Greenpoint, October, 2015

Monday, March 2, 2015

Brooklyn is the Old Manhattan

Had the chance to visit the Yale University Art Gallery's Whistler in Paris, London, and Venice exhibit over the weekend. Beautiful small-format etchings of the Thames and Venice. He liked water. But the gems for me were three pieces by Joseph Pennell, one of the artists influenced by Whistler, including New York from the Williamsburg Bridge.
I looked at the etching for many minutes. Something seemed off. If I'm standing on the Williamsburg Bridge looking south towards the harbor Brooklyn is on my left and Manhattan on the right. Which side looks like Manhattan 1915 to you? (Hint: The Woolworth Building was completed in 1913, the Williamsburg Savings Bank Building in 1929.)


  1. Not such a mystery! Etchings (the prints) are the reverse of what is drawn on the plates. So if he were standing on the Wiiliamsburg Bridge (or the Willy-B, as some might call it), and drew what he saw on his etching plate, it would naturally come out as a reverse image. Thus, Brooklyn to the right and Manhattan to the left, or whatever which way!

    1. I guess that's why etchings were such poor guides for navigation.