Taylor Watercolors of Philadelphia


Project Description and Sources


This project focused on a collection of mid-nineteenth century sketches and watercolors owned by the Winterthur Museum. Very little is known about the artist or his reason for choosing the locations and buildings he painted.

We focused on three particular images and used the archival resources of various Philadelphia institutions in order to learn as much as possible about the buildings Taylor painted. We had hoped that such research might at least partially reveal some of the reasons that he chose the sites he did, but Taylor's motivation remains just as indiscernible. It is most likely, however, that Taylor, painting during the Civil War period when Philadelphia was rapidly becoming increasingly developed and industrialized, chose those sites he felt to be most imminently in danger of demolition -- older, smaller-scale, and often frame structures, those vernacular buildings that would not long survive with the further growth of the city.


The information found in this website was taken from the following sources:

Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, Winterthur, DE

Department of Records, Room 154, City Hall

City Archives, 3101 Market Street

Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street

National Archives, Mid-Atlantic Region, 900 Market Street

Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street