Artist Trivia: Jonathan Fisher

Jonathan Fisher (1768-1847), Plan of Schoolhouse,
Jonathan Fisher (1768-1847), Plan of Schoolhouse, 1794, Watercolor and ink on paper, 19 1/8 x 13 3/16 inches, Museum Purchase, 1965.1465.141

Who is this artist: 

This artist was also a clergyman!

Born in the 18th century, and celebrating their birthday today (October 7) their observations of the natural world are still influencing modern day scientists! They were raised in Massachusetts but spent the greater part of their life leading their congregation and raising their family in a Maine coastal community. Their travels took them to rural areas and over time they documented the floral and fauna, terrestrial and celestial phenomena, and geological wonders of their time.

The Farnsworth holds one of the largest preserved bodies of this artist’s work including notebooks, paintings and prints, maps and tools, as well as a rare edition of their hand-printed book.

This artist is: 


For Jonathan Fisher—writer, teacher, inventor, traveler, and artist—religious belief directed his years as the resident Congregational minister in Blue Hill, Maine, but his encyclopedic interests nourished his mind and soul. Fisher was raised and educated in Massachusetts, but he lived for the greater part of his life in Bluehill, Maine.

There he built a home, raised a large family, cultivated the land, and regularly observed and took account of daily events. He made drawings of plants and insects, documented animal behavior and earthquakes, fires, and storms, and marveled at meteor showers, at orderly arrays of minerals and fossils, seeing in such cabinet displays evidence of creation’s vast hierarchy. His journeys took him to far-flung pulpits and to rural settlements that evolved into towns. And, over time, with each new journey, he sensed a lessening of distances between growing communities as railways and canals emerged adjacent to existing carriage routes and as steamships first cruised along coastal Maine and its inland waterways.
In filling the hours and systematically recording details of the “endless variety” that enriched his days, he left to posterity an extensive array of art, artifacts, and archives that reveal much about early Maine and Massachusetts.

The Farnsworth is fortunate in having in its collection a range of Fisher’s handmade tools, some of his treasured books, sermons, notebooks, maps, and a number of the blocks that he engraved for his illustrations of birds, insects, and animals for his hand-printed book, Scripture Animals, published in 1834.

Jonathan Fisher (1768-1847), Plan of Schoolhouse, 1794, Watercolor and ink on paper, 19 1/8 x 13 3/16 inches, Museum Purchase, 1965.1465.141

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