Translating landscape: the Colombian Chorographic Commission


  • Veronica Uribe Hanabergh Universidad de los Andes Bogotá, Colombia



Colombia, Chorographic Commission, landscape survey, Romanticism, watercolors, building of the modern nation


In 1850 the Colombian government developed a project to survey the young country´s landscape. Scientists, writers, and artists were invited to make part of the project led by the Italian military, geographer and cartographer, Agustin Codazzi. After nine years and three different artists, the Commission had many watercolor drawings that portrayed a landscape, not only in its physical traits, but also in its social, economic and agricultural development. Through the lens of these artists, the drawings that concluded the survey showed a landscape that was truly original but that was also seen through the lens of a certain romantic eye inherited by a firm European legacy. As a result, these watercolors show the different regions, people, and means of transportation, crops and trades. The Colombian Chorographic Commission was an important project in the construction of the Colombian modern nation, a country that was constantly divided by federalist and centralist politics, liberal and conservative parties. An interesting union between science, politics and art, these drawings represent the process of the modernization of nineteenth-century Colombia.

Author Biography

Veronica Uribe Hanabergh, Universidad de los Andes Bogotá, Colombia

Assistant ProfessorDepartment of ArtFaculty of Arts and Humanities


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