Joshua Shaw (1776-1860), Norfolk; From Gosport, Virginia
Joshua Shaw (1776-1860)
Norfolk; From Gosport, Virginia
From: The Landscape Album. Picturesque Views of American Scenery
Published by Philadelphia: Thomas T. Ash, ca. 1835, 1835
Handcolored aquatint plate (13 1/2 x 16 3/4 in.; 34.3 x 42.5 cm)
A reissue of the plate from the original 1820 edition by Mathew Carey in Philadelphia. From what was familiarly known as "The Landscape Album," this appealing portfolio of scenery was the inspired vision of Joshua Shaw, an accomplished British landscape painter whose idyllic pictures were regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy and the British Institute. In 1817, bearing a letter of warm introduction from Benjamin West, Shaw emigrated to America where he would play a seminal role in the development of the Hudson River School of landscape painting. Once settled, Shaw began to explore the rural areas of the northeast whose raw, powerful beauty of the untamed countryside thrilled his senses and imagination. He was baffled by the fact that few artists on either side of the Atlantic regarded American scenery as a subject of painterly merit. Shaw set about the task of converting the indifferent public perception of the picturesque by traveling "through the different states for the purpose of taking on the spot, the best and most popular views " He envisioned publishing his sketches as a series of some 36 scenic prints and occasional vignettes to be issued in six numbers by subscription. The Philadelphia publisher Thomas Moses first undertook the ambitious project in 1819 but relinquished control to Mathew Carey the following year. For lack of subscribers, the publication foundered after only 20 prints had been produced. Yet, his contemplative and atmospheric style was enthusiastically embraced by the Hudson River School, whose landscapes would be in strong demand from the mid-1820s well into the 1880s. Popular interest revived as well in Shaw's portfolio which Ash reprinted in 1835, according to the bibliographical consensus. In addition to the original vignette of the Monument near West Point, this set contains ten of the plates reissued with Ash's imprint: the pictorial title-page; Washington's Sepulchre Mount Vernon; Falls of St. Anthony on the Mississippi; Burning of Savannah; Norfolk from Gosport, Virginia; Passaic Falls, New Jersey; View of the North River; Hell Gate, Near New York; Oyster Cove; and Passaic River, Below the Falls. The Ash reissue is equally as rare as the Carey edition: it is not recorded in NUC or Worldcat. Deák does however mention a complete, uncolored set of the unbound portfolio at the New York Public Library. REFERENCES: cf. Deák 315; Stauffer 1343; Stokes III. Pl. 87a; not in Sabin or Bennett. PROVENANCE: Skinner Auctions, 8-16 May 2019, lot 256.
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