|East Coast — After John Bachman - View Generale de New-York, Prise a Vol d'Oiseau|
|After John Bachman - View Generale de New-York, Prise a Vol d'Oiseau
Published: Paris: Wild Editeur c. 1860
Medium: Hand-colored lithograph
Dimensions: Approximate Framed Size 28 x 34 1/4 inches
No finer artist of city views worked in America than John Bachman[n] (the name appears on prints as both Bachman and Bachmann, the later being used more often). Unfortunately, there is no artist about whom less is known, for information concerning his life appears to be almost nonexistent. His name and its first appearance on a city view in 1849 strongly suggests that he was a German and one of the many artists who came to America from that country in the mid and late 1840s as a result of political disturbances in their homeland. 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. He began his American career, however, as a publisher of a splendid view of New York City as seen from a point high above Union Square looking south to the Battery and the harbor.
The first views drawn by Bachmann appeared in 1850. For that of New York, he was not only the artist and lithographer but the publisher as well. He drew, lithographed and published a Boston view in that year, and he drew and put on stone a Philadelphia view that Williams and Stevens published. Bachmann concentrated his attention on a few large cities, but he also did a view of Superior, Wisconsin, and two of Hoboken, New Jersey. It was on New York City that he focused his efforts, producing views in 1849, 1850, 1851, 1858, 1861, 1865, 1866, 1868, 1870, 1874, 1877, 1878, 1879, and 1885. While a few of these represent variant states, most of them were new images and thus provide a graphic chronicle of the growth and change in these cities over a period of more than thirty years as seen through the eyes of a single artist.
Bachmann chose to portray New York and other subjects as if seen from imaginary viewpoints far above even the loftiest office building or church steeple. Indeed, his superb Boston lithograph of 1850 may have been earliest to use in its title the words "bird's eye view" to describe this pictorial approach. Bachmann may not have been the first artist to apply in America this method of depicting cities, long used in Europe, but his consistent use of the technique must have helped popularize it. Taken together, Bachmann's views offer a rich sampling of lithographic achievement in this country. Those he executed during the 1850s are particularly outstanding and justifiably regarded by collectors and museum curators as among the finest American view to be found.