James Edward Buttersworth
New York Harbor with Castle Clinton, a Pilot Ship and a Frigate
Signed J. E. Buttersworth (lr); indistinctly stamped in German on the reverse
Oil on artist's board
8 x 10 inches
Depicting a bustling day in New York Harbor, this vibrant scene includes a view of Castle Clinton, built to protect New York Harbor from the British during the War of 1812. To the left is a triple-decker vessel that appears in quite a number of paintings by Buttersworth, and that appears to have been a product of his imagination. [Rudolph J. Schaefer, J. E. Buttersworth, 19th--Century Marine Painter, Mystic Seaport, 1975, p. 108] The Harbor is awash with sailing ships of all sizes - but at the center we see the dispatch boat of The New York Herald on its mission of intercepting ships arriving from Europe, to retrieve the news they carried. James Gordon Bennett, flamboyant publisher of the Herald, had initiated this practice in the 1830s, with the intention of being the first to publish news from abroad and beating his competitors (who waited until the ships had docked) to the punch. With increasing cooperation among newspapermen in the 1840s, and the advent of the telegraph in 1848, such schemes were no longer necessary.
Castle Clinton itself was converted into a restaurant and theatre in 1824, and in 1855 began to serve a new function - as the official immigrant processing center in the nation. It continued in that role until 1890.
C The Nelson Doubleday, Jr. Collection
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