Portland, Me. J. W. Hill, after, Charles Parsons, lithog.
Portland, Me.

Portland, Me.

New York: Smith Brothers & Co.; Printed by Endicott & Co., 1855. Tinted lithograph, 22.75” x 40”, plus margins.

John Hill’s 1855 view of Portland, Maine from Cape Elizabeth—perhaps the best known topographic view of the port city—showing in wonderful detail the flourishing conditions there before the Civil War and the Great Fire of 1866.

The captivating quality of this view is achieved through its broad foreground area where a large and varied crowd has gathered along the shore to witness the launching of a large vessel and a variety of ships populate the waters of the Fore River near the entrance to Casco Bay, such as the 240 ft. steamer Daniel Webster. The cityscape—featuring church steeples, cupolas and the Observatory on Munjoy Hill at right—is relatively narrow, while an expansive sky with billowing clouds is seen above. Enjoying wide recognition, Hill’s charming view later served as the basis for other views of the city.

Son of the aquatint-etcher John Hill, John William Hill (1812–1879) worked as a watercolorist for printmakers and achieved popular acclaim as a view artist. Hill’s view of Portland was lithographed in New York by Charles Parsons (1821–1910) and published by Smith Brothers & Co. of Boston. Remarkable for its topographical accuracy and picturesque effect, it is one of the largest and most ambitious panoramic views created in Maine. The work was preceded by Hill’s equally accomplished 1854 view of Bangor.

Born in Britain, Charles Parsons emigrated to America where he painted in oil and watercolor and worked in lithography. After apprenticing at George Endicott’s lithographic studio at the age of fifteen, Parsons worked for Nathaniel Currier and later Currier & Ives, where he specialized in the creation of the firm’s marine lithographs. From 1863 to 1889 he headed the art department of Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s Magazine, where he supported the fledgling careers of artists such as Winslow Homer, Edwin Austin Abbey, Howard Pyle, and others; before his retirement from Harper’s he became a full partner.

Endicott & Co. was established in New York by the lithographer George Endicott (1802–1848) of Massachusetts in the 1840s and operated until the late 1880s. The company produced sheet music covers, advertising posters, city views, nautical prints, portraits, and more.

REFERENCES: Stokes & Haskell 1855 G-15; Reps 1233; Podmaniczky, Christine B. and Erle G. Shettleworth. Through a Bird’s Eye : Nineteenth-Century Views of Maine (Rockland, Maine: William A Farnsworth Library and Art Museum, 1981), 8–16 pp.

CONDITION: Good, lightly toned, faint streaks in upper corners, last line of dedication along bottom edge partially trimmed away, no tears.

Item #3420

Price: $5,500.00

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