HILL, John (1770-1850, engraver) & William Guy WALL (1792-1864)
View Near Fort Miller. No. 10 of the Hudson River Port Folio (later No. 9)
New York: Henry J. Megarey, . First state. Aquatint, colored by hand, by John Hill, after W.G. Wall.
A great example of one of the earliest and finest American printed landscapes
In the summer of 1820 the Irish-born and trained landscape artist William Guy Wall (1792-after 1864) went on an extended sketching tour of the Hudson River Valley and its environs. A selection of Wall's watercolors recording sights on his tour was engraved by the master printmaker John Hill (1770-1850) in The Hudson River Portfolio, published in New York City by Henry J. Megarey between 1821 and 1825. Long considered a cornerstone in the development of American printmaking and landscape painting, its twenty topographical views cover roughly 212 miles of the 315-mile course of the Hudson River. This undertaking paved the way for a wider public appreciation of landscape in the United States. The first series of prints to make Americans aware of the beauty and sublimity of their own scenery, the seminal Portfolio helped to stimulate national pride and cultural identity.
In the first state, this is plate 10 and in the subsequent state plate 9. Its text begins: "View Near Fort Miller Bridge / Fort Miller is a small village in the township of Argyle and Washington county; thirty-seven miles north of Albany, and thirteen south of Sandy-Hill. The great post-road from Albany crosses the bridge at this place. There are some considerable rapids and falls near this place; the latter of which were about eight feet in height when this view of the river was taken. Over these falls it is by no means unusual for raftmen to precipitate their rafts. General Putnam is said to have been the first who tried this daring achievement. A party of Indians came suddenly upon him, as he was lying near the rapids with a bateau and five men. The situation of this village is pleasing; the country about it picturesque; and the soil favourable to cultivation."
This serene landscape portrait looking down the great Hudson River toward West Point is a fine example of the Wall/Hill collaboration in which an apparently straightforward depiction of water, trees, hills and sky creates a rich, evocative mood, a sense of vast calm.
Koke, A Checklist # 92; Deak, Picturing America #320; from New York Historical Society notes to an exhibition.