American, b. England, 1770–1850
After John Hazelhurst Boneval Latrobe (E. Van Blon)
Falls of the Susquehannah above Columbia
Aquatint and etching with hand coloring, 7 3/8 x 10 1/8 inches
Plate 9 from Part II of Lucas’ Progressive Drawing Book
Published in 1827 by Fielding Lucas, Jr.
Partial gift and purchase from John C. O’Connor and Ralph M. Yeager
Fielding Lucas, Jr., was primarily a cartographer who operated a map-publishing firm in Baltimore. Although issued under his name, Lucas’ Progressive Drawing Book was the brainchild of John Hazelhurst Boneval Latrobe, a Baltimore attorney, philanthropist, inventor, and sometime painter who wrote the text and provided watercolors for the illustrations under the pseudonym E. van Blon. The three-volume book, an instruction manual for artists, contains a total of thirty-eight intaglio plates, of which nineteen are aquatints engraved by John Hill.
The view here is across the wide but shallow Susquehanna River just upstream from the town of Columbia, formerly Wright’s Ferry, site of the first regularly operated crossing of the river. The caption above, Sky in Stormy Weather, describes the specific atmospheric condition one might achieve in watercolor by following Latrobe’s lesson, which, like all the texts in the book, borrows liberally from the published writings of British watercolorist John Varley.