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"Welfare Island" by Cornelius W. Van Ness, Amer., (1894-1952)
Etching, ca. 1939, Ed. unknown, but likely small, 7 x 10-15/16, very faint tape residue to top corners and margin edges recto, one tiny spot of foxing in right margin, signed, titled, and dedicated "To Dorothy and Frank from Cornelius" in pencil, on cream wove watermarked CRM FABRIANO-ITALY paper. This impression was exhbitied at the landmark 1939 New York World's Fair, and the original label from the exhibition accompanies this print. Cornelius W. Van Ness, moved from Minnesota, where he was a bookseller, to New York City early in the the last century. He studied printmaking and painting, and in 1939 exhibted at the Society of Independent Artists. While his prints are not commonly encountered, this one demonstrates a refined eye and skill in rendering the picturesque urban industrial scene in all it's gritty detail. Welfare Island was the name from 1921-73 of a narrow 2 mile long island located in the East River, between Manhattan and Queens on Long Island. During this time it was dominated by various hospitals, industrial, and residential buildings. In 1973 it was renamed Roosevelt Island after FDR. As an accurate visual record of the island's late 1930's quirky mixed use apprearance, with two large storage tanks, multiple smoke stacks, mixed in with residential buildings, and a New York Harbor tugboat for good measure, his print has forensic architectural historic value, enhanced by it's scarcity and presentation with original label from the famous 1939 New York World's Fair.