Louis Eilshemius was an eccentric painter who captured the interest of the avant-garde in the early twentieth century. New York Roof Tops reflects Eilshemius’s appreciation of the visionary night scenes of Albert Pinkham Ryder, the one living American artist he admired in 1908, as well as the work of Robert Henri and John Sloan who made New York City life the subject of their work after 1900. Eilshemius’s intent, however, was not to show human activity in the city, but to depict a mood that emanates from this urban world.
Eilshemius’s rooftop views of New York are some of the finest romantic cityscapes in American art and exemplify his skilled brushwork; through his delicate handling of the paint, his tender feelings toward the scene become obvious. His palette is sublime and captures the subtle quality of the light through the smog of the city, juxtaposing the pastel colors of the sky against the dark, somber buildings penetrating the horizon. In New York Roof Tops the artist depicts a magical city where the moon rises over the darkened silhouette of buildings and rooftop spires set against a richly colored twilight sky.