Art/ Collection/ Art Object

West Point (No. 16 of The Hudson River Portfolio)

The Hudson River Portfolio
John Hill (American (born England), London 1770–1850 Clarksville, New York)
after William Guy Wall (Irish, Dublin 1792–after 1864 Ireland (active America))
Henry J. Megarey (American, 1818–1845 New York)
Aquatint printed in color with hand-coloring; first state (Koke)
Image: 14 1/16 x 20 3/16 in. (35.7 x 51.3 cm)
Sheet: 19 x 24 1/2 in. (48.3 x 62.2 cm)
Credit Line:
The Edward W. C. Arnold Collection of New York Prints, Maps and Pictures, Bequest of Edward W. C. Arnold, 1954
Accession Number:
Not on view
The fort and military academy at West Point are viewed here from the opposite bank of the river. John Agg's related text tells us, "there is scarcely a traveler who has visited the Highlands, who has not concentrated his attention...on the situation and character of this nursery of military talent...and prolific fountain of future glory and security. Standing on a commanding elevation, in the centre of a panorama of mountains, no situation could be better calculated for all the purposes of abstract study. The rocks around it seem to form an eternal barrier against the intrusion of distracting temptations; the mountain air is propitious to bodily health; the unbroken calm which perpetually reigns, induces the mind to apply to those resources from necessity, which from inclination, it might less frequently place in requisition." The print comes from the Hudson River Portfolio, a monument of American printmaking produced through the collaboration of artists, a writer, and publishers. In the summer of 1820, the Irish-born Wall toured and sketched along the Hudson, then painted a series of large watercolors. Prints of equal scale were proposed—to be issued to subscribers in sets of four—and John Rubens Smith hired to work the plates. Almost immediately, Smith was replaced by the skilled London-trained aquatint engraver John Hill, who finished the first four plates, and produced sixteen more by 1825. Over the next decade, the popularity of the Portfolio stimulated new appreciation for American landscape, and prepared the way for the Hudson River School.
Inscription: Inscribed in plate, lower center: "West Point / No. 16 of the Hudson River Port Folio / Published by Henry I. Megarey New York"; lower left: "Painted by W. G. Wall"; lower right: "Engraved by I. Hill"
Letterpress description on opposite page
Edward W. C. Arnold; Donor: Bequest of Edward W. C. Arnold
Stokes III.573.16; Fielding III.643; Koke 1961, 41
Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909, compiled from original sources. 5 vols., 1915–1928, vol. III, p. 573, no. 16.

Mantle Fielding American Engravers upon Copper and Steel: Biographical Sketches and Check Lists of Engravings: A Supplement of David McNeely Stauffer's American Engravers. 1917, vol. III, nos. 643, p. 136.

Richard J. Koke "John Hill, Master of Aquatint, 1770–1850." New-York Historical Society Quarterly. vol. 43, no. 1, January 1959, pp. 86-92, 101.

Richard J. Koke 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 Historical Society, 1961, cat. no. 94, p. 41.

Kevin J. Avery American Watercolors and Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Voume I, A Catalogue of Works by Artists Born before 1835. New York, 2002, Hill's various roles in "The Hudson River Portfolio" summarized, cat. no. 14, p. 104.

Roberta J. M. Olson, Alexandra Mazzitelli Drawn by New York: six centuries of watercolors and drawings at the New-York Historical Society. 2008, Discusses the American careers of Hill and Wall, and the latter's watercolors for the Hudson River Portfolio, the eight known survivals of which are at the New York Historical Society, pp. 98-99, 166-168.

Michael Botwinick, Bartholomew W. Bland, Laura L. Vookles, Geoff Snell, Pat Hardy, Tara Dawson The Panoramic River: The Hudson and the Thames. Exh. cat., February 2 to May 19. Hudson River Museum, 2013, pp. 137, 192.

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