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The Fuller Building, 41 East 57th Street, 9th Floor New York City, NY 10022 212.535.8810
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$ 110,000

New York from Hoboken

Origin United States
Period 19th Century
Materials Oil on canvas
Dimensions
W. 24 in; H. 17 in;
W. 60.96 cm; H. 43.18 cm;
Condition Excellent.
Creation Date 1851
Description William Rickarby Miller was born in Staindrop, County Durham, England, and attended art school at Newcastle. He emigrated to America in about 1844–45, and by 1847 had set up a studio in New York City, where he resided for the rest of his life.

In the early 1850s the artist began to receive commissions to illustrate publications such as Homes of American Authors for G. P. Putnam & Company, and Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion. Miller supplemented this income with private commissions to paint “portraits” of people’s homes. He also painted genre compositions, portraits, and still lifes.

Miller is best known, however, for his topographical and landscape images, such as the present painting. The scene appears to be from the New Jersey meadows looking east to Hoboken, and across the Hudson River to Manhattan in the far distance. Like many early American landscapists, Miller grew out of the English topographical tradition, and New York from Hoboken bears some of the earmarks of that style: the subject is suitably placid and picturesque; the vegetation conventionalized while the buildings more or less empirically rendered; the classic s-curve of the stream is employed to transition the viewer from foreground to background.

Beyond these few conventions, the picture is anything but traditional. The work is surprisingly complex, as Miller seems to embrace, and even anticipate, the more sophisticated aesthetic of the Hudson River School. The colorful morning sky, with its wispy red clouds, far outshines that of any topographical painter in terms of poetry and drama, and brings to mind the brilliant skies of Frederic Church and Jasper Cropsey. Perhaps most impressive, however, are the luminist features of the painting. The composition is largely horizontal, with an extreme recession from foreground to background. The sky consumes over half the surface area, and the overall scene appears bathed in atmosphere and a pervasive golden light. The New Jersey meadowlands setting anticipates works of the same subject by Martin Johnson Heade, while the solitary boat with rowers in the foreground is reminiscent of the quietude of Fitz Henry Lane’s earliest Gloucester pictures.

Yet Miller’s vision avoids the melancholy of those works. Instead of focusing on nature, Miller turns his gaze toward the city to portray the promise and dynamism, albeit from a picturesque distance, of the metropolitan landscape he now called home. As if celebrating American progress, the sun rises behind the artist’s fair city, buildings and ship masts crowd the far shore, and church steeples (probably Trinity Church at middle right) and smoke stacks alike pierce the horizon triumphantly. Among the artist’s most overtly poetic statements, this is an immensely positive and hopeful image in which urban progress and the natural landscape coexist harmoniously.
Styles / Movements Realism
Dealer Reference Number APG 8314
Incollect Reference Number 256746
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