Designed by McKim, Mead and White, the architects responsible for many of New York’s important buildings, the 40-story Manhattan Municipal Building was erected in 1914. It is an official New York City landmark and included in the National Register of Historic Places. Originally, vehicular traffic traveled beneath the central archway until a portion of Chambers Street was closed off; now it is only open to pedestrians. The Beaux-Arts building combines numerous classical elements. The central colonnade is modeled after the Roman Arch of Constantine and incorporates towering Corinthian columns and allegorical neoclassical bas-relief panels. The frieze on the façade of the colonnade is incised with historical names and dates of the city: “NEW AMSTERDAM – MDCXXV; MANAHATTAN; NEW YORK – MCDLXIV.” These dates refer to the establishment of Fort Amsterdam by the Dutch in 1625, and its reversion to the name New York, when it was relinquished to the English in 1674.
William Jean Beauley was an American painter, working in oil and watercolor, and a printmaker. He is especially known for the architectural aspects of his landscapes and New York City scenes. Born in Joliet, Illinois, he studied with Robert Henri in New York and with Yvon in Paris. He was a member of the Architectural League of New York (where he also won an award for his artwork in 1912), the Salmagundi Club, the American Art Association of Paris and the Philadelphia Art Club. During the New Deal in the 1930s, he was registered as a WPA artist. Two of his paintings are in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art.
Condition: Generally very good with only minor toning and handling. Short marginal tear repaired verso.
Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Who Was Who in American Art. Madison, Connecticut: Sound View Press, 1985. p. 42.
Federal Writers’ Project. New York City: Vol. 1, New York City Guide. Best Books: 1939. p. 101. Online at Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=KEwe-UMAYWEC&pg=PA101 (23 October 2013).
“Manhattan Municipal Building.” Wikipedia. 7 September 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Municipal_Building (23 October 2013).
“The Gate of the City. ID: 805969.” New York Public Library Digital Gallery. 25 March 2011. http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?805969(23 October 2013)