Pennsylvania Scenery

For a larger view and a map featuring the scene’s location, click on the image above.

John Hill
American, b. England, 1770–1850
After Joshua Shaw 
American, b. England, c. 1777–1860
View Near the Falls of Schuylkill
Aquatint and etching with hand coloring, first state of two, 13 1/8 x 10 inches
From Picturesque Views of American Scenery
Published in 1820 by M. Carey & Son, Philadelphia
Partial gift and purchase from John C. O’Connor and Ralph M. Yeager

In 1819, not long after moving to Philadelphia from his native England, Joshua Shaw set off on a tour of the eastern United States to develop watercolor sketches for a collection of landscapes he titled Picturesque Views of American Scenery. Shaw engaged fellow Englishman John Hill, also recently arrived in Philadelphia, to engrave his studies in aquatint. The prints were then decorated by a stable of colorists—one of whom was the young Thomas Doughty, later a key figure in American landscape painting—and, beginning in 1820, distributed to subscribers by Philadelphia publisher Matthew Carey.
Shaw planned a total of thirty-six prints; however, only twenty were published, including three views of the rustic countryside just outside of Philadelphia. Each image is accompanied by text, which for View Near the Falls of Schuylkill reads in part: "The present view is taken from an opening or lane which leads from the main road to Germantown above the Falls; it looks over the river, which is hid in the valley, and the eye is chiefly directed to the pleasing effect produced by the light on the opposite hills." The Falls, incidentally, had disappeared by 1822, subsumed by the waters rising behind the newly constructed Fairmont Dam.