James Hamilton, View of Philadelphia

James Hamilton: View of Philadelphia (Undated) Oil on canvas
Title
View of Philadelphia
Date
Undated
Medium
Oil on canvas
Credit Line
Musuem purchase, 2012
Dimensions
40" x 60"

View of Philadelphia is a dynamic depiction of the harbor and the US Navy Yard at Wharton Street in the Southwark section of the city. In 1801 this area was chosen for the first government-owned shipyard in the United States. It served this function until 1864, at which time, due to the Navy’s expanding needs, a new site was proposed and construction began on what is now the Philadelphia Navy Yard in South Philadelphia. Steamboats, recreational vessels, and military ships share the harbor. The long diagonal lines found in the sweep of the bobbing ships’ sails, the crashing waves, and the seething clouds add energy to the painting. As rays of sunlight penetrate the image, Hamilton deftly captures the drama of light passing through the clouds in a stormy sky.

 

Hamilton captures the bustling, commercial port of Philadelphia around the year 1850. Many of the historic buildings he depicts can be identified. Towards the left side of the painting are Philadelphia’s famous “twin ship houses,” which were built in 1821 and demolished in the late 19th century. At the right, the white spire of Christ Church is visible. Constructed in 1744, the nearly 200-foot-spire was the tallest structure in the United States during most of Hamilton’s lifetime, and it was a primary landmark for those sailing along the Delaware River.

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  • wonderful work , provocative the waves with a warm soft movement with highlighted caps. The ship in the foreground makes you feel the history and life in the 1800's. It's crowed with boats in the background makes me think about how Philadelphia is today and how in the 1800s it was a port of intrest.

    Liz