William James Bennett (American, born England, 17871844)
Watercolor on off–white wove paper; 9 5/8 x 13 5/8 in. (24.4 x 34.7 cm)
The Edward W. C. Arnold Collection of New York Prints, Maps, and Pictures, Bequest of Edward W. C. Arnold, 1954 (54.90.130)
Born and trained in London, Bennett learned well the conventions of the architectural and street views perfected by the Venetian artist Antonio Canaletto, who worked in England in the mid-eighteenth century. Emigrating to the United States about 1826, Bennett adapted the conventions to New York, then undergoing rapid urbanization with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. In this watercolor, the bustle of South Street mediates between the forest of masts and bowsprits and the opposing palisade of warehouses. Bennett engraved this watercolor for Megarey's Street Views in the City of New York (1834).