A set of four mural studies by Angelo Magnanti, a New York muralist and interior architect, depicting scenes from the Bronx's early European settlement. Early settlers are depicted in their daily lives and also meeting with Native Americans. Each is executed en grisaille, in tones of white, black, grey, and brown, with indications of their scale relative to the planned murals in the lower right. They were commissioned in the 1930s for large murals by the artist for the main concourse of what was then the Dollar Savings Bank, 2516 Grand Concourse, Bronx, New York. In 1938, the first four murals were installed in marble Art Deco bays on the east wall of the bank. A fifth central mural, Welcoming Settlers at Fort Schuyler, also by Magnanti, was added in 1957. In 1992, the building became an Emigrant Savings Bank; two years later it was designated a New York City landmark. The murals are still there on view to the public.
The murals show the Bronx as early as 1639, when Jonas Bronck (d. 1643), a Scandinavian-born immigrant from Holland took advantage of an opportunity offered by the Dutch West India Company and staked a claim on about 500 acres of land across the river from Manhattan Island. He brought his wife, servants and livestock from Holland, and following the Dutch practice of clearing title to the land, purchased it from two Native American sachems (Algonquian chiefs), as depicted in Jonas Bronck Buying the Land from the Indians. Bronck built a stone house overlooking the confluence of the Harlem and East Rivers, depicted in Erecting the First Stone House. Though he only lived there for four years, his name became attached to his farm and the river that ran through it, which was called Bronck's River (now the Bronx River). This was eventually abbreviated to Bronx and became the name of the surrounding land as well. Another mural of early Bronx history in the series is Early Settlers Gathering at the First Community House. The fourth mural of The King's Bridge, shown in The Original Bridge Connecting the Bronx with Manhattan, is related to slightly later Bronx history. Built by a British lord in 1693 to span a creek that has since been filled in, the bridge was part of the Boston Post Road and connected what is known today as the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx with Marble Hill, which is part of the borough of Manhattan.
Angelo Magnanti was a New York artist who designed and produced large interior murals and mosaics, as well as advertising art, architectural renderings and illustrations. Born and trained in Italy, he immigrated to New York, where he decorated numerous banks and churches and two walls within Penn Station (that building was torn down in 1966). Magnanti designed the mosaic ceiling of the banking room of the Williamsburg Savings Bank and five painted murals of the history of the Bronx for the Dollar Savings Bank in the Bronx. For each of these bank projects, he worked with the principal architectural firm of Halsey, McCormack & Helmer. In 1935, Magnanti executed the decorative finishes for architect John Russell Pope's renovation and addition to the building housing The Frick Collection. Drawings for the renovation were among those exhibited at the Frick in 2010 to celebrate the museum's 75th anniversary. Indeed, The Frick Art Reference Library is decorated with an earlier Magnanti mural and houses an archive on the artist. Outside New York, Magnanti's projects included decorations for the conference room of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. and the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.
Condition: Illustrations on paper very good with the usual overall wear and toning. Some with small paste-over paper elements hand painted, by the artist, as issued, to make changes. Illustrations mounted, as issued, to illustration board. Blank borders on illustration boards with some glue adhesion and chipped abrasions from former matting. Light bumping to edges of illustration boards.
"Angelo Magnanti: Artist File: study photographs and reproductions of works of art with accompanying documentation 1920-2000." Worldcat.org. http://www.worldcat.org/title/angelo-magnanti-artist-file-study-photographs-and-reproductions-of-works-of-art-with-accompanying-documentation-1920-2000/oclc/078748031 (29 March 2013).
"From Mansion to Museum: The Frick Collection Celebrates Seventy-Five Years." 2010. The Frick Collection. http://www.frick.org/sites/default/files/archivedsite/exhibitions/75th/index.htm (29 March 2013).
Hansen, Harry. North of Manhattan. Hastings House, 1950. Excerpt online at Cultural Mosaic: http://www.bronxmall.com/cult/series/2.html (29 March 2013).
"Jonas Bronck." Wikipedia.org. 27 February 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonas_Bronck (29 March 2013).
"Kingsbridge, Bronx." Wikipedia.org. 27 March 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingsbridge,_Bronx (29 March 2013).
"Landmark Preservation Commission, July 19, 1994, Designation List 259 LP-1890." pp. 5, 8, 9 and 13. Online at Neighborhood Preservation Center: http://www.neighborhoodpreservationcenter.org/db/bb_files/1994DollarSavingsBankInt.pdf (29 March 2013).
Munch, Janet Butler. "Emigrant Savings Bank." Lehman College Art Gallery. http://www.lehman.edu/vpadvance/artgallery/arch/buildings/ESBank.html (28 March 2013).