Central Park New York, Preparing for A Drive
Henry Schile, c. 1875
Schile Central Park
Schile Central Park Schile Central Park Schile Central Park
Henry Schile
Central Park New York, Preparing for A Drive
Hand-colored lithograph
New York: c. 1875
20 x 27 inches, sheet
$600

Two children prepare for a ride in a goat-drawn carriage in Central Park, under the supervision of their elegantly dressed mother, who is seated on a brown stone bench. The boy arranges the goat's harness while the little girl waits in the carriage. Beyond them is the stone bridge over the lake. Vivid shades of red, blue, green and gold are set against the browns of the path and background. This print of Central Park in the summer has characteristic Schile subject matter and black margins. He also did a print of Central Park in the winter showing skaters on a pond and a horse-drawn sled.

Central Park came into being beginning with an act passed on July 21, 1853 by the New York City Common Council authorizing the construction of a public park bounded by 59th and 106th Streets, Fifth and Eighth Avenues. The park was conceived to provide recreational open space for citizens of the growing city, which then had few open squares. The site that was destined to become Central Park was then “a bleak, rubbish-strewn area littered with squatters' shacks.” (Deák) Central Park opened in 1857, and in 1858, the job of improving and expanding it, transforming the area into a pastoral oasis for the “toiling masses,” was awarded to Calvert Vaux, a young British architect, and Frederick Law Olmstead, an American farmer and magazine editor. Reconstruction began that same year and was completed in 1873.

Henry Schile was a German immigrant based in lower Manhattan, a prolific producer of colorful lithographs, generally in folio sizes. His favored subjects were genre pictures, people in landscapes and dramatic scenes from American history. He also produced both Christian- and Jewish-themed religious subjects and melodramatic spiritual allegories such as "Hope" as a woman rescued from the ocean by an angel. Another Schile print shows a train "Crossing the Continent." These large prints were presumably designed to be affordable decoration for the middle class, including his fellow immigrants. Several of his prints are in the Prints and Photographs Collection of the Library of Congress.

Condition: Generally very good with only minor wear and toning.

References:

Deák, Gloria Gilda. Picturing America: 1497-1899. Vol. 1. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1988. pp. 535-536.

Peters, Harry T. America on Stone. U.S.: Doubleday, Doran, 1931. pp. 358-359.

"Prints & Photographs Online Catalog." Library of Congress. 23 January 2004. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/pgahtml/pgaAuthors08.html (23 February 2004).