Click the Image to Enlarge

Lesueur, Charles Family of Mice, 1830


A native of Le Havre, France, Charles Lesueur was an artist and scientist whose interests were drawing and scientific investigation. He was well known in Europe for his natural history drawings made in Australia and surrounding islands. He came to New York in 1816 and later taught in Philadelphia.

In 1826 Lesueur arrived at New Harmony, Indiana, on the famous “Boatload of Knowledge” led by philanthropist Robert Owen. There Lesueur taught art and sketched scientific, natural history, and archaeological subjects. He also sketched towns along the Ohio River. He was one of the earliest professional painters in Indiana and his works are the first sketches of western Indiana.

Lesueur returned to France in 1837 to become curator of the Museum of Natural History at Le Havre.

  • Family of Mice, 1830
  • 5 7/8″ x 8 3/4″
  • Courtesy of Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
  • Keywords: drawings, paintings, narrative, watercolor and pencil
  • Subjects: wild animals

This is one of Lesueur’s scientific sketches. He probably drew this in pencil first and then laid in the watercolor. Although this work is for scientific documentation, it has an artistic quality.

Some Points To Consider

  • Discuss with students how Lesueur’s technical skills inform viewers about mice. Ask students to describe the artist’s use of texture, proportion, line and shape. (Art 4.3.1)
  • Ask students why they think it is important to have accurate drawings of wildlife in early Indiana. (Art 4.1.2)