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 Alexander Anderson  (1775 - 1870)

About: Alexander Anderson


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Lived/Active: New Jersey/New York      Known for: wood engraving-bank notes, portrait drawing

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BIOGRAPHY for Alexander Anderson
1775 (New York City)
1870 (Jersey City, New Jersey)

New Jersey/New York

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wood engraving-bank notes, portrait drawing

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San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Known as the "founder of the art and industry of wood engraving in the United States," Alexander Anderson was the dominant figure in that medium until the 1840s when a freer style came into vogue led by Felix Darley.

Anderson completed about six thousand wood carvings and worked nearly to the end of his long life of ninety-five years.  He is credited with inspiring many artists including Abel Bowen in Boston and George Gilbert in Philadelphia.

Anderson was self taught in drawing and copperplate engraving.  He first trained as a doctor in New York City where he was born.  But he was inspired by the revival of wood engraving led by British artist Thomas Bewick whose tiny, cameo-type forms were done in the 'white line' technique, which was utilizing the natural lines of the wood.

By 1798, Anderson, influenced by Bewick, was devoting himself exclusively to carving, and as a result was responsible for popularizing Bewick's style of wood engraving in America.  He did engravings for almanacs and books.  Although he did some original work, most of his depictions he copied from Bewick and other famous artists including Benjamin West.  For the first American edition of Bewick's General History of Quadrupeds (1804), Anderson did three-hundred wood engravings.

Sinclair Hitchings, 'Alexander Anderson', The Britannica Encyclopedia of American Art, p. 15

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