Drawings of landmark buildings were a specialty of Rile’s. He did at least one other known series of New York City views now in the New-York Historical Society. He also made a series of drawings of places in Whitewater, Wisconsin, where he lived for a number of years as a young man. His drawings exhibit a keen sense of the history of the City and its urban development with the passage of time, from its 17th-century Dutch colonial origins to the early 20th-century, employing attention to accuracy and detail though in simple sketch renderings. The collection as such, as rendered with titles, reflects the deep personal passion that the artist had for the subject matter.
Henry E. Rile was a prolific artist based in New York City who specialized in drawings of buildings in black ink, gray wash and graphite on paper. The New-York Historical Society has a large collection of over 125 works of various views of places in New York City dated between c. 1859 and 1915 by Henry and by his son Lovett Rile (1888-1943), including a sketchbook with 278 drawings. The Whitewater Historical Society has a diary and a collection of pencil drawings and watercolors of buildings in Whitewater, Wisconsin, almost certainly by the same Henry Rile, whom they describe as a “young New York State resident” and “Yankee immigrant who lived in Whitewater between 1856 and 1862.” The drawings were donated to both historical societies by his descendants.
Full manuscript title page: New York In the Days Gone By of Old. Drawings made from Small and Large Pictures From Various Sources Mostly From Corporation Manuals of the City of New York. Some Original. By Henry E. Rile. 1912. [Note: Although Rile evidently created the title page in 1912 many of the drawings were made in later years.]
Condition: Condition varies; please ask for details on specific ones. These are from a uniform series, most titled and dated by the artist. Some of the drawings have images drawn directly on entire sheet; the size of the image varies leaving margins, but generally each image fills the page well. Some of the drawings have images on a separate sheet, mounted to the larger 11 x 14 inch sheet; the size of the image varies leaving margins, but generally each image fills the page well. Some images are vertical; some are horizontal. Some images uniformly toned. Otherwise generally with the usual overall light toning, wear, and handling. Some vary with occasional pale scattered foxing, short tears or minor chips in margins, not obtrusive.
“Henry E. Rile.” New-York Historical Society. 2023. https://emuseum.nyhistory.org/people/4666/henry-e-rile/objects (6 February 2023).
“Lovett Rile.” Ancestry.com. https://www.ancestry.com/genealogy/records/lovett-rile-24-216tw8t (6 February 2023).
“March 2008 Newsletter.” Whitewater Historical Society. 2008 March. https://whitewaterhistoricalsociety.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=159&Itemid=515 (6 Feburary 2023).
“Rile Collection.” Whitewater Historical Society. https://www.whitewaterhistoricalsociety.org/exhibits-collections/rile-collection (6 February 2023).