The subtitle below the title in the lower margin notes that the John Street Methodist Church was, “The first erected in America. Founded AD 1768” (the congregation was founded in 1766, but 1768 was the year the church building was dedicated). A third building was erected in 1841 on the site at 44 John Street in Lower Manhattan near South Street Seaport is still home to the Methodist congregation today and is a Heritage Landmark of The United Methodist Church.
John Hill began his career as an aquatint engraver of landscapes in his native London, publishing a series of views after the paintings of J.M.W. Turner and others. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1816 and continued engraving for the next 20 years, first in Philadelphia and later in New York. Hill is best known for his pair of New York City prints, New York From Weehawk and the companion view New York from Heights near Brooklyn; The Landscape Album, a series of large aquatints of American landscapes, after the paintings by Joshua Shaw; and the Hudson River Portfolio after paintings by William Guy Wall. His son and grandson, John William Hill and John Henry Hill, also became noted landscape painters.
Joseph B. Smith and Peter C. Smith were probably brothers and were based in New York City and Brooklyn. They are best known for this print. Joseph was a marine and townscape painter and published views of other churches, including a later engraving of the Methodist Church in 1868, a lithograph titled Sing-Sing Camp Meeting, and painted ship portraits and marine scenes in partnership with his son William S. Smith.
Full publication information: Sold by Myers & Smith 59 Fulton Street.
“A Correct View of the Old Methodist Church…” Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/380789 (16 November 2017).
Fielding, Mantle. Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers. Green Farms, Connecticut: Modern Books and Crafts, 1926, rev. ed. 1974. p. 169 (Hill).
Groce, George C. and Wallace, David H. The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America 1564-1860. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969. pp. 315-316 (Hill), 589 (Smith).
“History.” John Street Church. http://www.johnstreetchurch.org/history.html (16 November 2017).
“John Street United Methodist Church.” General Commission on Archives and History, United Methodist Church. 2017. http://www.gcah.org/research/travelers-guide/john-street-united-methodist-church (16 November 2017).
Koke, Richard J. A Checklist of the American Engravings of John Hill (1770-1850): Master of Aquatint, Together with a List of Prints Colored by Him and a List of His Extant Original Drawings. New York: New-York Historical Society, 1961, 97.
Stokes, Isaac Newton Phelps. The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909, compiled from original sources. 5 vols., 1915–1928, vol. I, pp. 344-6, pl. 43.