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Lesueur, Charles Four Sketches, No Date


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.

  • Four Sketches, n.d.
  • 11 3/16″ x 17 13/16″
  • Courtesy of Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
  • Keywords: drawings, studies, sepia
  • Subjects: outdoors, indoors, people, men, transportation, hats, weapons, trees, hills, wagons

The following comments are written on the back of the sketch: “The lower left appears to have been done in the mountains (hills) probably on the way to New Harmony. The upper left may be an Indiana farm scene. The lower right, according to tradition, is the Mount Vernon-New Harmony Road. The last drawing is probably a drawing room in Philadelphia.” These are probably preliminary sketches intended for use later in painting. It is difficult to document Lesueur’s work since most of it was taken with him when he returned to France.

Some Points To Consider

  • Explain to students what the function is of sketches like these. Ask students to describe how such sketches connect people today to the culture of early Hoosiers. (Art 4.1.2)
  • Read to the class the remarks found on the back of the sketch, and then ask students to use those ideas to help construct meaning for the work. (Art 4.3.2)