Alexander Robertson Sketchbook of the Hudson River

Alexander Robertson (1772-1841)
Date: 1796
Medium: Pencil and ink on paper
Dimensions: 8 7/8 H x 11 3/4 W

Inscribed in ink lower center: Albany; inscribed lower right 15. Sept. 1796

Credit: Albany Institute of History & Art Purchase
Accession Number: 1945.51a

This view of Albany is from an important 200-year-old sketchbook by the Scottish-born artist Alexander Robertson. A rare example of a travel sketchbook produced in eighteenth-century America, it records the countryside, towns, and cities along the Hudson and Mohawk rivers. Although the more than thirty pen-and-ink views that remain in this sketchbook could only have been drawn from nature, Robertson's stylized approach reveals a preconceived notion of that a landscape should look like, based on what was common in the British artistic tradition. Artists in the next few generations freed themselves from this restrictive tradition and produced drawings that were more spontaneous and more faithful to nature.