This gallery presents fifteen original drawings commemorating seminal mission events. These were rendered in the early 1900s.
In the years before photographic images became widely available, books and magazines (like Gleason's Pictorials) relied on drawings and paintings to capture the likeness of important people and to depict events. Lithographs, images made on a form of printing press, were common. Even with the advent of photography in the 19th century, artistic renderings remained the primary means of communicating the look and feel of places that had long disappeared or events that could only be recorded or recreated by a drawing or painting.
When Fr. Zephyrin Engelhardt, the Franciscan scholar and historian, published his seminal work The Missions and Missionaries of California, he included drawings done by A.B. Dodge and Alexander Harmer, two accomplished California artists known for their realistic rendering. Their sketches cover a broad range of mission era events, from the founding of the first mission in San Diego in 1769 to the raising of the United States Flag in Monterey in 1846. There are scenes of everyday life; settlers returning from church, for example, and an Indian on a caretta.
Both artists researched and drew Mission churches that had disappeared in the last half of the 19th century. While the artists' styles were noticeably different (Harmer's drawing are darker and have more detail) both men had a keen eye and exceptional talent. Harmer sometimes put his name on a drawing, at other times he put a logo at the bottom.
The California Missions Resource Center maintains a collection of the colorized versions of these 42 historic drawings. Below are the black and white versions and two of the colorized versions.
This entire collection can be licensed by museums, publishers and other interested parties. We have provided copies of these drawings to the Getty Museum, the Smithsonian and several of the California mission museums in sizes as large as 30" x 40", and to mission scholars, researchers and authors seeking illustrations for their work. For a full listing you may download the full list of available drawings. Please contact us for more information if you are interested in licensing high-resolution copies of these.