The Wainwright Paintings Inventory of Philadelphia-Area Scenes

In the mid-1960s Nicholas B. Wainwright (1914-86), long-time director of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (1965-74), president of the Library Company of Philadelphia (1951-66), and prolific local historian, began an inventory of oil paintings depicting Philadelphia-area scenes. This would parallel his invaluable Philadelphia in the Romantic Age of Lithography (1958) and his more focussed Paintings and Miniatures at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (1942, rev. 1974). One working title for this manuscript compilation was given as "Portrait of Philadelphia and its Vicinity; Scenes in Town and Country before 1900 as depicted in Oil Paintings" (1965-68). Another was "Landscape and Genre Paintings of Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia" (1976).

Working with research assistants, Wainwright collected data and in most cases 8 x 10-inch black-and-white photographs of paintings dating from before 1900. His identification of over two hundred works profited from his long, attentive experience with key public collections in the area, with exhibitions and catalogues over several decades, and his unparalleled awareness of private collections in the area.

We present here his inventory more or less in the state it reached in the 1980s, which took the form of sleeved photographs, typed discussion, manuscript notes, correspondence, and some data sheets in a set of nine green loose-leaf binders held at the Historical Society. We will eventually attempt to expand this list and integrate it with other catalogues and inventories, illustrating these with scanned images where that is feasible, but here we present Wainwright's compilation with only a modest attempt to gather more information on the individual images or correlate these with other lists. We have withheld names of most private owners Wainwright had identified, many of whom will have changed over the last quarter century.

Wainwright divided his compilation into nine topical categories in eight binders, which he intended to present in the order given below: (Each is linked here to jump to that part of his list). A ninth green binder is the112-page typescript of Wainwright's 1974 book, Collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1824-1974, but a tenth is more pertinent to this project, and alludes to the existence of an eleventh binder, now unlocated. This ninth binder includes over 150 data sheets on individual paintings, nearly half of them paintings not already included in the eight topical binders. This surviving volume includes artists' names from I to W, leading to hopes that we may one day locate another with the sheets for artists' names from A to I.

Landscape and Genre Paintings of Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia:
A Compilation by Nicholas B. Wainwright, 1965- .

A. Paintings represented by sleeved glossies, categorized:

[The Historic Image]
[City Sights]
[Delaware River]
[The Waterworks] and [Schuylkill River] (in one binder)
[Wissahickon and Germantown]
[Sporting Scenes]
[Country Houses / Rural Views]
[Genre Subjects]

B. Paintings represented only by data sheets, uncategorized (artists I to W, no glossies).


[tvl] = topographic informational value limited; views that were made well after the fact, are imaginary, generic, or show relatively little topographical information.
(3C) = Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art, Philadelphia, 1976 .
(Oedel) = William T. Oedel, Philadelphia Portrait, 1682-1982: Catalogue of an Exhibition Celebrating the Three Hundredth Anniversary of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, 1982.
(PGT) = George B. Tatum, Penn's Great Town, Philadelphia, 1961.
(Snyder) = Martin P. Snyder, City of Independence: Views of Philadelphia Before 1800, NY, 1975.
(Wainwright) = Nicholas B. Wainwright, Paintings and Miniatures at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, rev. ed., Philadelphia, 1974.

All paintings are oil on canvas unless otherwise noted.

A. Paintings represented by sleeved glossies, categorized:

The Historic Image: Eighteenth-Century and Historical Paintings


City Sights Volume

Delaware River Volume


Schuylkill River Volume

-- The Waterworks

-- Schuylkill River Scenes


Wissahickon / Germantown Volume

Sporting Scenes

Country Houses / Rural Views Volume

Genre Volume


B. Paintings represented only by data sheets, uncategorized (artists I to W, no glossies):

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