American Paintings and Sculpture
Artist: Johann Herman Carmiencke, German, 1810–1867

Poughkeepsie Iron Works (Bech’s Furnace)

1856

Oil on canvas

29 × 36 1/4 × 1 in. (73.7 × 92.1 × 2.5 cm)
Bequest of Evelyn A. Cummins
1971.111.5

Johann Hermann Carmiencke’s painting of the Poughkeepsie Iron Works, or Bech’s Furnace, presents a benevolent interpretation of the impact of industry on the American landscape. Nestled between the Hudson River and a hill with grazing goats and kerchief-wearing country folk, the factory shows no sign of disturbing the landscape. In reality, Poughkeepsie Iron Works created such a constant din and stench that, as one historian sarcastically noted, “Without the snorting of the blowing engine residents of the southern section of Poughkeepsie scarcely knew how to go to sleep at night.” The Danish-born owner of the ironworks probably commissioned the German-born Carmiencke to commemorate this impressive symbol of an immigrant’s success.

Geography: 
Depicted Poughkeepsie, New York
Made in New York, United States
Status: 
Not on view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
19th century
Classification: 
Paintings
Bibliography: 

Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 242, no. 137, ill.

Alexander Nemerov, “The Pleasure of Conversation,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2003): 42, fig. 2.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.