Annapolis Heritage Society | Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

The Painted Room Interpretive Tour

The Topographical Tradition…

Shortly after Halifax was established in 1749, army topographers accompanied British troops to America. These officers were instructed in topographical views at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. Their objective was to capture precise views of landscape for strategic purposes in the days before the camera. Many of these topographers would supplement their income by creating publications of their images and teaching the locals how to draw and paint views.

J.F.W. Des Barres (1721 – 1824) was a cartographer (map maker) who was trained at Woolwich in this tradition. Like many of his contemporaries, he published a series of North American views, charts, and maps entitled The Atlantic Neptune. His image of Annapolis Royal may have influenced our mural artist, for the mountain views, boats, and the tree on the left are similar in presentation to that of Des Barres. These topographical artists would establish the early traditions of landscape painting in Canada.

Annapolis Royal
by J.F.W Des Barres, 1781