Did you know that Frederick Catherwood was born in 1799? He was an English artist and explorer and made detailed drawings and watercolor paintings of the ancient ruins he visited. In the 1820’s Frederick Catherwood travelled to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and Palestine. During the 1830’s he traveled through Central America and visited dozens of ruins. His spectacular artwork sparked interest and reintroduced the Western world to the ancient Mayan civilization.
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Frederick Catherwood was most likely the first westerner to examine and survey the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
Frederick Catherwood had a reputation of being a gifted topographical artist. A topographical artist created detailed and accurate drawings of terrain or locations. Before photography was invented, these drawings provided visual information about a location for travelers or the military. Some of the tools Frederick Catherwood used to achieve the level of detail he needed for his drawings included the camera lucida.
Having explored and examined the ruins in the Mediterranean and Central America, Frederick Catherwood stated that the monuments in the Americas were not similar to the ones he saw in the Mediterranean. Therefore, the monuments in Central America must have been built by the native people of that area.
The books that contained Catherwood’s artwork were Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatán and Incidents of Travel in Yucatán.
Frederick Catherwood died in a steamship accident in 1854. He was traveling on the steamship Arctic, when it collided with the Vesta. Catherwood’s name was not included on the official casualty lists until his friends made an effort to have Catherwood included.