A RARE AND SPLENDID VIEW OF EARLY NEW YORK
Engraved by P.C. Canot (1710 - 1777)
16 x 21 ½ inches sheet, 18 ¾ x 24 ½ inches framed. Engraving on paper (fading and toning consistent with age). Title in English and French on lower margin. Annotation identifying Howdell as artist and Canot as engraver below. Plate legend on lower margin identifying well-known sites such as the North River (Hudson River), City Hall, and Staten Island.
This rare and splendid view of early New York was drawn on the spot by Captain Thomas Howdell of the British Royal Artillery shortly before the start of the American Revolution, and engraved by the masterful Pierre-Charles Canot of England. The scene is taken from near today’s corner of Varick and Beach streets in lower Manhattan. The main building shown is King’s College, now known as Columbia University. Here, the city appears as little more than a village beyond the rolling hills and fields in the foreground, and this view serves as an important historical record of New York’s early growth and appearance just prior to the American Revolution.
In the very foreground we see two colonial-era figures sitting surrounded by rich and lush foliage. Church spires punctuate the skyline further back, while in the distance, the shore of Staten Island, then quite sparsely settled, is just visible on the horizon. The monuments Howdell depicted include (from east to west) St. George’s Church, the jail, the New Dutch Church, the French Church, the South Dutch Church, City Hall, the Presbyterian Church on Wall Street, King’s College (with a cupola), and Trinity Church. This fascinating glimpse of New York City, which then comprised little more than the very southernmost tip of Manhattan Island, is a very rare view dating from this crucial period.
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.
You are warmly invited to visit our gallery at 1016 Madison Avenue in New York City to view this work whenever it might be convenient.