Fourth of July in Centre Square

by 1812

John Lewis Krimmel emigrated from his native Germany to Philadelphia in 1810. At first he supported himself by painting portraits and teaching drawing but soon began to paint images of Philadelphia life; he may, in fact, be the earliest American artist to specialize in genre scenes. Krimmel was actively involved with the then-new Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts until his death by drowning in the Schuylkill River. "Fourth of July in Centre Square" depicts a broad range of the city's population, including fashionable ladies and gentlemen, plainly dressed Quakers, and African-American citizens. Latrobe's Philadelphia Water Works, shown at left, was considered a marvel of engineering as well as an icon of neo-classical design for the growing city. The clean water provided by its steam-driven pumping station also made possible America's first public fountain, the centerpiece of which was "Water Nymph and Bittern," an allegory of the Schuylkill River carved by William Rush.


Pennsylvania Academy purchase (from the estate of Paul Beck, Jr.)


The general rights statement in the following paragraph does not apply to this image. Image reproduced from the Greenfield American Art Resource Project at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under the Fair Use Doctrine. Classicizing Philadelphia authorizes no other use whatever, whether non-commercial or commercial, of this specific image. For all uses, including educational, cultural, and scientific appropriations, contact the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118 North Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19102 215-972-7600;




oil on canvas

Krimmel, John L. (American painter of German birth, 1786-1821), “Fourth of July in Centre Square,” Classicizing Philadelphia, accessed January 23, 2019,