Scene of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (Primary Title)
George Harvey, a British artist who immigrated to the United States in 1820, traveled widely to paint scenic views of the young nation – including this view of Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). The image depicts the region’s renowned natural features, including the massive rock bluffs that loom above the meeting of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Harvey also documents the region’s latest technological advances in transportation and commercial competition. Both the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad had recently established a terminus in the bustling port town. Harvey’s inclusion of the passenger train, which hugs the distant river bank, adds significance to the canvas. It is one of the earliest American landscapes to picture a railroad.
Before returning to England in his later years, Harvey made his home in the Hudson River Valley of New York. In addition to painting atmospheric landscapes, he also pursued an interest in architecture. Harvey assisted Washington Irving in the redesign of Sunnyside, the celebrated writer’s picturesque residence in Tarrytown.
Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, The Virginia Landscape, July-Nov., 2000.
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