HILL, John (1770-1850, engraver) & William Guy Wall (1792-1864)
View Near Fort Montgomery. No. 22 of the Hudson River Port Folio
New York: Henry J. Megarey, . Aquatint, colored by hand, by John Hill, after W.G. Wall. Sheet size: 18 1/2 x 25 1/2 inches.
Superb example of one of the greatest and earliest works devoted to the American landscape.
"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 and was so popular that it was reprinted in 1828 by G. & C. & H. Carvill. It is no wonder that Wall is often seen as a forerunner of the first group of American landscape painters to focus on American subjects known as the Hudson River School. Wall and Hill demonstrate in this view their great talent for investing apparently simple and random scenes with grandeur and intrigue. The focal point of the image is an unadorned raft with a number of men shown from so far away that there no distinguishing individual characteristics: they are mere figures floating down the calm, mirror-like river. The hills that slope down into the river are reflected to such a degree that it's hard to discern exactly where the hills stops and the reflection begins. The succession of hills and the river recede into the distance beneath a gray sky, also reflected in the river. The hills, river and sky seem to have a quiet liveliness of quite a different order than that of the active little figures on the raft. First state of three, before the plate was corrected to No. 18.
Koke, A Checklist #82; Deak, Picturing America #320.