Shortly after John Bachmann published the first birds eye view of Boston in 1850, the accomplished artist J.W. Hill prepared this romantic view of the city. In composing his rendition, Hill employs traditional ground-level or landscape perspective. He places the waterfront and the cityscape in the bottom two fifths of the drawing while filling the upper three fifths with the dramatic setting of a cloud-filled sky. Hill portrays the city from the northeast as if standing across the harbor in East Boston. His drawing emphasizes the citys waterfront and wharves, with a number of ships and workmen dominating the foreground. Meanwhile the buildings within the cityscape were depicted in an unusually accurate manner with the State House providing the central focal point. Church steeples, smoke stacks, and the Bunker Hill Monument pierce the skyline, announcing their importance as the citys most prominent structures. The original painting for this engraving was prepared by J.W. Hill, one of the great mid-19th century American artists. He was well-known for landscapes and city scenes throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England states and the Maritime Provinces. While this view was printed by the engraving process, Hill prepared at least 27 views of other cities, which were printed by lithography. Some of these employed a ground level vantage point, such as this view of Boston, but many displayed a slightly elevated perspective. In a few, he used a perspective from a higher elevation, more typical of the traditional birds eye view, so that he could depict the citys street pattern and the facades of buildings. Displayed here is an uncolored proof sheet of Hills 1857 view. The engraving was prepared by Charles Mottram, a leading English engraver, and published by Smith Brothers in New York, who published many of Hills other urban views.
- Hill, J. W. (John William), 1812-1879
- Name on Item:
painted by J.W. Hill ; engraved by C. Mottram.
Boston Public Library
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center
- Collection (local):
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Collection
Boston (Mass.)--Aerial views
- 1 view ; 63 x 98 cm.
No known copyright restrictions.
No known restrictions on use.
New York :
Smith Brothers & Co.
Not drawn to scale.
Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1857; by B.F. Smith in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Mass[achusetts].
"Printed by McQueen."
- Notes (exhibitions):
Exhibited: "Boston & Beyond: A Bird’s Eye View of New England" organized by the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, 2008.
- Call #:
G3764.B6A35 1857 .H5