“ARGUABLY THE NATION’S LEADING COSMOPOLITAN AVENUE”: BEAUTIFUL LARGE AQUATINT OF LOWER BROADWAY, 1857
SEBRON, Hippolyte Victor Valentin, painter. GIRARDET, Paul, engraver. Winter Scene in Broadway / Scène d'Hiver dans Broadway. New York, Berlin, Paris and London: Michael Knoedler and Goupil & Cie, October 1, 1857. Print measures approximately 31 by 42-1/2 inches; framed, entire piece measures 47 by 38 inches. $7200.
Beautiful, large 1857 aquatint (engraved by Girardet after a painting by Sebron) depicting lower Broadway in winter, replete with such details as horse-drawn sleigh and streetcar; firemen, soldiers and pedestrians; and impressive edifices boasting American flags.
"Sebron, a native of Caudebec, France, was one of a succession of 19th-century European artists who ventured to the United States in order to develop its scenic attractions into paintings geared for sale in their homelands… New York City proved a wellspring for commissions, and during a fruitful stay there in 1854-55, Sebron executed a number of views of lower Broadway, arguably the nation's leading cosmopolitan avenue by that date" (Museum of the City of New York). The scene is identifiably lower Broadway—the avenue was, according to a contemporary report in Putnam's, "one promiscuous channel of activity and dissipation"—just above Spring Street. Six horses draw a public streetcar uptown while several traditionally uniformed volunteer firefighters pull their engine the opposite direction. The closest building on the left is the Gothic revival Divine Unity Unitarian Church, built in 1845. The signs borne by the men in front of the church appear to be advertisting P.T. Barnum's American Museum, "New York's incomparable headquarters of hoax and continuous, captivating entertainment" (MCNY), which stood a bit further south, at the corner of Ann Street.
A few tears expertly and unobtrusively repaired, one slightly affecting a small portion of the lower church facade. A fine print.