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 Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler  (1842 - 1922)

About: Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler
 

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Lived/Active: Illinois      Known for: birds-eye town views, lithographer

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Likely the most prolific of the dozens of bird's-eye view artists who crisscrossed the country during the latter three decades of the nineteenth century, Thaddeus Fowler worked for about fifty years, which resulted in hundreds of images of small-town America. He did at least seventeen views of different Texas cities in 1890 and 1891, and also created almost 250 views of Pennsylvania between 1872 and 1922. Fowler continued to draw and promote his views even into 1922, the year of his death.

Born in 1842, Fowler had photography training and served in the Civil War from 1861 to 1863, but was dischared because of wounds received at the Battle of Bull Run. He then joined the photography business of his uncle in Madison, Wisconsin, and from 1868 to 1869, worked as a lithographer assistant for Albert Ruger of Chicago. By 1870, he was working independently and did birds-eye views of Oconomowoc and Omro, Wisconsin. Shortly after this, he did nine views with the brothers H.H. Bailey and Oakley Hoopes Bailey. In 1876, again as an independent, he worked in New England and from 1877 to 1880, went to the northwest as far as Ontario and North Dakota. In 1879, resuming work with the Baileys, he did birds-eye views of Pennsylvania towns and from 1887 to 1906, produced over 200 lithographics of those towns, this time in partnership with James B. Moyer.

It seems likely that Fowler employed his photography training in this project, perhaps transferring his drawn images to stones or zinc plates photographically, as many lithographers had taken up the practice during the latter quarter of the century.

Fowler made a swing through Oklahoma and North Texas in 1890 and 1891. Honey Grove (which exists only as a drawing in the collection of the Amon Carter Museum) is the easternmost Texas city that he documented, and Clarendon is the westernmost, and both are on the east-west railroad line made up of the Texas and Pacific, Missouri Pacific, and Fort Worth and Denver City that ran from Texarkana to Sherman to Wichita Falls and on into the Texas Panhandle and to Denver.


Sources include:
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"
Dr. Ron Tyler, "Texas Birds-Eye Views"


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