Fort Putnam

Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900)
Date: c. 1852
Medium: Pencil on brown paper
Dimensions: 6 7/8 H x 9 13/16 W
Inscription: Extensively inscribed with notations on color and tree species; lower right corner: Fort Putnam
Credit: Gift of William Steinschneider
Accession Number: 1958.25.2
Comments: This working sketch reveals how Cropsey—dubbed "the painter of autumn—gathered information for his full-size landscape compositions. His schematic drawing of the mountainside and penciled notes provided a rough guide from which to produce a painting in oil. Chestnuts, maples, birches, and oak trees are identified, and phrases such as "red ochre and ivy creeping up" are reminders of the artist's experience the day the sketch was made. Built during the Revolutionary War at West Point, NY, Fort Putnam was in ruins and considered a "native antiquity" when Cropsey sketched it. European artists could recall their glorious past by painting classical ruins and medieval castles' American artists attempted to do the same with much younger "antiquities."