NYC Architectural Rendering Exceeds Expectations

A 37″ x 19″ color pencil rendering by John C.Wenrich of the Art Deco skyscraper at 70 Pine Street, a Manhattan landmark, brought $5000 (includes buyer’s premium) at Worth Auctions’ October 15 sale in Freeville, New York. According to the auction house, the price is a record for the artist.

The pencil architectural rendering from 1932 was gifted to the building’s architectural supervisor and is accompanied by documentation of the opening of the building. The building at 70 Pine Street has had a number of names throughout its history; it served as the headquarters of AIG from the mid-1970s until 2008; and it was the tallest building in Lower Manhattan for many years. It has recently undergone a renovation and now serves as a luxury residential and retail property.

Wenrich (1894-1970) served as an architectural illustrator for Rockefeller Center and for the 1939 and 1964 New York World’s Fairs. He was born in Cumberland, Maryland, the son of a locomotive engineer. In 1914 he enrolled at the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (RAMI, now RIT) where he studied drawing and design. In 1916 Wenrich received the Wiltsie Water-Color prize, an award given annually to two students at RAMI from 1892 to 1943. After two years, he moved to New York City where he spent a year at the Art Students League. Wenrich also studied for five months at the University of Toulouse in France following his two years of service in the U.S. Army during World War I. When he returned from Europe, he joined the firm of Gordon & Kaelber Architects, Rochester, New York, as an illustrator, staying there until 1931. His art was strongly influenced by Japanese woodblock artists of the early 20th century.

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Originally published in the October 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest