Gregor Reisch's Margarita Philosophica (Pearl of Wisdom) was an compendium of contemporary knowledge and science intended for young students. It included twelve sections: grammar, dialectics, rhetoric, arithmetic, music, geometry, astronomy and astrology, natural philosophy, the origin of things, powers of animal sensation, powers of the animal intellect, and moral philosophy. First published in 1503, it went through a number of editions through the sixteenth century, becoming one of the most influential works of the early Renaissance. Reisch (1467-1525) was a monk and prior of the Carthusian monastery at Freiburg, the confessor of Emperor Maximilian I, and the teacher of John Eck and Martin Waldseemüller. His Margarita Philosophica was influential not only because of its learned and encyclopedic yet accessible textual information, but because it was accompanied by numerous, delightful woodcuts illustrating the text. This print concerns Logic, shown as a hunter (for truth?) chasing an allegorical hare, representing a "Pblenia" (problem), with his two dogs, "Veritas" (truth), and "Falsitas" (falsity). Various logical terms are engraved about the image. What is particularly interesting is that this version of this image is a crude copy of earlier versions. What is most noticeable is that most of the terms are printed backwards. The carver cut the terms front reading, meaning they printed the other way, so that it is quite difficult to figure out the various terms except by comparing them to an earlier version of the print. This does, however, lend a certain charm to the print, as evidence of human failings in the sixteenth century. $350
John J. Barralet. "America Guided by Wisdom: An Allegorical representation of the United States, denoting their Independence and Prosperity." Philadelphia, ca. 1815. First state, previous to Stauffer, 3115. Engraving by Benjamin Tanner. 15 1/8 x 22 3/8. Good impression. Trimmed to platemark as usual. Very good condition. Fowble, 324.
The War of 1812 has often been called the "Second War of Independence," especially at the time. Following a series of naval victories and battles at Baltimore and New Orleans, Americans were infused with a new optimism based on a peace treaty that arranged for them to be left alone to develop their new country. This print uses symbols of republican virtues to express pride in the new country. Six lines of descriptive text explain that the focus is on Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom, who points to an escutcheon of the United States with the motto "Union and Independence," emblazoned on a shield held by America. Thrown down at their feet and behind them is a spear and shield with the visage of Medusa. To the right of this vignette is an equestrian statue of Washington at the entrance of a grand temple. To the left the god Mercury, representing commerce, points to proudly sailing ships to indicate his approval to the goddess Ceres, who holds wheat (a symbol of agriculture), while to her back are symbols of American industry: spinning, beekeeping, and plowing. This is a rich allegory to describe America.
We date this print at 1815 because that year marked the end of the War of 1812, and the message is appropriate for that time. Also, in that year Benjamin Tanner (1775-1848) entered a partnership with Vallance, Kearney & Company whose names are added to a later state of this print as described by David M. Stauffer. So the imprint, as well as the wonderfully strong lines, suggests that this printing is a first state. This print is after a drawing by John James Barralet (ca. 1747-1815), an Irish artist who came to Philadelphia about 1795. He had established a reputation as a landscape and historical artist in Dublin and London. When Barralet first arrived in Philadelphia he was hired as an engraver by Alexander Lawson and soon took up painting landscapes in and around Philadelphia. Among American engravers, Barralet is credited with inventing a ruling machine for work on bank notes. $3,200
John Michael Enzing-Miller. "Family Monument From the History of our Country." No publication information but most likely published in New York ca. 1870. Engraving by J.M. Enzing-Miller. 21 7/8 x 29 7/8. Scuffing in margins with a few chips along margin edges. Some scattered wear in sky and a few minor scuffs as well. Print has been professionally conserved. Else very good. Strong impression.
A wonderful allegory chock-a-block full of images "From the History of our Country." This print was issued in the midst of the Civil War and its purpose was clearly to present the glorious past of the United States as a graphic justification for the fight to preserve the country.
The base of our history is rendered as the discoveries of Columbus-dated 1492 and with the explorer receiving the submission of Native Americans wearing the headdresses of the Plains Indians-and the Vikings-dated 1000 and depicted being shown the grapes from which they named Vinland. Just above is a line of early settlers, from the Pilgrims to a frontier family living in a hide hut. Above and to the right are scenes from the American Revolution, including a rather graphic image of the American Eagle ravaging the British Lion and Unicorn. In the upper left is a scene showing the growth and prosperity of the nation, with vast lands stretching off into the distance, a city on a river crowded with ships, and locomotives steaming by, while above this flies and American flag.
