View of Dedham, Mass. In 1876

Author: Whitefield, Edwin
Date: 1876
Location: Dedham (Mass.)

Dimensions: 42.0 x 66.0 cm.
Scale: Not drawn to scale
Call Number: G3764.D4A3 1876 .W45


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Whitefield was well known as an artist of urban views during the middle of the 19th century. He produced 59 lithographic views of cities and towns throughout the northeastern United States and eastern Canada from 1845 to 1878. However, most of these were low-elevation landscape views drawn from appropriate nearby vantage points. Only his last two views were done in the prevailing bird's-eye view style, portraying the community from a higher elevation. These were for two communities Dedham and Quincy in Norfolk County, now part of the southern fringe of the Boston Metropolitan region.

In comparison to bird's eye views produced by other artists, Whitefield's appear stark and spare. There is little sense of boosterism. For example, the Dedham view does not include a legend, nor were there any insets of prominent buildings. None of the buildings appear exaggerated or drawn out of proportion to the other buildings, very few people populate the streets, and the streets were not even labeled.

What is pictured is a quiet country village, which was a fairly accurate portrayal. Dedham, founded in 1635 as one of the colony's first inland towns, became the county seat of Norfolk Count in 1793. Although a center of transportation, it was not noted for heavy industry. Other contemporary maps help determine that this view includes the county court house, the county jail, four churches, and several schools. With the view oriented toward the west, the railroad and the associated depot, engine house, and turn table are positioned in the foreground.

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