The Lamp Lighter

William P. Chappel American

Not on view

The city slumbers as a lamplighter makes his rounds, ladder and lantern in hand, in one of only three evening scenes in the series. The waxing crescent moon casts soft shadows on lower Broad Street, but the tranquility of this work belies potential perils lurking in the dark streets. As early as the 1760s, the city’s Common Council attempted to discourage nighttime muggings and robberies by installing whale-oil lamps maintained by municipal lamplighters. It would not be until the 1820s that the dim light from the smoky, unreliable whale-oil lamps was replaced by the luminous glow of a new technology—gas light.

The Lamp Lighter, William P. Chappel (American, 1801–1878), Oil on slate paper, American

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