If you have an extra $8,000 to $12,000 to spend* you should bid on a magnificent painting of the Croton area by Robert Havell, Jr. being auctioned at Sotheby’s tomorrow. The painting has been owned by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts since 1935 and is being sold to fund future acquisitions.
When we first saw View of the Hudson from Horton’s Road Near Croton we immediately recognized the Croton River, emptying into the Hudson in the lower section of the painting. In the distance at the end of the road on the right you can see Croton Point, and the flat marshland that existed before it became a county dump. Between the trees along the left side of the road you can even see Van Cortlandt Manor.
After a little research we’re pretty sure we know where Havell was standing when he created the painting and approximately when the undated work was executed.
One of the earliest maps of the area identifying landowners is the 1851 Map of West Chester County, New York, by the surveyors Sydney & Neff. In the area of New Castle, where it comes to a point on the Croton River near Deer Island, there is a J. C. Horton, living along today’s Quaker Ridge Road—which we assume was the “Horton’s Road” in the title. The arrow in the map below indicates Havell’s approximate point-of-view when he created the painting.
The map also provides a way of dating the work, because the painting is missing a major feature shown on the map—the Hudson River Railroad Bridge across the mouth of the Croton River. Although it’s possible that Havell omitted the bridge for aesthetic reasons we think that’s unlikely. If we’re correct then the painting was executed prior to 1849, when the first section of the railroad was completed between New York City and Peekskill.
If you buy the painting let us know!
Many thanks to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts library for providing information about this painting.
For other posts about Havell click here.
* UPDATE: The painting sold for $15,000, including the buyer’s premium.