A Federal period view of Baltimore by William James Bennett, one of the greatest artists specializing in city views of the early 19th century. This example was produced in 1941 on a larger scale than the original. Bennett visited Baltimore in 1830, with the purpose of making sketches for the aquatint he issued the following year. The print was praised in the September 28, 1831 issue of the Baltimore American newspaper as “the best print of the kind ever published in the United States.” The precise detailing makes it possible to identify all the buildings and landmarks featured in the work. Federal Hill is located on the south side of the Baltimore harbor in the heart of downtown. One of the original 1831 aquatints is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art.
British-born Williams James Bennett led the establishment of an independent American school of city view makers, developing the English topographical tradition in the United States. Bennett studied at the Royal Academy of Art in London, where he demonstrated an aptitude for landscape views. After three years of military service, he became a founding member of the Association of Artists in Water-Colours and received many commissions to illustrate books with aquatints. In about 1826, Bennett emigrated to New York City where he began producing watercolor and aquatint views of American cities. Bennett was esteemed by his contemporaries as a landscape artist in the topographical tradition.
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McCauley, Maryland Historical Prints, V26, p.20.
Stauffer, David McNeely. American Engravers on Copper and Steel. New York: Burt Franklin: 1907. 123.
Stokes, I.N. Phelps. American Historical Prints. P.1830-E-56.
“The Collection: National Gallery of Art.” National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C.: 2002. http://www.nga.gov/cgi-bin/pinfo?Object=65344+0+none (29 August 2002).
“William James Bennett.” American Art from the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C.: 2002. http://www.nga.gov/cgi-bin/pbio?242390 (29 August 2002).