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Rochester Artists

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View of the Pitkin House and East Avenue

1859
20 3/8 x 30 1/4 in. (51.8 x 76.8 cm)

Charles Willson, Jr.
American (1826 - 1901, Fordham, NY)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of Maurice R. Forman
Accession Number: 1973.13
Location: Currently on view
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The 1839 Pitkin House, just a few blocks away from MAG at 474 East Avenue, was one of the first mansions built in the area. The rutted dirt of the street contrasts with the elegant brick edifice of the house, but wooden braces along the road supporting newly-planted trees reveal that East Avenue was being gentrified. William Pitkin, who selected the lot and had the house built, was at first a druggist, but went on to become a banker, an alderman, a University of Rochester trustee, and the mayor of Rochester in 1844-45. Later, another well-known Rochester entrepreneur, Daniel Powers, lived in the house. He opened the first public art gallery in the city in his grand Powers Building at the Four Corners.

This painting was made by Rochester artist Charles Willson during Powers’ tenure in the house. At a time when paintings of houses were used to demonstrate the wealth and good taste of the homeowners, Willson was clever enough to depict the house from an angle that shows the deep lot and additions at the back, something that would not have been seen if he’d painted the house from the front.

[Gallery label text, 2021]

Marks
Artist's signature, lower left: Chas Willson Jnr/1859


Provenance
Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York; purchased from them by Maurice R. Forman, Rochester, NY, for the Gallery in 1973

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