Posts Tagged ‘East River paintings’

The mystery man in a rowboat on the East River

February 27, 2017

The Hudson has its beauty. But New York owes its financial power to the East River—not really a river of course but a 16-mile tidal estuary that for most of the city’s history was one of the busiest ports in the world.

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This late 19th century painting of a pale blue East River thick with ships on both sides and a lone man in a rowboat apparently struggling in the current is credited by one source to Impressionist William Merritt Chase.

I haven’t been able to confirm Chase as the artist. But as a Brooklyn resident in the 1880s, he often focused on the city’s physical beauty as well as scenes of day-to-day life that suggest a bit of mystery.

A winter view of the Depression-era East River

February 9, 2015

“New York City goes about its varied daily businesses in [John] Cunning’s painting, despite the Depression,” explains the description of this evocative view of a wintry river and city, on the website of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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“Whether or not their offices were full of workers, the Farmer’s Trust Building, 120 Wall Street, the Bank of Manhattan, 60 Wall Tower, and the Singer Building towered proudly against the gray sky,” states the site.

“Commuters who still had jobs had come from the outer boroughs in the ferry boats shown tied up at the Manhattan docks.”

“On the Brooklyn shore, cargo ships are tied up for loading or unloading. The men in the foreground are removing snow from the roofs of a coffee warehouse on Water Street near the Brooklyn Bridge.”

Cunning, a WPA artist, completed “Manhattan Skyline” in 1934.

“The Lone Tenement” beside the East River

May 27, 2011

George Bellows painted many busy, emotional New York scenes in the early 20th century. “The Lone Tenement,” from 1909, depicts a raw city and its cast-off residents.

“George Bellows was a poet of the city, an artist who loved New York as much as Monet loved his garden or Bierstadt loved the Rocky Mountains,” states Artcyclopedia.com.

“There are so many things to look at in this picture that Bellows hardly knows where to direct our attention: sunlight randomly glinting on a window, transients huddled around a fire, a horse-drawn carriage, a ship belching steam on the East River, and in the center a lonely building withering in the shadow of the then-brand-new Queensboro Bridge.”

A misty, muted view of the East River

January 20, 2010

“East River Scene” by American painter Elias Ben Delman gives us smoke-spewing tugboats, murky blue-gray water, and a Manhattan skyline that seems obscure and awfully far away.

This painting has something subdued yet magical going on. I wish I knew more about the artist and the scene he chose to depict.