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View of the first house built in Chicago as it appeared in 1827. The house is situated on the bank of a river and is shown with a man driving a horse-drawn cart carrying logs toward a dock. According to the subtitle of the print, it was the residence of John Kinzie from 1804 to 1828.
John Kinzie (1763-1828) was the first permanent white settler in Chicago. Born in Quebec, he was an Indian trader in Detroit prior to his arrival in Chicago in 1804. There he purchased the house of early Chicago settler Jean Baptiste DuSable (who had moved to Peoria) and established a trading business in the area of Fort Dearborn. After an Indian attack on the white settlers and soldiers in 1812, known as the Fort Dearborn Massacre, Kinzie and his family left the area. Kinzie returned four years later, and remained in Chicago until his death in 1828.
Raoul Varin was a French engraver who exhibited in the Salon of French Artists and received an honorable mention in 1892. He engraved a variety of signed, limited edition numbered prints, principally New York City and Chicago views, in the 1920s and 1930s. They were published by A. Ackermann & Son, a British publisher, with offices in Paris, Chicago and New York. His views took a historical perspective, generally showing the cities in the 19th century, often based on extant classic works. Some of Varin’s Chicago prints were historical views based on 19th century illustrations that had been published in France by Jevne and Almini. He did many Chicago scenes such as Randolph Street Chicago From Clark to State Streets in the Year 1865 (Ackermann, Chicago: 1927), Chicago in 1871 – The Great Fire at the Junction of the North and South Branches of the Chicago River (Ackermann, Chicago:1928), The First House Built in Chicago as it appeared in 1827 (Ackermann, Chicago: 1930), and A Bird’s-Eye View of Lake Shore Drive Chicago 1889 from the top of the Water Tower (Ackermann, Chicago: 1932). A large collection of his Chicago views are in the collection of the Chicago Historical Society. In 1930, Varin did a pair of views New York from the North River 1839 and New York from the East River 1843, based on the original engravings by Robert Havell, Jr. (1793-1878). He also engraved St. Paul’s Church Broadway New York 1831 (Ackerman, New York: 1931), numerous views of Wall Street, etc.
“1850-1871.” Chicagology.com. 2003. http://www.chicagology.com/ChicagoPreFire.htm (30 April 2005).
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 8, p. 477.
Hucke, Matt. “Graveyards of Chicago, Graceland Cemetery: John Kinzie.” Graveyards.com. 1996-2002. http://www.graveyards.com/graceland/kinzie.html (3 August 2005).
“Prints & Photograph Collection.” Chicago Historical Society. http://www.chicagohs.org/collections/prints_collection.html (30 April 2005).