Collections › MESDA Collection › Baltimore in 1752

Baltimore in 1752

Artist/Maker:
Strickland, William __Engraver ||Tanner, Henry S. __Engraver ||Moale, John __After ||Bowley, Daniel __After
Place Made:
Philadelphia Pennsylvania United States of America
Date Made:
1817
Medium:
ink and watercolor on paper
Dimensions:
HOA 19 1/2; WOA 29 (sight)
Accession Number:
2024.154
Description:
In 1817 the Baltimore American newspaper advertised an “Ancient View of Baltimore” for sale. The view was loosely based on a drawing by John Moale and corrected by Daniel Bowlet. Moale’s drawing is in the collection of the Maryland Historical Society (1845.1.1).

Moale’s sketch was a primitive rendering that depicted only the existing structures set upon a bare landscape with the suggestion of the river depicted horizontally in the foreground. It bears very little resemblance to the subsequent views that credit Moale for providing the inspiration. In the considerably romanticized printed versions, the designer has attempted to convey a sense of imposed order to the environment by re-arranging the houses, formerly haphazardly dispersed along the shoreline. Numerous roads and fences, absent in the Moale sketch, connect the various tracts of land, and imply effective management of the landscape. The most remarkable aspect of the altered terrain is the manner in which the artist re-adjusted the shoreline of the river so that its banks achieve a perfect rectangular shape. Indicative of the significance of Maryland’s waterways, the river forms the central focus of the image. Along the shoreline are precise, neatly planted rows of tobacco that reflect of the importance of the crop to the economy. The ship on the river and the dock along the banks forecast Baltimore’s future as the most dominant city in the Chesapeake.

Stickland’s view of Baltimore in 1752 provided a sharp contrast to J. L. Boqueta de Woiseri’s view of Baltimore published about 1810. Baltimore was founded in 1729, but grew very slowly. Following the American Revolution, however, Baltimore became the dominant port in the northern Chesapeake and an important gateway to the trans-Appalachian west.

The engraver, William Strickland, inserted two later landmarks into this mid-18th century view: the “Battle Monument” memorializing the citizens slain in the 1814 battle of Baltimore, and the road to Philadelphia. Stickland is best known today as a Philadelphia architect, but he was also an engraver.

DESCRIPTION: Aquatint on paper, cityscape with several scattered buildings, harbor with three boats, farms, hills, and clouds.

Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton