Fire engine condenser case of the Clinton Fire Company No. 41

Object Number: 
1937.1631
Date: 
ca. 1842
Medium: 
Wood, oil paint, gilding
Dimensions: 
Overall: 32 x 30 1/4 x 15 in. ( 81.3 x 76.8 x 38.1 cm )
Description: 
Wooden fire engine condenser case; half-cylindrical form with overhanging top and painted image on front framed by arch over pilasters, with elaborately carved oversize keystone and scrolling leaves in gilding on spandrels; painted image of landscape with female figure in foreground placing wreath on the head of a male portrait bust that stands on a pedestal next to her, with eagle in profile view on ground in front of pedestal.
Gallery Label: 
This condenser case belonged to New York City's Clinton, No. 41 Engine Company, as indicated by the bust of DeWitt Clinton, Governor of New York, and the depiction of Albany (the seat of the state government) in the background. An allegorical figure known as the "Genius of Agriculture" crowns the bust of Clinton with a laurel wreath, while an eagle (another emblem of the American Republic) looks on from the lower left. This case is mentioned in an account of a parade during the Croton Aqueduct celebration of October 14, 1842 where No. 41 was the largest company represented, numbering about 80 members. There, a yellow-painted engine with red and gilt stripes featured a painting on its condenser cover with "a pedestal on which is a bust of DeWitt Clinton, with the Genius of Agriculture crowning him with a wreath of flowers. At the base of the pedestal is an American eagle; on the right, a view of the City of Albany; on the left, a distant view of the Erie Canal" (Sheldon, The Story of the Volunteer Fire Department of the City of New York, 1882, p. 505). DeWitt Clinton, engine no. 41's namesake, was considered to be a father of the Croton Aqueduct and the Croton Reservoir of New York City.
Bibliography: 
Denker, Ellen Paul. "Collector' legacies." The Magazine Antiques 167 (2005): 176-180.
Credit Line: 
Purchased from Elie Nadelman
Provenance: 
The Folk Art Collection of Elie Nadelman
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group