Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998
From: "John W. Docktor" <jdocktor@cyberia.com>
Subject: View of New York

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New Amsterdam view

Joep de Koning asks about a "stand-alone" engraving of Nieuw Amsterdam (see illustration) which is the widely known view on Nieuw Amsterdam of around 1653 and has only been found (and known) as an inset (flanked by indians) on the U.S. East coast maps of Visscher/Allardt/Danckers as well as on the 1675 map by John Seller called "A Mapp of New Jarsey"). He writes that "the origin of my similar size, 'stand-alone', not -flanked by indians, extremely high-quality, very sharp engraving has been a mystery," and he asks for additional information. The engraving can be seen at http://kartoserver.geo.uu.nl/HTML/STAFF/krogt/maphist/illustr.htm

I have received advance information about an exhibit to be held at the Museum of the City of New York this autumn, and I paraphrase from their research notes: De Stadt Nieuw Amsterdam gelegen op het Eylandt Manhattans in Nieuw Nederlandt is a water color drawing (31.5 x 53 cm) illustrating New Amsterdam in the mid-seventeenth century, and is believed to be the oldest surviving visual representation of what became New York City. The drawing, from the collection of the Austrian National Library in Vienna, will be on exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York from September 26 to November 29, 1998.

In 1992, while preparing for an exhibition at the Globe Museum of the Austrian National Library, experts from the Library's map collection uncovered a drawing, the significance of which soon became apparent. The pen and ink, hand colored sketch on paper shows New Amsterdam as it appeared 25 years after its founding. This drawing is believed to have been the source for later drawn and engraved views of New Amsterdam.

The condition of the windmill, with only two arms (there are four arms on Koning's engraving), corresponds to a written description of the grist mill dated 1649. The pier extending into the East River is most likely the wharf constructed by Governor Stuyvesant in 1648-1649. In 1653, the City Tavern was converted to City Hall. Based on this internal evidence, the drawing can be dated circa 1650-1653 and is, therefore, believed to be the same one that Peter Stuyvesant sent to Amsterdam in 1660 and which the Governor attributed to Augustine Herrman, a cartographer and one of New Amsterdam's leading residents at the time. Herrman lived in New Amsterdam from 1643 to 1663.

The conclusion that the water color drawing in the collections of the Austrian National Library is the source of these later drawing and engravings is also supported by the fact that the legend in the engraved insert found in the Visscher map identifies ten sites corresponding precisely to the ten sites, albeit in different sequencing, named on the drawing.

The drawing was purchased in the late 18th or early 19th century by Duke Albert von Sachesen-Teschen (1742-1822), son-in-law of the Empress Maria Teresia, for his art collection. When Albert died, the drawing passed on to his adopted son Archduke Charles, a member of the Habsburg family by birth. Following World War I, the drawing came under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Austria. It was transferred to the Austrian National Library between 1920 and 1935.


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