New York City, a View from Brooklyn

by Joseph Pennell


DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 11 x 13 inches (27.9 x 33 cm)
SIGNATURE: Titled, signed ‘Joseph Pennell’, and inscribed (verso)
MEDIUM: Watercolour on paper

A cityscape of New York by Brooklyn based artist, Joseph Pennell.


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    Catalogue No: 6696 Categories: , Tags: , , , ,

    Pennell’s distinction is as a highly talented original etcher and lithographer and illustrator, a writer, influential lecturer and critic.

    Private collection, USA

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    Joseph Pennell was born in Philadelphia in 1857 to Quaker parents and moved to Germantown, Maryland when he was 10. His abrupt personality led to a turbulent early school life and he spent much of his time drawing, a skill not recognised at school but it was soon clear his talents lay in graphic arts rather than painting. In his twenties he went to evening classes at the School of Industrial Arts and thanks to his tutor was later accepted into Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
    He opened his own studio in 1880 and was successful from the start, getting commissions from Harpers and Century Magazine. In 1884 he left the US on a commission for Century Magazine to produce drawings of London and Italy, plus English and French Cathedrals.
    Together with his wife, Pennell co-authored articles, books and biographies, becoming an art critic for a national paper. Sometimes his outspokenness caused upset with artists and the Academy alike.
    Pennell returned to America in 1904, producing a series of striking New York images marking the dramatic change that new development, like the Flatiron Building, the Times Building and the many towering skyscrapers still under construction, were making to the Manhattan skyline. This work was published in both American and British magazines, and Pennell returned to document New York in 1908.
    During WWI Pennell obtained permission to record the war effort, sketching munitions factories in the north of England. His work was successfully published and gained him acclaim and an invitation to portray the war in France. What he saw there was too horrific and he left with no pictorial evidence. He left for America with his wife and in 1917 was authorised to make records of the US war effort, moving to Brooklyn in 1921.
    In 1925 Pennell published The Adventures of an Illustrator. He was working as a teacher at the Art Students League up until a week before his death. Among his students was Frances Farrand Dodge. He contracted influenza, which developed into pneumonia, and died at home in the Hotel Margaret, Brooklyn Heights on 23 April 1926.
    To this day, Pennell’s distinction is as a highly talented original etcher and lithographer and illustrator, a writer, influential lecturer and critic.

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