William Russell Birch. "The Water Works, in Centre Square Philadelphia". Drawn, Engraved & Published by W. Birch & Son Neshaminy Ferry.
From The City of Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania North America. Philadelphia, 1798-1800. Ca. 11 x 13 3/8. First Edition. Engraving. Laid paper. Margins trimmed to plate mark. Bottom right corner of margin expertly filled. Two very small losses of image in trees right hand side. Partial hand color. Good condition.
When issued in 1800, William Birch's prints of Philadelphia collectively formed the first series of views of any American city, and as such they are of great historical importance. The superior quality of the work is evidenced in the scope of its conception, the artistic excellence of the prints and their fine execution. The prints provide a unique visual record of Philadelphia at a time when it was the most important and cosmopolitan city in the Western Hemisphere, and for a time was the capital of the newly formed United States. Each print illustrates a scene, focusing on the sophistication of the inhabitants and the stateliness of the homes and public buildings.
The project of producing this series was carried out entirely in Philadelphia, and while many other individuals were involved, including Birch's son Thomas who provided many of the original drawings, the prints were the work of William Birch himself. He not only conceived and planned the project, but he also drew many of the scenes and did much of the engraving and publishing.
Other prints by William Birch: