a crossing of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 from Liverpool to New York. On 27 September in conditions of poor visibility, the Arctic collided with the French steamer Vesta, and sank with much loss of life, including Catherwood. He was 55 years old.

Catherwood has been the subject of the following biographies and studies:
  • von Hagen, Victor W. (1946). F. Catherwood 1799-1854 - Architect-Explorer of Two Worlds (with introduction by Aldous Huxley
    Aldous Huxley
    Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

    )
  • von Hagen, Victor W. (1950). Frederick Catherwood, Architect
  • von Hagen, Victor W. (1973). Search for the Maya: The Story of Stephens and Catherwood
  • Bourbon, Fabio (2000).The Lost Cities of the Mayas: The Life, Art, and Discoveries of Frederick Catherwood

External links

  • "Drawing From the Past: Maya Antiquity Through the Eyes of Frederick Catherwood", online exhibition by Smith College Libraries of Catherwood's Views of Ancient Monuments lithographs
  • "Frederick Catherwood's Lithographs", online reproductions of a permanent exhibition of his work at the Casa Frederick Catherwood, Mérida, Yucatán
  • Reed College website including all the illustrations of Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, and Labná in Stephens and Catherwood's 1843 Incidents of Travel in Yucatan and in Catherwood's 1844 Views of Ancient Monuments. http://academic.reed.edu/uxmal/contents.html