In this atmospheric and luminous work by E.T. Baker, the busy port of New York hosts a huge number of ships coming and going near the Battery and the famous landmark of Castle Garden under a golden light of the sun hanging low on the horizon.
In the center, a brigantine faces out to sea with a steam pilot tug repositioning her on the port side. The brig's crew is busy with duties on deck including their laundry which hangs to dry off the ship's bow. On the tug, the pilot guides his vessel from within an elaborate domed pilot house with gold eagle figure on top. On the tug's bow, a crewman leans back to look up at the brig's deck, perhaps shouting back and forth with one of the men on the higher ship's deck.
Crossing in front of the brig, a small rowboat with two sailors heading back to their ship passes behind one of the harbor's mooring buoys, their mast and sails stowed inside the hull. Behind, a steam sail brigantine also faces toward the harbor's mouth, just one of many ships with sails aloft navigating the currents.
New York Harbor was an extremely busy port even in Baker's time, as evidenced by the masts of uncountable vessels along the horizon. Behind the masts Baker has included a faint outline of the Manhattan Skyline, extending out past the second Brigantine to include a view of Fort Gibson on Ellis Island and the Jersey shoreline. When this was painted Ellis Island was still a military post; the immigration station for which the island is best known didn't open until 1892.
Baker has included figures all over the work, not just aboard the many ships. Outside Castle Garden, the shoreline sidewalk is host to families and couples strolling along the Battery while people in two small boats float nearby.
Today, Castle Garden is better known as Castle Clinton or Fort Clinton, a fortification and military outpost built in the run up to the War of 1812. Named for New York City Mayor (and later Governor of the state) DeWitt Clinton, the government gave up the site in 1821 and leased it to New York City as a place of public entertainment. In Baker's time it was a major attraction complete with restaurant and beer garden. The site hosted famous singers and orchestras from around the world, was home to plays and opera performances and was the site of important public exhibitions. Later Castle Garden became America's first immigration station, predating Ellis Island.
Baker's scenes of New York harbor are among the most desirable of his works, particularly those with luminous qualities and great detail like this one, with highlights of his best work.
Private American Collection
first name :