The entire image is crowned by a pyramid that mirroring the Acropolis, faced with the shields of the states of the union, and upon which stands line of fifteen Presidents (interestingly no Lincoln), at the head of which Washington holds a hand on the Constitution, while covering his heart with his other hand. Seated nearby is a figure holding the Declaration of Independence, and flying above are goddesses of Liberty and Justice. In the distance, behind the Presidents, is shown the Capitol surmounted by another large American flag.
The artist, John Michael Enzing-Miller, who also engraved this impressive print, was a German-born painter who emigrated to America 1848, exhibiting his works at the National Academy and American Art Union. This print was a paean to his adopted country, and he intended the viewer of this teeming "Family Monument" of American history to be moved to wonder how anyone could wish to render the nation asunder. $1,650
John Francis Renault. "The British surrendering their Arms to Gen: Washington after their defeat at York Town in Virginia October 1781. To the Defenders of American Independence, this print is most respectfully inscribed by their Fellow Citizen." "Jn. Fcis. Renault." is trimmed off bottom margin. Philadelphia: Tanner, Vallance, Kearny & Co., 1819. 20 1/4 x 32 3/4. Engraving by Tanner, Vallance, Kearny & Co. and Wm. Allen. A strong, clear strike. Margins top and right side trimmed within platemarks and hair margin at left side. Trimmed at bottom to lose one line of text. Professionally conserved but one slightly brown stain remains in sky. Overall as good or better then they come. Fielding:1567; American Battle Art: 29.
A rare and fascinating group portrait/allegory of the surrender of the British at Yorktown. Renault was assistant secretary to Count de Grasse, commander of the French navy at Yorktown, and he was involved as an engineer at the siege. As with many other Frenchmen, Renault was inspired by the nation whose independence he helped win, thus this grand image is his homage to that nation and its ideals. The participants for both sides are depicted across the foreground, the central focus of which is Cornwallis in the act of handing his sword to Washington. These portraits are surrounded by a plethora of allegorical symbols. In the background, soldiers and citizens can be seen in a field and to the right a village on a hill. To the left is a neo-classical victory column and a funeral urn inscribed with the names of war heroes and surrounded by muses and a cherub holding a copy of the Declaration of Independence. To the right is an image of a goddess wearing the cap of liberty and striking down her foes with lightning bolts. However, there are some historical inaccuracies. Cornwallis did not participate in the surrender ceremonies due to illness. The Irish General O'Hara led the conquered army carrying Cornwallis' sword. O'Hara offered the sword to fellow European Comte de Rochambeau, who waved him toward Washington. Washington in turn pointed to a subordinate who had been designated to receive the surrender and the sword was therefore handed to General Lincoln, who the year before had surrendered his own sword at Charleston.
The print was beautifully engraved by the Philadelphia firm of Tanner, Vallance & Kearney, which was in business only from 1819 to 1823. This print must have been one of their first efforts. Their primary business was the engraving of banknotes. The firm was reasonably prosperous but ended with the death of one of its partners, John Vallance, in 1823. The remaining prints were turned over to Tanner's brother, Benjamin, who had an engraving shop of his own, and he offered them for sale through an advertisement placed in a New England newspaper in 1824. It is not known if Benjamin Tanner acquired the original plate and printed copies of his own.
Such a large, elaborate allegory on the Revolution and its ideals would have been well understood by the public at the time. Few would have been able to afford such a large engraving, but its message spoke to all Americans. This beautifully engraved print is a superb example of art inspired by the rousing ideals and dreams of our nascent nation. $5,200
Richard Corbould. "Botany." From Encyclopaedia Londinensis or, Universal dictionary of arts, sciences, and literature. London: J. Wilkes, March 1, 1805. Ca. 9 x 7 1/4. Stipple engravings with some line work by J. Chapman. Hand color. With light sticker mark in bottom margin. Otherwise, very good condition.
In the era of Enlightenment, books of knowledge, like Encyclopaedia Londinensis, took on a new importance and nobility in the scope of book publishing. Fine artists like Richard Corbould were employed to draw allegorical prints to embellish the volumes. Exalting the pursuit of knowledge, these allegorical prints draw on neo-Classical vocabulary to confer nobility on the studies of geography, botany, painting, and others. In classically-draped garments, female figures pose amid Roman architecture and artifact, employing the tools of investigation specific to their discipline. This wonderful image contains an allegory of the science of botany. $250
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John Gast. "American Progress." From Crofutt's New Overland Tourist, and Pacific Coast Guide. Omaha & Denver: Overland Publishing Co., 1883. Wood engraving. 6 1/2 x 8 7/8. With centerfold as issued. Very good condition. Denver.
A wood engraved version of John Gast's famous image of "American Progress," and allegorical depiction of the notion of "manifest destiny." In it, a female figure representing Columbia is shown leading Americans to the West. She guides and protects miners, farmers, covered wagons, railroads, and even a stage coach, displacing Indian families and the buffalo of the Great Plains. At the same time she is stringing the transcontinental telegraph cable wire with one hand and holds a book in the other. Indians and wildlife are shown to yield to the onslaught of miners, farmers, settlers, stagecoach and railroad. The original painting was commissioned by George Crofutt, who used the image in a number of his guides as well as producing a separate chromolithograph. $65
"See from all Climes the Learn'd Their Incense bring." From The Gentleman's Magazine. London: Edward Cave, 1753. Engraving. 7 x 4 1/4 (image) plus plate marks and margins. With a title page and poem by Mr. Urban on completing his twenty-third volume. Very good condition.
A fascinating allegory making the point that Europeans were gaining in knowledge from their exposure to the rest of the world. The image shows the four continents personified accompanied by putti as they approach the god Mercury. The continents from right to left are Europe, Asia, Africa, and America (as an Indian). The putti hold riches associated with food, geography or lands, languages, fame in the form of a medallion, and on the foreground are a celestial map, a barometer and terrestrial globe. The idealized temple is the home of Mercury the messenger or European Civilization. A charming neoclassical artifact. $175
[Allegory to the Arts in America] Title page. From Delaplaine's Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished American Characters. Philadelphia: Rogers and Esler Printers, 1815-. Line engraving with stipple by Gideon Fairman.
Joseph Delaplaine wanted to publish portraits and biographies of great Americans to counter the current arguments that people and institutions in America were inferior to those in Europe. He included his contemporaries as well as early voyagers to reflect on the strong and adventurous spirits that were involved in the founding of the New World and the American Republic. $90
"Liberty." New York: Caldwell & Co., 1863. Chromolithograph. Oval: 8 1/4 x 6 1/2. Very good condition.
A wonderful Civil War allegory of Liberty shown as a young woman dressed in patriotic dress, including a headdress featuring a golden eagle and a "US" insignia similar to that worn by Union troops. While the issue of slavery was always at the heart of this conflict, it wasn't until Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation that the issue of liberty became more and more the banner waved by those supporting the Union. This charming allegory is a rare lithograph intended for framing and hanging in a patriotic home. $175
"Young America." New York: Currier & Ives, 1857-72. Small folio. Vignette. Ca. 12 x 10. Lithograph. Original hand color. Narrow margins. Some old cracking at edges, but overall very good. C:6834.
An interesting picture by Currier & Ives from around the middle of the nineteenth century. Blue eyed, proud, and wearing Red, White & Blue, this was at least some people's idea of what "young America" looked like. $275
"L'Enfant Prodigue." Credits read, "Peint par E. Dubufe." and "Grave par Leon Girardet." Steel engraving. 23 x 43 (platemarks) plus margins. Copyrighted by M. Knoedler in Washington, D.C. in 1878. Published by Goupil in Berlin, Paris, London and La Haye and by Knoedler in New York. Expertly repaired tears: three into image and some others. Professionally conserved. Overall impression is strong and lovely.
Benezit cites Edouard-Louis Dubufe's (1820-1883) triptych, oil on canvas as located in New York in 1887. The painting was in the collection of A.T. Stewart. Sale of the painting was no doubt spurred by the appearance of this fine and large engraving based on the painting which was probably done in Paris. See: DeCourcy E. McIntosh"s "New York's Favorite Pictures in the 1870s" in The Magazine Antiques (April, 2004) illus. p. 118.
The central panel shows the prodigal son drinking, wenching and gambling, while the left panel shows him among the swine (of a different sort) and the right panel welcomed back by his forgiving father. The popularity of pictures from Europe, especially from Paris, was the most popular in New York. Sales were greater than for those of other countries--even works by American artists. $800
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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. Last updated March 14, 2013