“On the Spot”: Traveling Artists and the Iconographic Inventory of the World, 1769–1859

Claudio Greppi

in Tropical Visions in an Age of Empire

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2005 | ISBN: 9780226164717
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226164700 | DOI:
“On the Spot”: Traveling Artists and the Iconographic Inventory of the World, 1769–1859

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This chapter deals with the work of a succession of traveling artists, from William Hodges, who accompanied James Cook on his second voyage and subsequently worked in India, to Thomas Ender, who traveled extensively in South America. This body of work had a significant impact on European visions of the tropics, mediated as it was through the figure of Alexander von Humboldt, who was inspired by Hodges's representations of tropical nature. Humboldt's keen reflections on landscape painting and the aesthetics of landscape observation were in turn appropriated by a new generation of traveling artists, just as his observations on tropical landscape inspired naturalists such as Charles Darwin. The result was a way of seeing, and knowing, in which the tradition of landscape art was fused with a new spirit of observation informed by the experience of voyaging around the world in the company of naval surveyors, meteorologists, and astronomers. This emergent epistemology of landscape is also evident in contemporary views and visions of European landscape itself.

Keywords: traveling artist; voyage; tropics; landscape art; naval surveyor

Chapter.  8990 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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