SCENOGRAPHIA AMERICANA - Captain Thomas HOWDELL, after.
A South East View of the City of New York, in North America ... [With:] A South West View of the City of New York, in North America
London: printed for John Bowles, Robert Sayer, Thos. Jefferys, Carington Bowles and Henry Parker, [circa 1768]. Two engraved views by Canot after Howdell. Sheet sizes: 19 1/4 x 26 1/8 inches.
The famed Howdell-Canot views of New York.
Published following the conclusion of the French and Indian War, and in a period of great public interest in the American colonies, the Scenographia Americana was the first book dedicated to a large-scale artistic depiction of the American landscape. From the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the West indies, the scenes include locations of battles, views of strategic provincial capitals, and newly secured areas of commercial importance. Just as clear is the celebration of nature's 'astonishingly great' expanse, to cite Pownall, great in width and in height. Here are harbors and rivers, cascades, forests and skies" (Hood).
In 1768, the plates were published in three forms: the complete set of 28 engraved plates (priced at four guineas); and as seven separate suites or individually, as follows: six views of Canada after Smith (plates 1-6, priced 1 guinea); two views in Canada (plates 7-8, priced 7s); two views of New York after Howdell (plates 9-10, priced 7s) [as here]; two views of Boston and Charlestown, SC (plates 11-12, priced 7s, 6d for the pair or 3s, 6d individually); six views after Pownall (plates 13-18, priced 1 guinea); six views of Havana after Durnford (plates 19-24, priced 1 guinea); and four views in the West Indies after Campell (plates 25-28, priced 14s).
Little is known of Howdell's life other than the outline of his military career. His name first appears in the Army Lists in 1747 and continues until 1771. In 1763 he commanded the seventh company of the third battalion of the Royal Artillery, stationed in New York. He produced the above two views of the city published in the Scenographia.
The southwest view is from Mount Pitt which shows the Rutgers house built in 1754-5, looking across the harbour to the roofs of the city with Trinity Church and the New (or Middle) Dutch Church prominent on the skyline. The southeast view from shows a young "gentlemen in fashionable eighteenth-century garb ... idling on the rolling slopes of a still bucolic Manhattan ... The two buildings on the extreme left of the view are St. George's Church, on Beekman Street, and the jail. The large building in the center of the view is King's College (now Columbia University); the church behind it, at the right, is Trinity. The five prominent buildings between the tall, leafy [`Palm'] tree and King's College are, from left to right, the New (later Middle) Dutch Churh, the French Church, the South Dutch Church, the City Hall, and the Presbyterian Church on Wall Street. Behind the more distant of the two fences appear the palisades built in 1745. At the right of the view, the westernmost block-house and gate that protected this line of fortifications can be seen. The large building between the blockhouse and Trinity is probably Vauxhall" (Deak).
The dating of this issue, with the added imprint, is ascribed from the mid-1760s to as late as 1774, i.e. after Carington Bowles took over the business in St. Paul's Churchyard but before Sayer began trading as Sayer & Bennett.
Deak 115 and 116; Stokes Iconography I. pp. 279-281 (plate37) and pp. 295-296 (plate38).