Tuesday, March 24, 2009

John Bachmann

I've mentioned John Bachmann before, but I should note my new article, in the current issue of Imprint. It's been a pet project of mine since 1999 (here's an older version of the paper I did for the New England American Studies Association, from 2001), and it's gratifying to see it looking so nice. Here's a summary:

John Bachmann was born in Switzerland around 1814 and died in Jersey City, New Jersey around 1894. John Reps writes "No finer artist of city views worked in America," and indeed Bachmann's bird's eye views are unique in the history of American views for their combination of artistic technique inherited from European landscape drawing, in which he was trained and worked in Paris, and the experimental sensibility he had in constructing his views from viewpoints he had never seen. His career saw the transition from one-color stone lithography through multiple-tint-stone techniques into zinc chromolithography, and from printed views as decoration and commemration to views as promotional and speculative documents. His views reflect not only the changing landscape of New York City and the other cities he drew, but the changing landscape of the American print world.
If you want to see more of his work, a good start is the Library of Congress collection, which is split between the Geography and Maps Division (bird's eye city views and Civil War panoramic maps) and the Prints and Photographs Division. Other significant collections on-line include the New York Public Library. Non-online collections with significant holdings include the New-York Historical Society, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the Historic New Orleans Collection, and the Museum of the City of New York.

Anyway, it's nice to finally see this bit of work done...

1 comment:

Joe Banks said...

It's funny -- I used a couple of Bachman's perspectives in my thesis project, centered on the air rights just to the north of the current 30th st station in Philadelphia. Bachman's birdeye's represent this area as a lovely looped road through grassy pastures, when in fact it was at the time a slaghterhouse and butcher.

Such is the power of ink and imagination -- our marks can change history and reality.