New York from the south end of Central Park, circa 1931
Framed (ref: 570)
Pastel on buff paper, 14 1/2 x 22 1/2 in. (36.8 x 57.2 cm.)
Sauter visited New York in the late 1920s in the company of his aged uncle the writer John Galsworthy (best known for his Forsyte Saga), and returned in the 1930s. While London was the world’s largest metropolis with a population of 7.7 million, New York closely rivalled it and seemed more dynamic with its impressive skyscrapers, an American invention
Despite the trauma of the Wall Street Crash of October 1929, which heralded the Depression years of the 1930s, the relentless pace of building skyscrapers hardly abated. Sauter has captured this frenetic, upward-soaring activity, rejecting the classic view at the southern end of Manhattan for a lowish viewpoint somewhere near the south of Central Park. The unmistakable silvery silhouette of the exuberant Chrysler Building is on the left of the picture. Built between 1927 and 1930 for the automobile magnate Walter Chrysler to a design of William Van Allen, it soon became an internationally recognised symbol of the Art Deco style. Actually, its glistening, flamboyantly jazzy stainless-steel crown, illuminated at night, was a late decision, adding 180 ft to its height but, by incorporating hub-caps and so on in its design, it pleased the publicityconscious Walter Chrysler. On the right of the picture is the equally famous, though more sombre, 102-storey Empire State Building, at 1250 ft the tallest building in the world when completed in 1931 (in record time); it overtook the Chrysler and remained unsurpassed for four decades, until the construction of the ill-fated World Trade Center (1977). By contrast the twin spires in the middle ground are those of the Neo-gothic St Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, designed by James Renwick, Jr. The 330-ft height of the spires, inspired by Cologne and completed in 1888, would rise above the skyline of most cities, but in New York they illustrate just how much its skyscrapers dwarfed conventional buildings.
Many of the other skyscrapers seen in this view were demolished post-war,
when the New York skyline changed significantly.
Although best known as a figurative artist, later in life Sauter produced a series of abstract paintings in pastel.
We are grateful to Michael Barker for assistance.