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Sketchbooks Research Guide

Travel Sketchbooks

When undertaking a journey, artists commonly devoted a sketchbook to the locations, buildings, monuments, and people they encountered along the way. These sketchbooks are part personal journal, part record keeping, and also part creative process, as artists often returned to the drawings to generate paintings and other artworks in their studios. Travel sketchbooks also offer us insights into the places, monuments, and works of art that were admired by artists across generations.

German painter Carl Bernard Schlosser (1832-1914) created a sketchbook in 1857 to document his travels from London to Italy and then to France. In addition to landscapes and architecture, Schlosser was interested in documenting foreign dress and customs. (870162)


William Bell Scott (1811-1890), a Scottish painter and art teacher who socialized with the Pre-Raphaelites, drew in this sketchbook in 1872-1873 during his visits to Stobhall, Chambéry, Rome and Venice; he took care to record many architectural details. (870196)





The peripatetic Maltese artist Amedeo Preziosi (1816-1882) undertook a long journey in 1875, which is documented in this sketchbook. The artist traveled to Paris, Versailles, Fontainebleau, Marseilles, Messina, and London, making several detailed cityscapes, landscapes, and interior views that stretch across both folios. (2010.M.29)



Wyke Bayliss (1835-1906) was an English painter who specialized in scenes of church interiors. This sketchbook focuses on Gothic church architecture observed during a series of travels from around 1859 to 1905 through England, France, Italy, and Germany. (850364)





Adeline A. Blake Cameron filled sketchbooks between 1910-1925 with depictions of landscapes in England, Italy, and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where she moved with her husband to start a coffee plantation and where she was joined by her mother-in-law, the celebrated photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. (850858*, Series II, box 15)

American sculptor Malvina Hoffman (1887-1966) is best known for the approximately 100 sculptures she made for The Races of Mankind, an exhibition held at the Field Museum of Natural History in 1933 to coincide with the Chicago World’s Fair. Sketchbooks record her self-described “World Tour” from 1930-1932, which she undertook prior to this commission. One documents her travels through Hawaii, Japan, China, and Cambodia, and features detailed drawings of Cambodian dancers and Buddha statues. In another, Hoffman sketched people she met in India, describing their physical attributes with precise measurements. (850042, Box 183) The GRI has another sketchbook that shows the desert of Reno, Nevada and the rocky beaches of Scotland, where she traveled between 1934-36. (2007.M.20, Box 2)