Texas Originals

Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge

March 23, 1824–October 13, 1913

Born in New England in 1824, Sarah Ann Hardinge was an unlikely chronicler of Texas history. A woman with no formal art education, she nonetheless produced an important visual record of the state in the 1850s.

Hardinge and her husband arrived in Texas in 1852, hoping to sell land she had inherited from her brother. As they traveled, staying in hotels or with people they met, Hardinge created meticulous watercolors of her surroundings.

Her works feature faithfully reproduced buildings, such as San Antonio’s San Fernando Cathedral and Mission Concepción, while her landscapes are more impressionistic. Trees, rivers, and terrain are rendered with a sense of perspective that suggests the vast scale of Texas—the scope of its land and the openness of its atmosphere.

Hardinge also documents the Texas frontier economy. Livestock dot the fields while enslaved laborers are shown working the land.

Hardinge and her family returned to Boston in 1856, having failed to obtain any wealth from her brother’s land holdings. When she divorced her husband in 1865, Hardinge turned to her artistic accomplishments with new urgency. She patented a process for tinting and enhancing photographs and supported her family on its sales.

Hardinge died in New Jersey in 1913. Her paintings are now preserved at Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

For More about Sarah Hardinge

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth holds nineteen of Hardinge's paintings in the Museum’s watercolor collection.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society holds the Hardinge Family Collection, which contains photographs, paintings, poetry, and correspondence pertaining to Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge and her time in Texas. The collection itself is only available to NEHGS members, however, the finding aid is available online to the general public and contains substantial information on the lives of the Hardinge family and the scope of the collection.

Selected Bibliography

"Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge." Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Accessed August 18, 2022.

Tyler, Ron. Views of Texas, 1852–1856: Watercolors by Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge. Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum, 1988. 

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Spanish Translation

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Portrait of Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge. Courtesy of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
Mission of Conception, San Antonio-Texas by Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge. Courtesy of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.