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Guide to the William James Bennett Print Collection
[1826]-1844
  PR 220

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jenny Gotwals

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 01, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Title: William James Bennett Print Collection
Dates: [1826]-1844
Abstract: Early engravings and aquatints of New York City and other east coast port cities.
Quantity: 0.42 Linear feet (47 prints)
Location note: Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections
Call Phrase: PR 220

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Biographical Note

William James Bennett was born in England in ca. 1784, and was educated in painting, sculpture, and engraving at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. He was an active exhibitor of watercolors in London in the years between 1808 and 1825, and produced aquatint plates for many illustrated books. He immigrated to the United States in 1826, where his reputation as a watercolorist ensured his election the next year as associate member of the National Academy of Design. Bennett often exhibited at the National Academy, and from 1830 to 1840 he was named Keeper, a teaching and administrative post which allowed him to live in the NAD's building.

In addition to his skill with watercolors, Bennett was also a master of aquatint, and made prints after many of his own paintings. His first set of commissioned prints in New York, which were published as Megarey's Street Views in the City of New-York; are all scenes of Manhattan which he rendered first in watercolor, then as aquatints. While many other painters and printers worked on bucolic landscape views which were increasingly popular with the public, Bennett often chose cityscapes or street scenes as his subject. These subjects proved to be popular as well; Bennett exhibited his work regularly in the United States, and was sought after as an engraver and illustrator. In 1843 and 1844 he engraved ten illustrations for the pages of the  New Mirror, a New York City literary publication issued weekly by George P. Morris and Nathaniel P. Willis. Bennett died in May of 1844. He is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Source:

  • Deak, Gloria Gilda. William James Bennett: Master of the Aquatint View. (New York: New York Public Library, 1988.)

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Scope and Content Note

The William James Bennett Print Collection spans the period from ca. 1826 to 1844 and contains 46 prints of 33 aquatint views engraved by Bennett, both black and white and hand-colored. This collection contains several prints of New York City scenes and views, as well as views of other cities in the southern United States and as far west as Michigan. Most of the prints were published either by Henry J. Megarey or Lewis P. Clover, both New York printers. The majority of Bennett's large American engravings are represented here, and many were engraved by Bennett after his own drawings. Others were engraved after drawings or paintings by John William Hill, Nicolino Calyo, and other, lesser-known, artists. The collection is arranged into two series: Views of New York City; and Views Outside New York City.

Arrangement

The prints are arranged in two series. Thereunder they are filed chronologically.

  1. Series I. Views of New York City
  2. Series II. Views outside New York City

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Calyo, Nicolino, 1799-1884
  • Clover, Lewis Peter, b. 1790, printer
  • Hill, J. W. (John William), 1812-1879
  • Megarey, Henry I. Megarey's street views in the city of New York
  • New mirror
  • Tower, F. B. (Fayette Bartholomew) Illustrations of the Croton Aqueduct

Document Type

  • Aquatints

Subject Organizations

  • Porpoise (Brig)

Subject Topics

  • Fires — New York (State) — New York

Subject Places

  • Croton Aqueduct (N.Y.) — Pictorial works
  • New York (N.Y.) — Fires and fire prevention
  • New York (N.Y.) — Pictorial works

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Administrative Information

Provenance

The collection is compiled from a variety of gifts and purchases. The largest gift came on November 16, 1900. The portfolio (with wrappers) of Megarey's Street Views in the City of New-York, which was originally owned by the engraver James Smillie, was a gift of his descendent Mrs. Ralph Smillie in 1969.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to thirty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. See guidelines in Print Room for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from:
Rights and Reproductions
The New-York Historical Society
Two West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282
Fax: (212) 579-8794

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as William James Bennett Print Collection, PR 220, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material at the New-York Historical Society

Bennett's plates for the two views of the great fire of 1835 are part of the Printing Plate File (PR 057) in the Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections. In addition, two prints aquatinted by John Hill after paintings of Niagara Falls by Bennett can be found in the John Hill Print Collection (PR 217). The Society's Library holds three copies of Tower's Illustrations of the Croton Aqueduct. The Society's Museum's Department of Painting, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts holds several drawings and paintings by Bennett.

