Notable 19th Century Artist Depicts Longmont in Pencil Sketch

Alfred Edward (A.E.) Mathews sketched many areas in and around Colorado in the late 19th Century. One of those sketches depicts a small scattering of homes spread out across the plains looking west to the mountains with Longs Peak in the background. This sketch was a popular lithograph at the time and has been featured in numerous history books over the years.

Alfred Edward Mathews (1831-1874) is known for his drawings of Civil War battle scenes and the landscapes of Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, and California. Mathews was born in Bristol, England, and his family moved to the U.S. in 1833 settling in Rochester, Ohio. Mathews first worked as a typesetter for the “Ohio Democrat” newspaper, and during the 1850s he worked as a traveling bookseller in New England. He then traveled south and taught at a country school in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.

The Siege of Vicksburg, on of several Civil War sketches by A.E. Mathews
The Siege of Vicksburg, one of several Civil War sketches by A.E. Mathews

When the Civil War began in April 1861, Mathews returned home to Ohio and enlisted in the Union Army, serving for three years. During the war, he participated in the Siege of Corinth and the Battles of Stones River, Lookout Mountain, and Mission Ridge. Mathews prepared topographic maps and drew scenes of war which were later published as lithographs that were exhibited in 1864 and 1865.

Mathews moved to Nebraska City in the Nebraska Territory in the summer of 1865, and he left in the fall moving to Denver on Nov. 12, 1865. He went to work in the nearby mountain communities sketching mining and milling industries. In 1866, lithographs of 36 of his sketches were published in a book titled “Pencil Sketches of Colorado.”

One of A.E. Mathews' pencil sketches of Denver, Blake Street.
One of A.E. Mathews’ pencil sketches of Colorado, Blake Street, in Denver.

In 1873, Mathews created the pencil sketch of Longs Peak as seen from Longmont. The sketch was very famous at the time, and it has be reproduced many times for history books. Mathews continued his travels, and began living in a mountain home on the Big Thompson River, 22 miles northwest of Boulder. In the fall of 1874, A.E. Mathews became ill with what was believed to be appendicitis and died in his home on Oct. 30, 1874.

Mathews' pencil sketch of Longs Peak was sold as a lithograph in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Mathews’ pencil sketch of Longs Peak was sold as a lithograph in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Mathews’ sketch of Longs Peak was sold as a print with the following caption: “The town of Longmont is situated in Boulder County, on the river St. Vrains, about eight miles east of the Mountains. It is in the midst of one of the most extensive and fertile agricultural regions of Colorado, and is abundantly supplied with water for irrigating and manufacturing purposes. It enjoys a fine climate the year through, is favorably located for trade, and is endowed with a scene of mountain panoramic beauty one hundred miles long–now touched with clouds–now radiant with sunshine– then dark with rocks and trees, — again white with snow, but always inspiring in grandeur, and unequaled by the possession of any other town in America. Long’s [sic] Peak is easily distinguished towering high above all.”

We couldn’t have said it better, Mr. Mathews.

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