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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Wall Street, 1820, at the Duncan Phyfe Show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

We're a little late to the game on this post -- in fact, you only have one more day to see the Duncan Phyfe exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The show closes May 6, 2012 (i.e., tomorrow), but if you are looking for something to do tomorrow, it is well worth a visit. Not only does it showcase the work of a great New York cabinetmaker, it is also your opportunity to examine a little-seen painting of the city, Wall Street 1820 by Johann Heinrich Jenny.

The painting (on loan to the museum from a private collection) is an amazing view of the city nearly 200 years ago. The above black-and-white reproduction does no justice at all to the vibrant colors of the original, which looks like it could have been painted yesterday.

Views of Wall Street were common in the nineteenth century, as it was not just the financial center of the city, but--prior to the move by the wealthy to Greenwich Village and Brooklyn Heights--its residential heart as well.

(The second view, below, shows the street in 1847, as more and more Greek Revivial banks came to dominate the area.)

If you do go see the show, there's a gallery talk at 10:00AM on May 6.

* * * 
For more about New York in 1820s, pick up a copy of
Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City,available from the Metropolitan Museum's gift shop, and fine booksellers everywhere.

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