Jacques Gerard Milbert. "Machine à Vapeur sur la Rivière Schuylkill/Walet [sic] works on the Schuylkill River" From Amérique Septentrionale.
Paris: H. Gaugain, 1828-29. 7 7/8 x 11 5/8. Lithograph by Armout on India paper, mounted on backing sheet, as originally issued. Original hand color. Minor spotting and toning in margins. Chip in top margin away from image. Else, good condition. Deák: 299. A/A
Many Europeans visited the United States in the early decades of the nineteenth century. One of the most prominent was Jacques-Gerard Milbert, who came to the United States on a scientific fact finding mission in 1815, staying until 1822. Interested in the topography of the United States, as well as its natural and social history, Milbert made drawings of most of the places he visited. This resulted, upon his return to Paris, in the publication of the Itineraire Pittoresque, comprising 53 prints of the United States. These views form one of the most comprehensive and accurate depictions of the northeast in the period. They are also important early examples of the use of the relatively new medium of lithography for topographical prints; this is one of the first lithographic views made of Philadelphia.
The development of the Fairmount Waterworks was one of the most famous American achievements, and so it is not surprising that the only view of Philadelphia included by Milbert was of this site. The image shows the waterworks at the transitional stage when it had just been converted from steam to water power. The dam, mill house, and water race are interestingly rendered using a perspective from the edge of the reservoir at the top of Fairmount Hill. One of the two steam engines, soon to be retired from service, is shown sending smoke out the chimney. The bucolic setting of the works is evident, with cows grazing just beyond the race, and only a few buildings seen in the distance.
Other prints from Milbert's Itinéraire Pittoresque and other works
From Amérique Septentrionale: