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Charles Bird Lawrence : Dovedale Bungalow on the Delaware River, New Jersey
Charles Bird Lawrence (Dovedale Bungalow on the Delaware River, New Jersey)

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Artist: Charles Bird Lawrence
Title: Dovedale Bungalow on the Delaware River, New Jersey
Media: Oil on canvas, 20 × 30 inches
Description: The Schwarz Gallery also owned a smaller, nearly identical topographical view (see Schwarz, New Jersey Remembered, Philadelphia Collection 75, plate 4) which was acquired separately. Both were unattributed.

This painting was originally identified as Dovedale Bungalow on the Delaware River, Shrewsbury, New Jersey—mistakenly, because the Shrewsbury River, not the Delaware, runs through Shrewsbury. The inscription on the label attached to the smaller painting also identified the subject as “Dovedale Bungaloo” on the Delaware, adding that the estate was owned by Andrew Quinton.1 Such a person was documented in the U.S. Census of 1840 as owning property in Bristol Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and in the U.S. Census of 1850 as owning property in Nottingham Township in Mercer County, New Jersey. Nottingham Township was originally in Burlington County until the creation of Mercer County in 1838. Nottingham later divided into Trenton City, Hamilton Township, and Bordentown, which were all located along the Delaware River. The topographical details of the landscape, the inscription, and the documentary sources all suggest that the property represented in these two paintings was located on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River.

This version (the larger of the two) is noticeably more spontaneous and executed in a freer technique than the smaller one, so it is logical to assume that the larger is the original composition and the smaller a copy. The figures in the boats are more animated, the name “Mattie” appears on the back of the boat at the lower left, the shrubbery along the shore is more detailed, and the sky is represented in a more convincing, atmospheric manner. This painting is very similar to topographical Delaware River views by Charles Bird Lawrence (1790–1864) such as The Delaware River near Bordentown (c. 1818, formerly Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia), and View from Bordentown Hill on the Delaware (Point Breeze) (1820–30, New Jersey Historical Society, Newark).2 These paintings are both views of Point Breeze, an estate that had recently been acquired by Joseph Bonaparte, the exiled brother of Napoleon Bonaparte and former king of Spain and Naples. Lawrence was born in Bordentown and is thought to have studied with Rembrandt Peale (1778–1860) and Gilbert Stuart (1755–1828). He was mainly active in Philadelphia and exhibited often at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1811 to 1832; his address in the 1813 and 1821 exhibition catalogues is listed as Bordentown. Early in his career he painted topographical landscapes that reflected the influence of Thomas Birch (1779–1851), and around 1815 he became active as a portraitist. He ceased to paint and was employed as a clerk in the bank of Pennsylvania Township from 1840 to 1842, and as a plumber from 1844 to 1856.

The word bungalow (spelled “bungalo” in the inscription) is a British corruption of the Bengali word used to designate a low, usually single-story domestic dwelling surrounded by galleries or porches. According to an architectural historian, the earliest American house called a bungalow was designed by William Gibbons Preston and published as such in American Architecture and Building News in 1880.3 The bungalow only became a popular form of American domestic architecture in the last two decades of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth century. Setting aside the problematic origin of the inscription, the building represented in these paintings conforms to the general definition of a bungalow, and as such they are significant as early American representations of that architectural style.

Notes

1. The smaller version was listed in The Old Print Shop Portfolio, vol. 22 (May 1963), no. 37, as “Dovedale Farm, Quentin Avon by the Sea.”

2. The latter is illustrated in color in Margaret M. Hofer and Roberta J. M. Olsen, “Napoleon’s Fauteuil: From Paris to Point Breeze,” Antiques, vol. 162 (October 2002), pl. 8, p. 146. Other strong points of comparison are Lawrence’s View of Bristol Taken from Green Bank; Steamboat “Burlington” Built in 1827 and View of Green Bank, Burlington; Steamboat “Trenton” Built in 1805 (both c. 1830, New Jersey Historical Society, Newark).

3. Clay Lancaster, “The American Bungalow,” Art Bulletin, vol. 40 (September 1958), p. 239.


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Price: This item is no longer available for sale
Inventory: RS 857
  
Category: •a:American•landscape•New Jersey•nineteenth century•river•
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