Attributed to John Hill (American, 1770-1850), Wall Street Watercolor and pencil on paper
Attributed to John Hill (American, 1770-1850)
Watercolor and pencil on paper
Signed 'J.H.H.' lower right ca. 1835
Sight size: 7 ¾ x 11 ¼ in.
Framed size: 12 x 15 ¼ in.
A fine and detailed 19th century view of Wall Street by watercolorist John Hill. The view is from Wall Street looking toward Trinity Church. The Merchant's Exchange at 55 Wall Street is prominently featured on the left side. In 1907 the building was enlarged with a second colonnade and additional floors above its original design seen here. John Hill was born in London in 1770, and was apprenticed as a youth to an engraver. He became interested in the process of aquatinting, a technique wherein a metal plate is etched several times in order to create tonal gradations, resulting in a print that is easier to hand-color due to the variety of subtle tones produced. Hill began working in London under his own name in 1798, and mainly produced aquatints that were used for book illustrations.
In 1816, in order to support his family of six children, John Hill immigrated to Philadelphia, then a major center of publishing in the United States. His earliest American engravings were mainly city views, which were, as in England, published as book or magazine illustrations. He was able to earn enough in America to bring his family to join him in 1819. Most members of Hill's family, including his wife and daughters, worked alongside him in some capacity, helping pull proofs or hand-color prints. Hill's son, John William Hill (1812-1879) became a skilled painter as well as an engraver and assistant to his father. In 1822 Hill moved to New York City in order to work more intently on the Hudson River Portfolio with William Wall. While in New York, Hill engraved several city views, including one of City Hall. The practice of aquatint flourished in the 1820s and 1830s, as did Hill's reputation and business. In 1837, Hill and his wife moved to Rockland County, New York, where they had purchased land near West Nyack. Hill died in 1850.
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