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Container List

Series I. Views of New York City

Scope and Contents note

Series I. Views of New York City contains eleven views of New York City. These prints are organized into three subseries: Megarey's Street Views in the City of New-York; Other Views of New York City; and Illustrations for the  New Mirror.

Prints are listed chronologically by date painted or engraved, and are black and white aquatints unless otherwise noted.

Subseries I: Megarey's Street Views in the City of New-York

Scope and Contents note

Subseries I. consists of three images by Bennett published by Henry Megarey in 1834 as Megarey's Street Views in the City of New-York. Megarey originally planned to publish four sets of views with three views per set, but published only this first set. The three views are "Broad Way from the Bowling Green," one of Bennett's first engravings made in America, "South St. from Maiden Lane," and "Fulton St. & Market." These early views of New York show busy commerce and harbor scenes, as well as a thriving residential neighborhood at Bowling Green and lower Broadway. This subseries includes a rare complete set of the three prints in their original portfolio wrapper, which was owned by the American engraver James Smillie (1807-1885), in addition to several loose copies of each view.

Container 1     Title Date
Folder: 1 "Broad Way from the Bowling Green," after Bennett's own design.

General note

Two copies, one a proof before letters

[1826]
Folder: 2 "South St. from Maiden Lane," after Bennett's own design.

General note

Two copies, one a proof before letters

[1828]
Folder: 3 "Fulton St. & Market," after Bennett's own design.

General note

Colored

[1828-1830]
Folder: 4 Complete set of three views in original wrapper, in portfolio.
[1826-1830]

Subseries II: Other Views of New York City

Scope and Contents note

Subseries II. includes two different views that show the fire that ravaged downtown New York on December 16th and 17th, 1835. One of these, the view from the Bank of America building, shows the Merchant's Exchange (which would burn to the ground) on fire. From 1831 to 1842, Bennett issued nineteen folio engravings of views of American cities, some based on his own drawings, others based on sketches or paintings by other artists. Eleven of these views, considered to be some of the finest early American city views, are included in this collection. Two of these are views in New York City: "View of the New York Quarantine, Staten Island," and "New-York. Taken from the Bay Near Bedlows Island," a view of the harbor.

Container 1     Title Date
Folder: 5 "View of the New York Quarantine, Staten Island," after Bennett's own design, published by Parker & Co. and Lewis P. Clover, New York, 1833.

General note

Two copies, both colored

[1833]
Folder: 6 "New-York. Taken from the Bay Near Bedlows Island," after John Gadsby Chapman (1808-1889).

General note

Proof before letters

1835
Folder: 7 "View of the Great Fire in New-York, Decr. 16th& 17th 1835 as Seen from the top of the Bank of America. Cor. of Wall & Wm. St."after Nicolino Calyo (1799-1884), published by Lewis P. Clover, New York, 1836.

General note

Three copies, all colored.

1835
Folder: 8 "View of the Ruins after the Great Fire in New-York. Decr. 16th &17th 1835. As Seen from Exchange Place," after Nicolino Calyo, (1799-1884), published by Lewis P. Clover, New York, 1836.

General note

Three copies, all colored.

1835

Subseries III: Illustrations from the New Mirror

Scope and Contents note

Illustrations from the New Mirror include four small views, two views of the New York skyline, and two scenes of ships. This subseries includes Bennett's last engraving, "the U. S. Frigate Hudson," published in the 2 June 1844 issue of the  New Mirror. All prints are after Bennett's own design.

Container 1     Title Date
Folder: 9 "View of Weehawken Bluff from the Hudson"
1844 Feb. 24
Folder: 9 "View of the Bay of New York from the Battery"
1844 Feb. 3
Folder: 9 "The U. S. Frigate Hudson, Returning from a Cruise with a Fair Wind"
1844 Jun. 2
Folder: 9 "The U. S. Brig Porpoise in a Squall"
1844 Aug. 3

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Series II: Views outside New York City

Scope and Contents note

Series II. includes the remaining nine prints from Bennett's folio views. These are mainly city views, including prints showing Detroit, Charlestown, Baltimore, West Point, Richmond, Buffalo, Mobile, and New Orleans. It also includes three different views of Niagara Falls and one print of the Trenton Falls near Utica, New York. The cities included here are notable as a group for their close proximity to and dependence on water. Many of these views use an elevated perspective to look down on the city shown, often from across a body of water or atop a topographical feature.

