BENNETT, William James (c.1784-1844), engraver
City of Washington From beyond the Navy Yard
New York: Lewis P. Clover, 1834. Hand coloured aquatint, engraved by Bennett after G. Cooke. Sheet size: 21 1/4 x 26 3/4 inches.
Monumental view of Washington D.C.
William James Bennett (c. 1787-1844) was born in England and received his training at the Royal Academy. He emigrated to the United States in 1826, and is best known for his views of American cities, including the Hudson Valley Region, Niagara Falls, and numerous port cities such as New York, Charleston, and Buffalo. With the arrival of William Bennett and several other émigré artists such as William Guy Wall, and John Hill, the quality of aquatint engraving in America was elevated to a level equaling, or perhaps even surpassing, that of European printmakers. This print was published at the beginning of an important period in the history of American topographical-view making. "Bennett etched four prints after paintings by George Cooke (1793-1849) in his series of views of American cities ... American-born George Cooke was a prolific painter of portraits, views, and historical subjects. He painted this scene of West Point in 1832 after he had left New York ... for .. the Catskill mountains" (Deak William James Bennett p.78). "Cooke benefited from the remarkable craftsmanship of ... Bennett, who endowed the rendering with a radiant quality" (Deak Picturing America p.277).