West Point, from Phillipstown

William James Bennett American
Publisher Currier & Ives American

Not on view

This splendid vista shows the Hudson River as it curves between mountains located about fifty miles north of New York City. Making their way along the the river are numerous sailboats and one paddle steamboat. Across the river, at left on the opposite shore, is the United States Military Academy at West Point. Two goats resting In a rocky clearing of the central foreground enhance the bucolic nature of this spectacular panorama. This picturesque print is a Currier & Ives re-edition of the aquatint originally created in 1830 after a drawing made on site by William James Bennett, a preeminent topographical watercolor artist and aquatint printmaker, both in his native England and in the United States, where he settled in 1826. Bennett dedicated this print to Colonel and Brevet Brigadier General Sylvanus Thayer (1785-1872), known as "the Father of West Point," who served as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point from 1817 to 1833. Under Thayer's leadership, the Academy became the nation's first college of engineering; he also established numerous traditions and policies which are still in use at West Point.

Nathaniel Currier, who established a successful New York-based lithography firm in 1835, produced thousands of hand-colored prints in various sizes that together reveal aspects of mid-to-late nineteenth century American life. In 1857, Currier made James Merritt Ives, a a skilled accountant and his brother Charles's brother-in-law, a business partner; thereafter the firm was called Currier & Ives. People eagerly acquired Currier & Ives lithographs, such as those featuring impressive landscapes, rural and city views, hunting and fishing scenes, domestic life and numerous other subjects, as an inexpensive way to decorate their homes or business establishments. After Currier & Ives acquired the copper plate for Bennett's exceptional Hudson River view, the firm reissued the aquatint, one of the finest New York scenes created in that period.

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