Cornelius W. Van Ness, Amer., (1894-1952) Welfare Island, Etching, ca. 1939, Ed. unknown, but likely small, 7 x 10-15/16, old tape residue to top corners recto, scattered discreet foxing to sheet, signed, titled, and dedicated "To Dorothy and Frank from Cornelius" in pencil, on cream wove watermarked CRM FABRIANO-ITALY paper. Though not included in the fair's exhibition book, this impression was exhibited at the landmark 1939 New York World's Fair, and the original 1939 label from the exhibit 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. His prints are not commonly encountered, yet this print shows both 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 1930's mixed use appearance with two large storage tanks, multiple smoke stacks, amidst residential buildings, this print has historic value, certainly enhanced by it's scarcity and original label from exhibition at the 1939 New York World's Fair.
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