Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Firemen's Washing Day

Artist:
William P. Chappel (American, 1801–1878)
Date:
1870s
Medium:
Oil on slate paper
Dimensions:
6 x 9 1/8 in. (15.2 x 23.2 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
The Edward W. C. Arnold Collection of New York Prints, Maps, and Pictures, Bequest of Edward W. C. Arnold, 1954
Accession Number:
54.90.496
Not on view
The two brigades depicted here on Bowery (likely from nearby Fire Houses 1 and 2) are killing two birds with one stone. On the one hand, they are following regulations mandating the regular washing of the brightly painted manual pump engines. On the other, the fiercely competitive companies are showcasing their respective pumping prowess for an admiring public. By the early 1800s, firefighting was becoming more professionalized, and companies developed into tightly knit fraternal brigades of working-class volunteers. Each company also had a fan base, usually boys who hung around the fire houses. Chappel has included two examples of such fans at lower left.
Inscription: [on the back]: No 9 / The Firemans Washing Day the Meeting of Two / Compys, then Sports--in the Bowery Corner of / Grand St NY in 1810 / The Firemans Washing Day Between No. 1 & 2 / 1810 / W P Chappel
Edward W. C. Arnold, New York, until died 1954
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