Boat Yard on the East River

William Louis Sonntag, American, 1822 - 1900

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c. 1870-1874

Oil on canvas

Overall: 12 1/4 × 10 1/4 in. (31.1 × 26 cm)

Frame: 17 × 15 in. (43.2 × 38.1 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through the Robert J. Strasenburgh II 1942 Fund

2022.6

Geography

Place Made: New York, United States, North America

Period

19th century

Object Name

Painting

Research Area

Painting

On view

Inscriptions

On verso, by the artist, "On. The. East. River."

Label

William Louis Sonntag’s industrial scene upends our expectations of 19th-century American landscapes, highlighting the environmental impact of rapid industrialization. Man-made factories and smokestacks looming above New York’s waterways replace the mountains and lakes of the natural world. The sun’s orange reflections muted by an overcast and polluted sky imbue Sonntag’s scene with a sense of romanticism reminiscent of earlier American landscapes on this wall. Given its small size, Boat Yard may have been painted on the spot—the artist lived just a few blocks away from the river on East 22nd Street.

From the 2022 exhibition This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World, curated by Jami C. Powell, Curator of Indigenous Art; Barbara J. MacAdam, former Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art; Thomas H. Price, former Curatorial Assistant; Morgan E. Freeman, former DAMLI Native American Art Fellow; and Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art


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William Louis Sonntag’s industrial scene upends our expectations of 19th-century American landscapes by highlighting the environmental impact of rapid industrialization. Man-made factories and smokestacks looming above New York’s waterways replace the mountains and lakes of the natural world. The sun’s orange reflections muted by an overcast and polluted sky imbue Sonntag’s scene with a sense of romanticism, transforming the contaminated landscape into a scene of sublime beauty. Given its small size, Boat Yard may have been painted on the spot—the artist lived just a few blocks away from the river on East 22nd Street.

From the 2023 exhibition Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, curated by Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art

Course History

ANTH 7.05, Animals and Humans, Laura Ogden, Winter 2022

GEOG 31.01, Postcolonial Geographies, Erin Collins, Winter 2022

ANTH 50.05, Environmental Archaeology, Madeleine McLeester, Winter 2022

ANTH 50.05, Environmental Archaeology, Madeleine McLeester, Winter 2022

ARTH 5.01, Introduction to Contemporary Art, Mary Coffey and Chad Elias, Winter 2022

ANTH 3.01, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Chelsey Kivland, Summer 2022

ANTH 3.01, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Chelsey Kivland, Summer 2022

SPAN 65.15, Wonderstruck: Archives and the Production of Knowledge in an Unequal World, Silvia Spitta and Barbara Goebel, Summer 2022

First Year Student Enrichment Program - Cultures, Identities and Belongings, Francine A'Ness, Summer 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Art History 40.01, American Art and Identity, Mary Coffey, Fall 2023

Creative Writing 10.02, Writing and Reading Fiction, Katherine Crouch, Fall 2023

Geography 11.01, Qualitative Methods, Emma Colven, Fall 2023

Geography 2.01, Introduction to Human Geography, Coleen Fox, Fall 2023

Geography 31.01, Postcolonial Geographies, Erin Collins, Fall 2023

Exhibition History

Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, Israel Sack Gallery and the Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 29, 2023-June 16, 2024.

Publication History

Moure, Nancy Dustin Wall. William Louis Sonntag: Artist of the Ideal 1822-1900. Los Angeles: Goldfield Galleries, 1980, Catalogue No. 221, illus. page 91.

Provenance

Private collection; to Vose Galleries, Boston, Massachusetts inventory no. 21719, May 1965; private collection, Dedham, Massachusetts, June 1965, until 2014; by descent to private collection, Lexington, MA, until 2021; to Vose Galleries, Boston, 2021, stock no. 37263; sold to present collection, 2022.

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