Painting Mystery

Looking at this painting you’d never guess it was from the Harlem Renaissance artist/designer Aaron Douglas:

This undated painting is said to be of Harlem, but Ephemeral New York, hasn’t been able to figure out where in Harlem (on the Hudson, or on the Harlem Rivers) it was based:

At an unknown date, he also painted this moody landscape of Harlem. In a departure from his better-known work, Douglas depicts a row of dramatic buildings high on a hillside, the riverfront dotted with modest dwellings below.

But where exactly is this scene?

Douglas and his wife lived at 409 Edgecombe Avenue, a 13-story apartment house in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem with a commanding view of the Harlem River Valley, according to a 1994 article by Christopher Gray in the New York Times. Other elite tenants included Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B. DuBois, and Walter White.

Though none of the hillside buildings in the painting resemble number 409, I wonder if this scene isn’t farther north on Edgecombe (officially in Washington Heights), where the avenue overlooks Coogan’s Bluff and the Polo Ground Towers, former home of the Polo Grounds.

The topography there is steep and thick with trees. Then again, this could be West Harlem overlooking an entirely different river, the Hudson.

You can go to their comments section to see what others have suggested, and perhaps even offer your own thoughts.

The painting “A View of Harlem” was sold by Sotheby’s in 2007:

Thoughts or comments on this post?