Visiting Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion? You must join the virtual exhibition queue when you arrive. If capacity has been reached for the day, the queue will close early.

Learn more
Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825-1861

Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825–1861

Voorsanger, Catherine Hoover, and John K. Howat, eds., with essays by Dell Upton, Carrie Rebora Barratt, John K. Howat, Kevin J. Avery, Thayer Tolles, Morrison H. Heckscher, Elliot Bostwick Davis, Jeff L. Rosenheim, Caroline Rennolds Milbank, Amelia Peck, Catherine Hoover Voorsanger, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, and Deborah Dependahl Waters
652 pages
642 illustrations
American Association of Museums Award for Museum Publications Design, Honorable Mention (2001)
New York Public Library "Book to Remember" (2000)
View More Publication Info

In 1825 the Erie Canal, connecting the Atlantic with the American heartland via the Great Lakes, was completed, and in 1861 the Civil War, disrupting American unity, began. This volume examines the exhilarating period between these two far-reaching events. The Erie Canal turned the port of New York into the gateway to the United States, ushering in a time of enormous growth and change for the city of New York. Still very much a work in progress, New York became both an international economic and cultural center: it was transformed into what contemporary observers variously termed the Empire City, the Great Emporium, and the Empress City of the West.

The cultural component of this transformation was as significant as its economic aspect. Highly skilled artists and craftsmen working in New York, both native born and immigrant, grew in number, and institutions devoted to the arts emerged and flourished. With Broadway at its heart, the Great Emporium developed into the nation's major manufacturing and retailing center, the depot for luxury goods made in and around the city and imported from Europe.

The complex story of the proliferation of the arts in New York and the evolution of an increasingly discerning audience for those arts during the antebellum period is the focus of this book, which accompanies a major exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In essays that will interest scholars as well as a more general audience, specialists from the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and the University of California at Berkeley bring new research and insights to bear on a broad range of subjects. Their texts offer both historical and cultural contexts and explore the city's development as a nexus for the marketing and display of art, as well as private collecting; landscape painting viewed against the background of tourism; new departures in sculpture, architecture, and printmaking; the birth of photography; New York as a fashion center; shopping for home decorations; changing styles in furniture; and the evolution of the ceramics, glass, and silver industries. This volume is lavishly illustrated in color and black and white, providing reproductions of the more than three hundred works in the exhibition as well as comparative material. A checklist of works in the exhibition, a bibliography, and an index are included.

New York from the Heights near Brooklyn, William Guy Wall  Irish, Watercolor and graphite on white wove paper, American
ca. 1820–23
Broadway, New-York from Canal to Grand Street, West Side, Julius Bien  American, Lithograph with tint stones and hand-coloring
Handkerchief, Cotton, copperplate printed, British, probably
British, probably
Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles, John Vanderlyn  American, Oil on canvas, American
The Sortie Made by the Garrison of Gibraltar, John Trumbull  American, Oil on canvas, American
Musidora, Asher Brown Durand  American, Engraving
Descent from the Cross, Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn)  Dutch, Etching and burin
Washington Crossing the Delaware, Emanuel Leutze  German American, Oil on canvas, American
Fisher Boy, Hiram Powers  American, Marble, American
1841–44; carved 1857
The Bay of New York Taken from Brooklyn Heights, William Guy Wall  Irish, Watercolor on off-white wove paper, American
Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), Julius Schrader  German, Oil on canvas
City Hall Park, New York, Alexander Jackson Davis  American, Watercolor, pen and black ink, heightened with white
Washington Allston, Edward Augustus Brackett  American, Marble, American
1843–44; carved 1843–44
Proposed Colossal Statue of George Washington for the City of New York, G. Thomas  American, Lithograph with tint stone
Multiple artists/makers
The Babes in the Wood, Thomas Crawford  American, Marble, American
ca. 1850, carved 1851
Indian Girl, or The Dawn of Christianity, Erastus Dow Palmer  American, Marble, American
1853–56; carved 1855–56
New Bowery Theatre, Elizabeth Street Facade, New York, Alexander Jackson Davis  American, Watercolor, pen and black ink over graphite
Church of the Ascension, Canal Street, New York, Michael Williams  American, Lithograph
Multiple artists/makers
ca. 1829
Design for Astor's Hotel, New York, Alexander Jackson Davis  American, Lithograph with watercolor
Showing 20 of 180

View Citations

Voorsanger, Catherine Hoover, and Metropolitan Museum of Art, eds. 2000. Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825 - 1861 ; [in Conjunction with the Exhibition “Art and the Empire City, New York, 1825 - 1861” ; Held from September 19, 2000, to January 7, 2001]. New Haven: Yale University Press.