W.H. Bartlett. “Principal Front of the Capitol Washington.” From N. P. Willis’s American Scenery. London: George Virtue, [1839-1840]. Octavo: ca. 5 x 7. Steel engraving. Very good condition.
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William Henry Bartlett (1809-1854) was a British landscape artist famous for his views of all parts of the world which appeared in a series of travel volumes issued in the nineteenth century. In 1837 British publisher George Virtue began to publish what would become the most successful of all Bartlett’s series, a work written by American author Nathaniel P. Willis and entitled American Scenery: or Land, Lake, and River Illustrations of Transatlantic Nature. The book and its prints were first issued in a series of parts running to November 1839, and then the entire work was issued in two volumes in January 1840.
This book and Bartlett’s prints were a huge success. American Scenery was reissued numerous times up to about 1870 and the prints (and pirated copies of them) appeared not only in these volumes, but also in magazines, other books, and as separate prints. Bartlett made several trips to the United States to gather sketches for American Scenery. He followed the popular tourist route from New York City, up to the Hudson and then west to Niagara Falls. Also visiting New England and the mid-Atlantic region, Bartlett produced distinct and well loved images of most of the major sites of interest to tourists, both European and American. This collection of charming prints of the natural wonders, architectural monuments and city landmarks captures the look and feel of the United States in the 1830’s as no other and they remain some of the most popular and pleasing prints of America ever issued.