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Guide to the William James Bennett Print Collection
  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.

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.


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