Virginia History Series
Historical Hall of Fame: Edward Beyer (1820-1865) was born in the Rhineland of western Germany in 1820 and studied
art at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art. In 1854 Beyer visited Virginia, remaining until 1857. Impressed by the Virginia
landscape and by technological advancements, such as canals, railroads, tunnels, and factories, Beyer traveled throughout the state
sketching and painting what he saw.
In May 1857, Beyer traveled to Germany to have his sketches turned into lithographic prints. Artisans working for Rau and Son
in Dresden and for W. Loeillot in Berlin transferred Beyer's sketches to lithographic stones, or plates, using a different stone for
each color. Printed in black, blue, and yellow, the transparent inks would show through subsequently-printed layers, with two combined
colors resulting in a third. By May, 1858 Beyer had returned to Richmond with copies of his 40 prints which were then bound
and copyrighted. The folios were issued in 1857 and 1858 as the "Album of Virginia".which was accompanied by a booklet describing
each of the 39 scenes in detail (the fortieth is the cover plate - seen below left)
Beyer also made panoramic paintings, though
on a small scale, of Staunton, Buchanan, Salem, Liberty (Bedford), Wytheville, Greenbrier White Sulphur Springs, and other sites.
Perhaps 17 paintings were produced during Beyer’s Virginia sojourn, including five of the Lynchburg area. These paintings display
vibrant color and meticulous detail; bright yellow fields of grain, white or red brick buildings, dark green forests, and green mountains
fading to purple in the distance. There are the superbly detailed houses, churches, stores, barns, fences, horses, and people going
about their business. The fine detail of Beyer's paintings, not discernible in real-life at those distances, were possibly
aided by use of a telescope, camera obscura, or close-up sketches.
The color, detail, and accuracy of Beyer's paintings are
informative, photograph-like renderings which document the antebellum life-style in Virginia.