This series also includes all seven illustrations of the Croton Aqueduct, plates which were engraved by Bennett after Fayette B. Tower's drawings. These prints, as well as other views by different engravers, were published in Tower's Illustrations of the Croton Aqueduct (New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1843).

Prints are listed chronologically by date painted or engraved, and are black and white aquatints unless otherwise noted.

Container 1     Title Date
Folder: 10 "Niagara Falls. View of the American Fall, Taken from Goat Island," after Bennett's own design, published by Henry J. Megarey, New York, 1830.

General note

Two copies, one colored.

1829
Folder: 11 "Niagara Falls. View of the British Fall, Taken from Goat Island," after Bennett's own design, published by Henry J. Megarey, New York, 1830.

General note

Two copies, one colored. The uncolored copy is a later state, published by Joseph Lord.

1829
Folder: 12 "Niagara Falls, from the Table Rock," after Bennett's own design, published by Bennett, New York, 1840.
1829
Folder: 13 "West Point, from Phillipstown," after Bennett's own design, colored by John Hill (1770-1850), published by Parker & Clover, New York, ca. 1831-1833.

General note

Three copies of fourth state, one colored.

1830
Folder: 14 "Baltimore from Federal Hill," after Bennett's own design, published by Henry J. Megarey, New York, 1831.

General note

Colored

1830
Folder: 15 "West Point, from above Washington Valley, looking down the River," after George Cooke (1793-1849), published by Lewis P. Clover, New York, 1834.

General note

Third state, colored

1832-1833
Folder: 16 "City of Richmond, Virginia. From the Hill above the Waterworks," after George Cooke (1793-1849), published by Lewis P. Clover, New York, 1834.

General note

Second (or later) state, colored

[1833]
Folder: 17 "View of the High Falls of Trenton, West Canada Creek, NY," after Bennett's own design, published by Lewis P. Clover, New York, 1835.

General note

Colored

[1834]
Folder: 18 "Buffalo, from Lake Erie," after a sketch by John William Hill (1812-1879), published by Henry J. Megarey, New York, 1836.
[1835]
Folder: 19 "City of Detroit, Michigan. Taken from the Canada Shore near the Ferry," after a sketch by Frederick Grain (fl. 1833-1857), published by Henry J. Megarey, New York, 1837.

General note

Colored

1836
Folder: 20 "City of Charleston S. Carolina looking across Cooper's River," after George Cook (1793-1849), published by Lewis P. Clover, New York, 1838.

General note

Colored

1836
Folder: 21 "Troy, New York," after a painting by Bennett, published by Henry J. Megarey, New York, 1838.

General note

Proof before letters

1837
Folder: 22 "U.S. Ship of the Line Pennsylvania in a Gale," after James Fulton Pringle.

General note

Proof before letters

1839
Folder: 23 "New Orleans, Taken from the opposite side a short distance above the middle or Picayune Ferry," after a sketch by Anthony Mondelli (fl. 1821-1856), published by Henry J. Megarey, New York, 1841.

General note

Colored

1841
Folder: 24 "Mobile, taken from the marsh opposite the city near Pinto's Residence," after a sketch by William Todd, published by Henry J. Megarey, New York, 1842.

General note

Colored

[1841]

Plates after F. B. Tower, from Illustrations of the Croton Aqueduct, 1843.

Container 1     Title Date
Folder: 25 Plate IX. "View Above the Croton Dam"
Folder: 25 Plate XII. "Croton Aqueduct at Sing Sing"
Folder: 25 Plate XIV. Aqueduct Bridge for Roadway"

General note

Two copies

Folder: 25 Plate XV. "Croton Aqueduct, at Mill River"
Folder: 25 Plate XVI. "Croton Aqueduct at Jewells Brook"
Folder: 25 Plate XVIII. "Croton Aqueduct at Yonkers"
Folder: 25 Plate XX. "View of the Jet at Harlem River"
Folder: 25 Plate XXI. "Croton Aqueduct at Clendinning Valley"

General note

Two copies

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