The Gilded Age beauty of the Sixth Avenue El

Last week, Ephemeral New York created a post around a moody, magical nocturne of an elevated train on the move in 1938 Manhattan. The artist is Jack Lubin, a WPA painter whose work reflected the Art Deco/Modern style that took shape during the Depression.

“The El, New York (Sixth Avenue El-Nocturne)” by Childe Hassam, 1895

Almost 50 years earlier, Childe Hassam also painted a Manhattan elevated train making its way through the cityscape. In his vastly different Impressionist style, Hassam gives us a nocturne of the Sixth Avenue El under the blue glow of Gilded Age New York.

“Created during the artist’s most prolific and creative period, The El, New York (Sixth Avenue El–Nocturne) is emblematic of the artist’s quintessential 1890s style with its loose, yet controlled, brushstrokes conveying the energy and motion of the city,” wrote Christie’s in 2018, when this wondrous painting was up for sale. “Pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages occupy the wide street as the El Train passes on the left. The smoke from the train billows into the night sky, already lit by the glowing orange and yellow streetlamps.”

Two very different paintings with the same theme, both enchanting and hypnotic in their own ways.

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8 Responses to “The Gilded Age beauty of the Sixth Avenue El”

  1. VirginiaLB Says:

    What a great ‘compare and contrast”, including one from one of my favorite artists, Childe Hassam. Thanks so much for sharing so many wonderful images and stories.

  2. fotoflowsolutions Says:

    Holy cow that sold for a lot of dough.

  3. Benjamin P. Feldman Says:

    I don’t understand the part about “50 years ago.” There were no elevated railroads in NYC in 1845

  4. Barbara Dulski Says:

    can’t begin to tell you how much I love impressionist paintings of NYC

  5. Bill Wolfe Says:

    What a beautiful painting! It made me think of Jack Finney’s great novel, Time and Again, which takes place at roughly the same time this painting was created. The characters often rode the El and this painting lets me see exactly what that would have looked like to them.

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