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An Exercise in Cartography by a Future Artist of Note

United States/ Education/ Folk Art. AINSWORTH, William Fiske [Massachusetts, c. 1823]
A Map Of The United States. . 20 x 26 inches.
Pen & ink & watercolors on paper; expertly conserved & mounted on new linen with original dowels; original linen backing with artist's signature detached & separate; age-toned, mended cracks, some mended marginal chipping, still very good for this type.


An attractively executed, American schoolboy’s map of the United States and its western territories, drawn and colored by a young man who would become a noted Massachusetts portrait artist, whose work can be found in the archives of Old Sturbridge Village. The primary model for the map here was Morse's 1823 map of the United States. Ainsworth’s painstaking attention to detail in the drawing and coloring of the map – particularly in the floral decoration surrounding the map’s title – foreshadows his future as a painter.
Hand drawn maps of this type served a wide variety of pedagogic purposes. Obviously, such an exercise would reinforce a variety of geographic lessons as well as enhance drafting and calligraphic skills. Students were allowed a certain amount of artistic license in crafting these maps, as can be seen here.

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