British 19th C, except portraits, British 20th C, except portraits, London: Artists and Subjects 9 comments Where is this conflagration, and what is on fire?
Photo credit: Wellcome Collection
From the style of the buildings on the right, this gouache painting looks as though it is of either a very late 19th or early 20th century American incident and waterfront location (and presumably therefore by a US hand). Can anyone suggest where?
Could it be the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.?
William Schupbach (Wellcome Collection) has commented, 'The painting is laid down on what looks to me like 19C or early 20C card. There is gum arabic (or similar) on the watercolour/gouache painting. On the verso of the mount, at the bottom, there is a faint inscription in pencil, in two lines, the lower of which appears to say something like Destruction of Westminster [...] and a price, possibly 3/-. Looks as if someone assumed it was the burning of the Houses of Parliament (being a well-known large building on a river that was to a large extent destroyed by fire). Any other ideas will be gratefully received. Images attached.'
Could it possibly be the Tooley Street fire of 1861?
It certainly looks like a waterfront warehouse fire (and not like other images of the 1834 destruction of old Westminster Palace) but the buildings look very 'un-London-like' including in comparison to Scott's image immediately above. I can barely see the backing-sheet inscription on-screen I'm afraid so we may not get further with that here.
Washington Post 22 June 2014 article by Jonathan H Adler refers to many large USA river fires in American cities among them Cleveland, Detroit. Buffalo
and refers to an article by David and Richard Stradling in Environmental history July 2008, which might help in the case of Cleveland
The Rouge River, Detroit seems a possibllity see The Metro Times article by Michael Jackman 'no city has fire flaming up in its history quite like Detroit' 29 October 2014
That in 1915 resulted in the burning of the Belle Isle Bridge
in 1892 there was a large fire in Philadelphia on the Schuylkill River too
On the right edge- the tower building-- looks a bit like the Bank Of China building on the Bund in Shanghai .
The vessels are in quite similar positions in this work by T. Baynes.