BREATHTAKING EARLY VIEW OF BOSTON
Engraved by James Newton. 22 ¾ x 32 ¼ inches sheet, 35 x 44 ½ inches framed.
This breathtaking work offers the finest 18th century view of Boston. Engraved by Newton based on the drawing by British soldier and artist Pierrie, this view shows Roxbury, Boston Harbor, and the city of Boston taken from a vantage point in Dorchester. The city of Boston and the splendid Boston Harbor are visible in the distance. The Shirley Eustis house, home to Governor WIlliam Shirley and late Governor William Eustis, in Roxbury can be seen in the middle ground.
Some sense of Boston’s early geography as a peninsula is gained from this British officer’s rendering of it not long before the outbreak of hostilities with England. The view embraces a wide ring of the town’s bucolic surroundings while clearly showing its peninsular formation It was connected to the mainland by a narrow neck that just prevented it from being an island. By the end of the next century, the insular quality of this strategic spit of land had already begun to erode when new routes of access by land were created. As the population increased and space grew scarce on the peninsula, not only were landfill projects steadily undertaken, but Boston’s three large hills were cut down to provide the landfill. The hills formed a high rugged mass extending through the center of the peninsula, known as the Trimountain…In this carefully drawn ‘Atlantic Neptune’ engraving, an image of the Trimountain has been nicely preserved. Visible on one of its hills (originally called Sentry Hill) is the beacon erected by order of the General Court in 1634 to warn the inhabitants of any danger. Known as Beacon Hill today, this topographic elevation, massively cut down, serves as a pale reminder of Boston’s earlier humped formation.
In 1773, English drawings and engravings focused on Boston for several reasons. Boston was not only one of England’s thriving colonial seaports, it was also the city where disenchantment toward the mother country was most clearly in evidence. The Boston Massacre had only recently taken place; the defiant Boston Tea Party would soon be staged.
Reference: Gloria Gilda Deak, “Picturing America, 1497-1899.”
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