DescriptionThe Hon. Paul H. Buchanan, Jr. Collection
ROBERT HAVELL, JR. (British/American, 1793-1878)
View of the Hudson River from Tarrytown, Old Dutch Church, Beekman Manor House, circa 1866
Oil on canvas
22 x 30 inches (55.9 x 76.2 cm)
Signed and inscribed verso (obscured by relining): View of the Hudson River / from Tarrytown / Old Dutch Church Beekman Manor House / Robt Havell
with Robert Paul Weimann, Jr, Ansonia, Connecticut, in 1966;
with Kennedy Galleries, New York, 1983 (label verso);
Purchased from Kennedy Galleries, New York, October 25, 1983.
National Academy of Design, New York, 1866, no. 39;
"Artists of the Hudson River School," R. W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport, Louisiana, October 14 - November 25, 1973, no. 8, ill p. 14 (label verso);
"Follow the Sun," Hammond Gallery, North Salem, New York, September 17 - November 20, 1980.
Havell is best-known as the principal engraver for John James Audubon's ambitious Birds of America. His beautifully-composed paintings of the Hudson River area, where he lived from 1839 until his death, are quite rare. Paul Buchanan's painting is an exceptionally fine example of his skill as an inventor with a painterly touch, rather than merely as an interpreter of another artist's designs.
This ambitious landscape is similar to the one in the collection of the New York Historical Society. It records the Philipse House and mill pond (later the Beekman Manor House), the old Sleepy Hollow Dutch Church, the ancestor of Route 9, the Hudson River with full complement of sailing craft, Hook mountain in the distance, and in the foreground a gentleman sketching the scene. In addition to its rich history dating to the 17th century, this landscape Havell recorded also resonates with familiar literary associations.
Shortly after the English seized control of New York from the Dutch in 1664, an ambitious Nederlander, Frederick Philipse, gained influence with early English governors of New York, enabling him to purchase large tracts of land from tribes along the east side of the Hudson. One such purchase, the Pocantico Purchase, included virtually all of present-day Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow.
Philipse had a mill, manor house, and church constructed on the lower reaches of the Pocantico River about 1685. He encouraged tenant farmers to settle on his manor by offering liberal leases. Still, settlement was slow. He reserved for himself the mill on the Pocantico and several hundred acres known as the Upper Mills. A large part of this land was retained as forest and not put to the plow. The Upper Mills and a few small farms covered the area of today's village of Sleepy Hollow.
At the end of the War of Independence the Philipse family fled to England, and many local farmers had an opportunity to buy their tenant farms. Old Dutch ways prevailed in the neighborhood until the end of the eighteenth century. In the late 1790's, the American writer Washington Irving came to visit his friend and relative, James K. Paulding, in Tarrytown. Together the two young men explored the area of Sleepy Hollow, hunting and fishing and talking with local folk. The fruits of Irving's visits were later to be immortalized in the story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." In it the father of American literature drew heavily from Sleepy Hollow's customs and the landscape Havell recorded in paint, some 70 years later.
At the time of Irving's visit, the Beekmans were the owners of the Upper Mills and the veterans of the war worked small farms and raised growing families. Whether the mill continued as actively as in former days is not clear. There were docks down by the Sleepy Hollow waterfront, and at Tarrytown Harbor there was a market boat which plied between Tarrytown and New York. The Old Dutch Church was still the only house of worship in the area of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow.
In the early nineteenth century, neighboring Tarrytown emerged as a burgeoning retail and commercial center. It boasted a bank, a hotel, and shops while the Sleepy Hollow area remained exclusively agrarian. However, by the 1840's the industrial age had touched Sleepy Hollow. The first Croton Aqueduct swept along the hillsides, the railroad put its imprint on the riverside, and a portion of the village (the present day business district) was laid out with streets and village lots. Soon industrial mills cropped up along the Pocantico River. During this period, immigrant workers began to settle in the area, introducing new styles and traditions. Irish, Italian and German followed employment opportunities to "Beekman Town."
Meanwhile the Old Dutch Church in the valley of Sleepy Hollow was eclipsed by new houses of worship that were springing up along Broadway. The newly established Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, with its grand monuments and polished granite, began to overshadow the prosaic stones in the Old Dutch Grave Yard. Commerce and industry began to loom in Sleepy Hollow's future. In keeping with this new trend, the place was incorporated as a village under a new name, North Tarrytown - a name which was derived from its commercially successful neighbor, Tarrytown. Millionaires including Anson Phelps, Ambrose Kingsland and John D. Rockefeller purchased large tracts of the old farm land and built impressive homes. Then, in 1900, an automotive factory was established on the Sleepy Hollow waterfront. This was to become one of the first General Motors plants.
Although the artist's original signed inscription identifying the site of this landscape was covered with the new lining, it was fortunately photographed prior to treatment. A photograph recording that signature and inscription is preserved on the painting's protective cardboard (verso).
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