Drawn, printed, and published by JOHN BACHMANN (1814-1896): Bird’s Eye View of New York and Brooklyn.

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Drawn, printed, and published by JOHN BACHMANN (1814-1896):

Bird’s Eye View of New York and Brooklyn.

Tinted lithograph, 34 ½” x 26” sheet, 46 ⅛” x 37 ¼” framed.

New York: Bachmann, 1851.

The present copy of the “Bird’s Eye View of New York and Brooklyn” is framed and in excellent condition. It was formerly owned by the Down Town Association in New York.

Price: $5,500 ____________________________________________________________________________

“No finer artist of city views worked in America than John Bachmann. Unfortunately, there is no artist about whom less is known, for information concerning his life seems to be nonexistent. His name and its first appearance on a city view in 1849 strongly suggest that he was German and one of the many artists who came from that country in the middle and late 1840s as a result of political disturbances in their homeland.”

Thus John William Reps (1984) introduces a central, albeit elusive, figure in the visual history of New York. With their imaginary and consistently high viewpoints Bachmann’s prints are superb records of urban growth and economic prosperity, perpetuating a long standing tradition of bird’s eye views that reaches as far back as the Renaissance and the perspectival experiments of Jacobo de’ Barbari.

In addition to his virtuoso compositions, Bachmann stands out for his technical mastery. Again, Reps (1984) describes his oeuvre in superlative terms: “Bachmann brought with him fully developed artistic, lithographic, and printing skills, for his earliest prints reveal a high level of competence and complete command of the lithographic medium.”

The present view of New York was published in 1851 - at the beginning of his career. Focussing on depictions of the city for some 35 years, his prints are an invaluable chronicle of architectural change. Landmarks like Broadway, Trinity Church, and even Federal Hall are given a high level of attention and remain immediately recognizable.

For collecting purposes, it should also be noted that Bachmann lithographs from the 1850s are considered to be especially desirable.

Lit. John William Reps: “Views and Viewmakers of Urban America: Lithographs of Towns and Cities in the United States and Canada, Notes on the Artists and Publishers, and a Union Catalog of Their Work, 1825-1925”, Columbia 1984.