Special Collections: Sketchbooks of Frank B. Mayer

Mayer Sketch

Francis (Frank) Blackwell Mayer was born into a distinguished Baltimore family in December of 1827. His grandfather, an immigrant, was a prominent businessman, while his father was a well-known attorney who served in the Maryland Senate.

Mayer studied art in Baltimore with Alfred Jacob Miller and Ernest Fischer in the 1840s and helped to form the first ever Maryland Art Association in 1847. He worked as an engraver in Philadelphia and served as the assistant librarian for the Gallery of Fine Arts at the Maryland Historical Society. 


Between 1864 and 1869 Mayer studied art in Paris with Charles Gleyre and Gustave Brion, specializing in oil paintings and crayon drawings. During his time in Paris his work was displayed in the prestigious Paris Salon.

In December 1876 Mayer moved to Annapolis and bought his first permanent home. That year he entered two works for competition in the Philadelphia Centennial. Both of his entries won prizes. Mayer helped found the Local Improvement Association of Annapolis and was active in landscaping public areas of the city. 

Many of the buildings seen as sketches in these volumes are still in existence today, including Cedar Park, built in 1702, which is the oldest surviving earth fast dwelling in Maryland and Virginia.