Captain Seth Eastman’s Journey with a Sketchbook: Down the Mississippi

January 4, 2018 to April 1, 2018

As part of the McNay’s celebration of San Antonio’s 300th anniversary, the Museum has organized a series of exhibitions of the drawings of Captain Seth Eastman, a West Point-trained draftsman who traveled to Texas in the late 1840s. These four exhibitions follow Eastman’s journey down the Mississippi to New Orleans, across the Gulf of Mexico to Matagorda Bay, then up to San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country.

While Eastman’s drawings of the Alamo and other San Antonio missions are famous and widely reproduced, the minutely detailed drawings he did on the first leg of his journey down the Mississippi are not nearly as well known. Drawings of the riverscape, steamboats, cities, and settlements give contemporary viewers a vivid sense of what it would have been like to travel down the Mississippi in the mid-19th century.

Captain Eastman’s sketchbook is one of the great historical works in the McNay’s collection. This is the first time in years that so many of the drawings will have been on view.

An interactive map in the gallery will enable visitors to follow Eastman’s journey using excerpts from his journal as well as historical and modern-day photos of locations he sketched.

For press-approved images, please click here.

This exhibition is organized by Lyle Williams, Curator of Prints and Drawings, for the McNay Art Museum. Lead funding is most generously given by the Elizabeth Huth Coates Exhibition Endowment and the Arthur and Jane Stieren Fund for Exhibitions.


Seth Eastman, Hunt’s Landing, 25 Miles Above Mouth of the Ohio River, Looking North, October 1848, from Sketchbook, 1848-49. Graphite on paper. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of the Pearl Brewing Company