GARNERAY, Ambroise Louis (1783-1857), Vue du New York Prise du Weahawk (View of New York, Taken from Veahawk) (New York: Bailly Ward & Co., c1834)
17 ½ x 21 ¼ inches sheet, 27 ½ x 31 ½ inches framed. Hand-colored engraving. Title printed on lower margin in French and English. This rare and marvelous view of New York City and Harbor, drawn from a work by A. L. Garneray, is taken from the vantage point of Weehawken, New Jersey. It was apparently first issued in Paris as part of Garneray’s very scarce and impressive color plate portfolio Vues des Côtes de France. There seems to be some confusion over the date of publication of the print, Stokes says 1834, based upon the appearance of the dome on the merchant’s exchange, completed in 1827 but destroyed by fire in late 1835. Further, there is no trace of the tower of the Presbyterian church on Wall Street, which was destroyed by fire in September 1834, but rebuilt in 1835.
The composition is flanked on the left by a large tree whose delicately rendered leaves, along with the wispy pink-silver clouds in the sky, imbue the scene with a sense of grace and idyll. In the foreground, we see lively figures in period dress picnicking on the heights before the splendid river and bustling harbor. Other leisurely figures can be seen strolling or sitting and admiring the view of the port. Beyond the river, church spires rise up over the other buildings of the city, and are rivaled only by the dome of the Merchants’ Exchange on the southern tip of the city for dominance of the skyline.
The land of New York was discovered in 1524, and colonized by the Dutch in 1624, when it was named New Amsterdam and became a trading port of the Dutch West India Company. In 1664 this Dutch colony was surrendered to British forces and was renamed New York after James Duke of York (1633-1701), who had been granted the land by his brother King Charles II. Within fifteen years of this present view, New York would become one of the most important cities in the new nation. Today it is a vibrant and diverse beacon of culture, finance, and education for the world.
References: I.N. P. Stokes, “The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909,” Volume 3, p. 614, pl. 110; Gloria Gilda Deak, “Picturing America,” no. 433; Stokes & Haskell, “American Historical Prints, c.1834-E-38” p. 78-79.
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