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William Guy Wall
Date: 1792 - After 1864
Remarks: Arrived New York City in 1818 and lived there until 1828.
Biography: In the summer of 1820 the Irish-born and trained landscape artist William Guy Wall went on an extended sketching tour of the Hudson River Valley and its environs. A selection of Wall's watercolors recording sights on his tour were engraved by the master printmaker John Hill (1770-1850) in 'The Hudson River Portfolio' (1820-25), published in New York City by Henry J. Megarey (1821-25). Long considered a cornerstone in the development of American printmaking and landscape painting, its twenty topographical views trace 212 miles of the 315-mile course of the Hudson River from Luzerne (today Lake Luzerne) to Governor's Island near Manhattan. This undertaking paved the way for a wider public appreciation of landscape in the United States. The first series of prints to make Americans aware of the beauty and sublimity of their own scenery, the seminal 'Portfolio' was so popular that it was reprinted in 1828 by G. & C. & H. Carvill. No wonder that Wall is often seen as a forerunner of the first group of American indigenous landscape painters known as the Hudson River School. 'The Hudson River Portfolio' follows in the footsteps of the well-established English taste for picturesque touring itineraries with both images and text. Turning its pages gave the viewer the sensation of traveling the Hudson even though most of Wall's views were drawn from the land rather than from on the water. The evidence of the completed 'Portfolio' suggests that Wall spent much of his time on the upper reaches of the river. Despite the developing vogue for wild scenery - and although the upper Hudson was only sparsely settled - Wall's watercolors almost always emphasize ways in which settlers manipulated the environment. Even when he drew potentially sublime waterfalls, he almost always showed their power harnessed by human ingenuity. Importantly the influential 'Portfolio' helped to stimulate national pride and cultural identity.