This lithograph shows a morphed view of the gothic Bank of Philadelphia building erected in 1808 to designs by Benjamin Henry Latrobe at the southwest corner of Fourth and Chestnut Streets. The original drawing is by William G. Mason, whose perspective of the bank makes it look almost like a cathedral. The print is by John Jessie Barker (active circa 1815−60) and is the only known example of his work. A gate, lawn, and trees surround the building and a turreted outbuilding is visible on the property. Couples and a lady with a parasol stroll on the sidewalk. The Philadelphia Bank or Bank of Philadelphia (predecessor of the Philadelphia National Bank) formed in 1803 and was incorporated in 1804 as the unofficial bank of the commonwealth. The building was razed in 1836. The title “Horizontorium” refers to the optical game of this kind of picture. The semicircle below the legend marked the place for a paper tab with a pinhole to be pasted, which could be bent at right angles to the picture plane. The view through the pinhole corrected the distortion so that the subject reverted to normal proportions and perspective. Numerous English and French horizontoriums of the 18th century exist, but this is the only known American horizontorium print and one of only two known views of the bank building. The lithograph was published in 1832 by Richard H. Hobson, who in the early 1830s often published engravings in partnership with Childs & Inman.
Lithographer: Barker, John Jesse, born circa 1785, active circa 1815−60
References: John Jesse Barker, Philadelphia on Stone Biographical Dictionary, Library Company of Philadelphia, http://www.lcpdigital.org. | Library Company of Philadelphia, Made in America: Printmaking, 1760−1860: An Exhibition of Original Prints from the Collections of the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, April−June, 1973. | Philadelphia on Stone Biographical Dictionary of Lithographers, http://www.librarycompany.org/pos/posdictionary.htm.
Note: Digital catalog number: POS 360
Place: North America; United States of America; Pennsylvania; Philadelphia
Institution: The Library Company of Philadelphia
Physical description: 1 print : lithograph ; 55 x 42 centimeters