William Guy Wall (1792 - after 1864 )

William Guy Wall was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1792. After becoming an accomplished artist in Ireland early in his career, Wall immigrated to the United States in 1818 and settled in New York City, where he lived until 1828. Following his ten-year stay in New York, Wall moved to various places in the northeastern United States, including Newport, Rhode Island (1828-1834), and Brooklyn, New York (1834-1836).(1) Wall became well-known for his sensitive watercolor landscapes of the Hudson River Valley and was renowned for being “skillful with atmospheric perspective in his landscapes.”(2) Wall used both oils and watercolors in his career, painting topographical pieces that were true to the scenery depicted rather than inventive in composition.

During his time in New York City, Wall worked with John Hill and his son, John William Hill, to develop the popular “Hudson River Portfolio,” which contained twenty engravings of his paintings.(2) According to one source, the “Hudson River Portfolio” was one of the first books to “make Americans aware of the beauty and sublimity of their own scenery.”(3)

Wall is often considered to be a forerunner or early member of the Hudson River School. Similarly, Wall was a founder-member of the National Academy of Design in New York and exhibited frequently at such institutions as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and the Apollo Association in New York.(2)

Late in his career, Wall returned to Dublin and became associated with silhouettist Master Hubard, for whom he pained pictorial backgrounds.(1) Aside from his association with Hubard, little is known of the years following his return to Ireland. Wall’s son, William Archibald Wall (1820-1875), was also a landscape painter.

(Dave Sholler, Spring 2006)

(1) The Hudson River School, “William Guy Wall” by the (Exhibition catalog, R.W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport, Louisiana, 1973), p.12.

(2) web site (see link below).


New York From Weehawk

New York From Weehawk, 1828, aquatint and engraving with hand-colouring by John Hill, sheet size 19 5/8 x 26 3/8 inches. Photograph courtesy Donald Heald Rare Books, Prints and Maps, New York City (see link below).

The landscape above depicts New York City as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey. The original was painted by William Guy Wall. Wall worked with the engraver John Hill to refine his original landscape painting into an engraving for the “Hudson River Portfolio.” The caption on the print reads, “To Thomas Dixon Esqr. This Plate Respectfully Inscribed by his Obliged Servt. Willm G. Wall.”

Wall published this print with a companion, “New York from Heights near Brooklyn,” to give matching views of New York. One engraving presents the city as seen from New Jersey to the west, across the Hudson River; the other depicts the city as it looked from Brooklyn to the east, across the East River.

According to one source, the print “New York from Weehawken” provides “the most accurate description that we have seen” of New York’s city, harbors, and islands. The piece also has something of a historical context, since Weehawken was the site of the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr in 1804.(1)


(1) George Glazer web site (see link below).

Additional reference:

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