William James Bennett (1787-1844)

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New York from Brooklyn Heights 1830

New York from Brooklyn Heights 1830

William James Bennett was an early American painter and engraver, born in England. He received his artistic training at the Royal Academy and studied painting, sculpture and engraving. As a young man, he began to exhibit watercolors in London and continued to do so until he left for the United States in 1826.

Weehawken from Turtle Grove
Weehawken from Turtle Grove

Quarantine, Staten Island

Quarantine, Staten Island

Bennett’s reputation as a watercolor painter followed him to the United States and earned him a spot as a member of the National Academy of Design. Bennett eventually became a teacher and lived on the campus and exhibited his work there often. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls from the Table Rock

Niagara Falls from the Table Rock

Some art historians also consider Bennett to be the master of aquatint in his time. He created a number of aquatints based on his own paintings, and became famous for cityscapes and street scenes of New York. Bennett was not limited to painting scenes of just New York, and created watercolors of other New England and southern cities as well.

City of Washington from Beyond the Navy Yard

City of Washington from Beyond the Navy Yard

City of Charleston

City of Charleston

New Orleans

New Orleans

Baltimore

Baltimore

Boston from the Ship House, West End of the Navy Yard

Boston from the Ship House, West End of the Navy Yard

Bennett also created a number of illustrations and engravings for books as well as the New York City magazine “The Mirror.” His first commission while living in New York was to create watercolors, and then aquatints of Manhattan city scenes. These were later published in “Megarey’s Street Views in the City of New-York.”

View of South Street, from Maiden Lane, New York City 1827

View of South Street, from Maiden Lane, New York City 1827

Because Bennett was an established artist in both England and the United States, his watercolors could be found today literally anywhere. Still wondering about a 19th century print of a New England city scene hanging in your home? Contact us…it could be by William James Bennett.