East Side Market Street from Maiden Lane South, Albany, 1805
James Eights (1798-1882)
Watercolor on paper
12 H x 19 3/8 W
Bequest of Ledyard Cogswell, Jr.
James Eights's watercolors take viewers on a romantic journey through a city of Albany filled with quaint Dutch characters, customs, and buildings. Since the 1850s, they have been used by artists, publishers, and popular historians to reinforce a romantic view of Albany's past. The artist who made this painting was a product of the Enlightenment and believed the human condition could be improved by observing the natural world carefully and sharing that knowledge with others. These paintings were part of a larger effort by Eights to capture the substance of old Albany by recording and representing a colorful assortment of the language, costume, and traditions that had been part of the city's colonial culture. The image shown here was created from a combination of memory, research, and observation, and provides insights into the character of Albany as it expanded into a commercial the transportation center. It shows a main thoroughfare, North Pearl Street, where a black woman and child stand in the foreground as reminders of the vital part African Americans played in Albany's economy and society.