The City of Boston. 1879. J. C. Hazen, del.

The City of Boston. 1879.

Boston: O. H. Bailey & J. C. Hazen, 1879. Armstrong & Co., lithographers, Riverside Press, Cambridge. Lithograph, 28.625” x 44.125” plus margins.

One of the largest and most spectacular bird’s eye views of Boston ever published, with the built environment of the city rendered in meticulous detail.

This magnificent view shows the city from an elevated imaginary vantage point in the east, looking toward the Charles River and Cambridge in the west. The wealth of detail achieved is nothing short of astounding. In the foreground, numerous vessels ply the waters of Boston Harbor, and every wharf and pier along the waterfront is carefully delineated, including the interesting variety of buildings erected upon them. The famed irregularity of the city’s layout lends a peculiarly entrancing, multi-faceted quality to this view, with buildings huddled along streets running at every conceivable angle. Several Boston landmarks are immediately recognizable, including the State House, Trinity Church, and Boston Common, while a key in the title margin identifies fifty-nine features of the city, including buildings, parks, cemeteries, monuments, etc. Much of the city exhibits a remarkable density of construction, including the extensive portion that was rebuilt following the devastating Great Fire of 1872, while a large portion of Back Bay remains undeveloped. Although the publication credit cites both O. H. Bailey and J. C. Hazen, the original drawing for this view is held by the Leventhal Center at the Boston Public Library and bears only Hazen’s name, suggesting that he alone drew the view.

James Compton Hazen (1852–1908) began his career in drawing and publishing views in the early 1870s, mainly in association with H. H. Bailey. In 1877 he began working with Bailey’s brother, O. H. Bailey, a partnership that lasted until 1880. In addition to the present view, the two published views of Pawtucket, Rhode Island; New Haven, Connecticut; Foxborough, Mass, and other towns and cities. From 1880 onwards Hazen published several views with E. H. Bigelow of Framingham and one final view with O. H. Bailey in 1904, depicting Lynn Woods in Lynn, Mass.

Oakley Hoopes Bailey (1843–1947) was a prolific American viewmaker, artist and lithographer active in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Bailey was born in Beloit, Ohio and entered Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio in 1864 but soon left to serve with the Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, returning to his studies afterwards and graduating in 1866. Bailey was the younger brother of view artist, Howard Heston Bailey (1836–1878) whose example he followed, producing his first city view in 1871, Bird’s Eye View of the Towns at the Mouth of the Menominee River [Wisconsin]. Active from 1871 to 1926, Bailey is known for more than 375 recorded city views—covering more than thirteen states and two Canadian provinces, making him one of the most active viewmakers in U.S. history. In 1875, he settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts and most of his subsequent work focused on Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bailey worked with many other U.S. viewmakers of the period, including his brother, H. H. Bailey, Thaddeus M. Fowler, and J. C. Hazen, among others. Bailey died in his hometown of Alliance at the ripe old age of 103.

Charles Armstrong (1836–1906), was one of Boston’s most notable lithographers with a long and distinguished career. He was born in London and began training as an artist at an early age with his father, Thomas Armstrong, a wood engraver. Subsequently, he studied at the Marlborough House School and afterwards entered a seven year apprenticeship with Leighton Brothers, Printers, working as a wood engraver and lithographer. Following his apprenticeship, he joined Vincent Brooks, a chromolithographer, ultimately becoming chief artist for the firm, before immigrating to New York in 1866 and establishing Armstrong & Bencke. In 1868 or 1869 he joined the celebrated lithographic firm, Louis Prang & Co., where his work achieved international recognition. In 1871 he entered the partnership of Armstrong, McLellan & Green, then established his own firm, Armstrong & Co., the following year. The fledgling company was soon burned out of its shop in the Great Fire, but rebounded, entering into fruitful partnerships, with Edward T. Hornblower, a stockbroker and H. O. Houghton and Company (later Houghton Mifflin), as well as a long productive relationship with the publisher Charles Scribner of New York. Armstrong printed color plates for Scribner’s for more than thirty years, including such lavish chromolithographic productions as American Yachts (1884) and A. B. Frost’s Shooting Pictures (1896).

A truly marvelous American city view.

REFERENCES: Reps, John W. Views and Viewmakers of Urban America (Columbia, MO, 1984), #1380 and pp. 162-163, 182; Pierce, Sally and Catharina Slautterback. Boston Lithography, 1825-1880 (Boston, 1991), pp. 126-127.

Offered in partnership with Geographicus Rare Antique Maps.

Item #5552

Price: $15,000.00

See all items in Maps, Prints & Drawings
See all items by ,