MILBERT, Jacques Gerard (1766 - 1840). Amerique Septentrionale Etat du Virginie (View of Natural Bridge). Paris: Henri Gaugin, 1828-29.
Hand-colored lithograph. (20 ½ x 13 ½ inches). (Good margins and excellent color)
Striking steel plate engraved image of Natural Bridge, Virginia. The images presents us with a beautiful example of the natural limestone arch above Cedar Creek, in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia.
Natural Bridge was one of the tourist attractions of the new world that Europeans visited during the 18th and 19th centuries. Vacationing guests from all over the world took day trips from Natural Bridge on horseback or horse-drawn carriages to explore the countryside. In 1833, a new owner erected the Forest Inn to accommodate the increasing number of people. The bridge had considerable notoriety during the 19th century, with artists from all over the States and the world coming to see the natural beauty and attempt to capture it on paper. The powerful influence of the Voyages pittoresques on French topographical lithography is everywhere evident in these plates.
Milbert arrived in the United States in 1815, with the backing of the Museum of Natural History in Paris, with instructions to explore, record, and collect as much information about the topography, social history, and flora and fauna of the north east of the country as possible. The task took him seven years, and in addition to the 8,000 natural history specimens he sent back to France, he made a series of highly significant sketches of the areas through which he travelled. The present image, an important early example of the use of lithography for topographical prints, is part of this eye-witness record of life in America in the early 19th century which forms the most comprehensive and accurate depiction of the country at the time. As 'an artist, Milbert loved to paint American landscapes, particularly those that showed the Hudson, "King of Rivers", flowing majestically through the mountains. the pictures of what he saw, as of the time he drew them, constitute a unique and valuable record' (Sherman)
For more information on this print, or a warm welcome to see the other beautiful parts of our collection at 72nd Street NYC, please contact Natalie Zadrozna.