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William Coventry Wall (American, 1810 – 1886) Hudson River

Oil on canvas, 26 x 36 inches/Signed lower left

Wall was born in Oxford, England; however, in 1821 he immigrated to the United States with his family. They settled in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, a small town located southeast of Pittsburgh, PA. Little is known of Wall’s early life, other than he was married in the 1830’s and resided in Louisville, Kentucky, where Wall manufactured looking glasses. In 1841 the family moved to Pittsburgh, where he opened a store, “Plain and Fancy Picture and Portrait Frames”, where he sold frames and artist’s supplies. According to William Gerdts (1990), in 1843 Wall began working at J.J. Gillespie and Company where he also sold artist’s supplies and later made picture frames. A horrific fire in 1845 destroyed approximately one third of the city and Wall’s shop, but spared his home and family. Wall managed to salvage some of his art supplies and documented the great conflagration through a series of paintings, which he sent to Philadelphia to have them made into lithographs. The lithographs were published and established Wall as an artist. His reputation was set and he is credited with establishing the Pittsburgh landscape tradition. He accompanied George Hetzel noted Pittsburgh artist, and founder of the Scalp Level School to picturesque Scalp Level (Cambria County, PA).

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