SPLENDID PANORAMIC VIEW OF POSTBELLUM NASHVILLE.
Drawn and published by H. Wellge & Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
18 ½ x 37 ¾ inches (45.85 x 95.89 cm) Lithograph, titled, dated, and bearing imprint identifying H. Wellge & Co. as lithographer and publisher on bottom edge. Annotation identifying the Nashville Banner newspaper as sponsor on top margin. Annotated with key along bottom margin (fading and toning consistent with age).
This formidable lithograph offers a bird’s eye view of Nashville in the 1880s, and is one of the earliest panoramic maps of this vibrant city. Drawn and published after Reconstruction and before the devastating fire of 1916, this work captures a pivotal moment in the city’s transformation into an urban hub for education, commerce, and culture.
Throughout this view we see prominent Nashville landmarks depicted in striking detail, including the Tennessee State Capitol (center right) and the Cumberland River (lower right). There is also a wealth of schools spread across the city, such as the University of Tennessee, Tennessee State Normal University, and Fisk University--institutions that cemented Nashville’s reputation as the “Athens of the South” ( J. Egerton, 111).
This work also offers a rare view of Vanderbilt University in its early years, a “peerless” beacon of higher learning in the South (J. Egerton, 111). Endowed in 1873 by the rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, the renowned university opened in 1875 with a 75-acre plot in the west end of Nashville, visible here on the far left (J. Egerton,111 & 147). The buildings and houses of the original campus are intricately rendered, including the iconic Kirkland Hall, the university’s very first building, captured here in its original French Victorian Gothic design before it was partially destroyed and rebuilt after a fire in 1905 (J. Egerton, 147). Also visible are the lush trees that line the campus, some of which were hand-planted by the school’s first president, Bishop Holland McTyeire, and remain to this day in Vanderbilt’s magnificent arboretum.
Henry Wellge was one of the most prolific city view artists in America, producing over 150 views of towns and cities over the course of his career. His splendid portrayals of Southern cities in the 1880s provide precious records of urban landscapes in the post-Civil War period, when many other viewmakers had ceased or reduced production (John Reps, 213-14).
References: John Egerton, Nashville: The Faces of Two Centuries (Nashville 1979); http://www.vanderbilt.edu/
You are warmly invited to visit our gallery at 1016 Madison Avenue in NYC to view this work whenever it might be convenient.