|American Watercolors Gallery|
|Seth Eastman (1808-1875) was born in Brunswick, Maine in 1808, and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1829. His specific training was as a topographical draughtsman, which equipped him with the ability to record accurately what he saw, rather than to embellish his work with romantic or imaginary overtones. Thus, his watercolors and drawings, whether landscapes or portraits, capture his subjects as they really were, which also provided valuable historical records of the places visited during his military career.|
After leaving the Academy, Eastman was assigned to the First Infantry Division and from 1840 to 1841 served in Florida. This was the period of the second Seminole War, precipitated by attempts to move the Seminole Indians to the Creek Nation. More than 1,000 Indian warriors and between 5,000 and 10,000 American soldiers, sailors and marines were engaged in battle between 1835 and 1842, in Florida along the Georgia border. Eastman was for a time stationed at Sarasota until the Fall of 1840 when he took command of Fort Fanning, a temporary outpost on the Suwannee.
While his sojourn in Florida was brief it was productive for Eastman’s talents extended beyond the military life. As can be seen in these splendid drawings and watercolors he was a skilled draughtsman and even in his own time Eastman was a highly acclaimed artist. He not only captured the bucolic scenery of Florida but also military life and conditions.
In June, 1841 (when nearly half the strength of the regiment was prostrated with dysentery and fever) Seth Eastman was sent to Norfolk, Virginia on sick leave and there he sought to obtain a leave of absence until the end of the summer. He did not return to Florida, but was ordered to Minnesota where he reported for duty at Fort Snelling, where he was to serve for the following seven years.
Thus, these watercolors and drawings are valuable historical records of Florida’s past, undertaken by one of America’s most respected nineteenth-century artists.
|SELECTIONS FROM THIS WORK|
Eastman - Cypress, Florida, September 1840
Eastman - Florida River Scene
Eastman - Sara Soto
Eastman - Sara Soto, Florida, 1840