1930 Varin View of the First Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois

Chicago in 1857. View from the Court House looking South West. - Main View

1930 Varin View of the First Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois


A beautiful view of a church that burned during the 1871 Great Chicago Fire.


Chicago in 1857. View from the Court House looking South West.
  1930 (dated)     18.5 x 14.5 in (46.99 x 36.83 cm)


This is a 1930 Raoul Varin aquatint view of the First Baptist Church at the corner of Washington and South LaSalle Streets in Chicago, Illinois, as it appeared in 1857. The view looks southwest over Chicago from the top of the courthouse. The First Baptist Church dominates the foreground, while individual buildings and trees line South LaSalle Street. Ship masts are visible along the Chicago River. Both the courthouse and the First Baptist Church burned during the Great Chicago Fire of October 8-10, 1871.
Source Print
Varin likely based this work on Alexander Hesler's 1858 Panorama of Chicago. The perspective of the First Baptist Church matches Hessler's panorama, down to the inclusion of the southwest corner of the Courthouse Grounds. Varin embellished the view by adding pedestrians on the sidewalks and a horse and buggy on Washington Street.
Aquatint is a printmaking technique that has been used since the 18th century. In aquatint, the artist creates an image by marking on the surface of a copper or zinc plate. The marks hold the ink, which is then transferred to paper when the plate is passed through a printing press. One of the innovations of the aquatint process was the ability to create tonal variation depending on how the image was etched onto the printing plate.
Publication History and Census
This view was created by Raoul Varin and published by A. Ackermann and Son in Chicago in 1930. Varin produced a series of thirty-one views of Chicago between 1926 and 1932, each issued in a limited edition of 125 prints. The present print is hand-numbered in the lower-left corner and is number 21 of 125, making it an early impression in the print run. It is signed by Varin on the lower right. Today, Varin's prints are known to have suffered from poor framing and are generally not in the best condition. The presently offered print, however, is stunning. We are aware of one other example of this view in private hands.


Raoul Varin (1865 - 1943) was a French watercolorist active in Europe and the North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Varin exhibited in the Salon of French Artists and received an honorable mention in 1892. He is most famous for his historic Chicago aquatint views, of which he produced some 31 between 1926 and 1932. The collection included historic views drawn from early sources as current views of Chicago as Raoul saw it. Some were engraved by Ernest Byfield, who was the initial publisher of the series. Later, after Byfield went bankrupt, publication was taken over by A. Ackermann and Son's Chicago office. Buoyed by the success of his Chicago series, Varin went on to produce a series of 'Old New York', images, but these did not attain the same level of popularity. Learn More...

Ackermann (1795 - 199x) was a British publishing firm founded by Rudolph Ackermann (April 20, 1764 - March 30, 1834). First known as R. Ackermann and Company, Ackermann's three sons took over the business when their father retired. The firm was known as A. Ackermann and Son in the early 20th century and had offices in London, Paris, New York, and Chicago. Their New York office was exceptionally prolific, issuing work for both the private and government sectors. Ackermann was acquired in late 1990s and the imprint resurrected. Learn More...


Very good. Even overall toning. Signed and numbered by the artist. Blank on verso.