DeWitt Clinton Boutelle (1817 - 1884 )

DeWitt Clinton Boutelle was born on April 6, 1820 in Troy, New York. He was a self-educated artist but began painting “under the influence of Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand at an early age.”(1) Both men who influenced him were well known Hudson River School members. Boutelle created a mix of portrait and landscape paintings during his career. Also, he did not remain long in one area. Instead, he moved around between New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The year that Boutelle started working is unknown but records show that he was painting in New York City by 1846.

In 1848 Boutelle moved to Basking Ridge, New Jersey. In 1851, he moved back to New York City and in that same year, he was elected an Associate Member of the National Academy of Design. However, New York City was not working out for Boutelle so in 1855 he moved once again, this time to Philadelphia.(2) From the time Boutelle began painting to about 1857, “he painted almost entirely in the Hudson River Valley, Catskills, New Jersey, and along the Susquehanna.”(3) He did paint some subjects outside of this region, like Niagara Falls, but for the most part, he seldom left it.

In 1858, Boutelle moved one final time to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and settled there for good. He also became a member of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1862.(4) Boutelle exhibited his work in numerous places at different times throughout his career. He exhibited work at the National Academy of Design during the years of 1846-74. Between 1854 and 1869, his work could be seen at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Boutelle’s work was also displayed in the Boston Athenaeum (1854-61), the Washington Art Association (1857-59), and the American Art-Union (1845-52).(5) “His paintings can be found today in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, the High Museum of Art, and the Newark Museum, among other institutions.”(6)

On November 5, 1884, DeWitt Clinton Boutelle died after a nomadic life and career. His son Edward C. Boutelle followed his father and became an artist himself.(7)

(Kirsten Pelton, Spring 2006)

Sherman Falls, New York

Sherman Falls, New York, 1861, oil on canvas, 27 x 21 7/8 inches. Photograph courtesy (see link below).

The above example of work done by DeWitt Clinton Boutelle is entitled “Sherman Falls, New York.” He painted it in 1861, using oil on canvas. This painting is in the Hudson River style that so heavily influenced Boutelle. The title of this painting is problematic since Sherman Falls is one of the individual drops in the larger Trenton Falls Gorge in Oneida County, New York.(8)

Sherman Falls was named after the first owner of the property, John Sherman, who bought the land in 1822. The fall stands nearly 33 feet tall and it is the first of the falls on the West Canada Creek. The water coming over Sherman Falls tends to shoot out a good distance horizontally before it drops almost vertically.(9)

John Sherman, for whom the waterfall is named, came from an adventurous family. “His grandfather signed the Declaration of Independence and helped frame the Constitution,”(10) while his father fought in the Revolutionary War. Sherman became a pastor of the First Congregational Church in Mansfield, Connecticut in 1797. However, in 1806 he gave that up to become a pastor for Olden Barneveldt (the area by the Trenton Gorge), taking a huge salary cut in the process. He gave up being a pastor in 1810 when he established an academy east of Olden Barneveldt and began teaching, bringing in a better salary. In 1822, he bought sixty acres of land from the Holland Land Company, including Sherman Falls, which he had come to love.

With the help of a former Mayor of New York City, Sherman made Trenton Gorge a tourist attraction, which brought hundreds of people to the area.(11) The Gorge also became a summer retreat for well-known and influential politicians, writers, and artists, including William H. Seward. Although the Trenton Falls Resort no longer exists, there is a plaque on site to commemorate it.(12)

(Kirsten Pelton)

(1) John Driscoll, All that is Glorious Around Us: Paintings from the Hudson River School, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997).

(2) George C. Groce and David H. Wallace, The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America: 1564-1860 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957).

(3) Biography for DeWitt Boutelle (AskArt: 2000-2006),

(4) Driscoll, All that is Glorious Around Us.

(5) Groce and Wallace, The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America.

(6) DeWitt Clinton Boutelle: Artist’s Bio (American Paintings, Questroyal Fine Art, LLC),

(7) Groce and Wallace, The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America.

(8) Waterfalls of the Northeastern United States: Trenton Falls, Dean Goss: 2005,

(9) Geomorphology of Trenton Falls: Sherman Falls, President and Fellows of Harvard College: 2004,

(10) Paul Keesler, Kuyahoora - Discovering West Canada Valley, chapter 13: John Sherman-Father of the Trenton Falls Resort,

(11) Geomorphology of Trenton Falls: Sherman Falls, President and Fellows of Harvard College: 2004,

(12) Geomorphology of Trenton Falls: Sherman Falls, President and Fellows of Harvard College: 2004,

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