A group of perspective views of New York and Boston during the American Revolution. A perspective view, or "vue d'optiques," was a special type of popular print published in Europe during the eighteenth century. These prints were a form of entertainment meant to be viewed through a device called an "optical machine" or an "optique." This machine used a lens to enhance for viewers the magnification and perception of three-dimensional depth of the prints. A mirror was often used so that the perspective prints could be viewed when laid flat, and this meant the image was viewed in reverse, which explains the appearance of a super-title above each image, printed in reverse so it would be readable when viewed through the optique. The titles are printed "right reading" at the bottom, in two languages as the prints were sold throughout Europe. [ Go to page with other perspective views of all parts of the world ]
A number of perspective prints depicted the American Revolution for a European audience hungry for news of the strange events in the British colonies. These four prints, produced in Germany, were supposed to display events in New York City. The images are not, however, accurate, but rather are creations of the artist's mind based on the accounts he would have received. The street scenes, for instance, are based on a typical European city of the day, not New York City. The prints do, however, beautifully reflect the European understanding of events across the Atlantic, events that were of great interest to Germans, French and the British when these prints were produced.
A series of contemporary prints of the American Revolution from Edward Barnard's History of England. This delightful history was described on one of the prints as "A Work Universally Acknowledged to be the Best Performance of the Kind,-on account of It's Impartiality, Accuracy, New Improvements, Superior Elegance, &c." It was issued at the end of the eighteenth century in response to the growing demand for works on all subjects by a newly educated reading public in England. The history was full of prints on all aspects of English history, including these images of the the Revolution.
Robert Pollard. "Lieutenant Moody." London: R. Pollard, 19 February 1785. Aquatint by R. Pollard. Original hand color. 15 x 20 1/2. Trimmed just within plate marks, but all text and image is present. Small spot and short repaired tear in text area. Otherwise, very good condition.
Lt. James Moody (d. 1809), an officer in the 1st. battalion of New Jersey Volunteers, is said to have struck terror into the hearts of New Jersey Whigs. According to the text below the title, Moody heard of the imprisonment of a British soldier who had been captured by the Americans and falsely convicted of a capital crime. In May 1780, Moody made a daring nighttime raid on the jail, freeing the soldier and escaping the "rebel" pursuit. This image is beautifully rendered, showing Moody and his men unshackling the prisoner, who could not believe he was being freed. The scene is particularly dramatic with the central tableau lit only by candlelight. Not long after the event shown here, Moody was himself captured by troops under the command of Gen. Anthony Wayne and placed in irons in a rock dungeon at West Point. This rare British print is unusual in extolling the virtues of an American Tory. $1,600
James Trenchard. "Amelia: or the faithless Briton." From The Columbian Magazine. Philadelphia: October, 1787. Engraving by J. Trenchard. 5 x 3 3/4. Accompanied by text. Very good condition. Cresswell, 344.
This scarce piece of contemporary historical fiction about the American Revolution is from a novel serialized in Charles Willson Peale's magazine, Columbian Magazine. Amelia, a virtuous girl from a farm in New York, has been seduced by a British officer named Doliscus. When she had a child by him, he tries to escape to London, but she follows him. He spirits her away from his London estate and leaves her in a distant slum. The picture shows Amelia about to take her own life with a cup of laudanum when her father, Horatio Blyfield, enters the door. "(To be continued)." $125
"The Distressed Mother." London: G.G.J. & J. Robinson, July, 1788. "Engraved for the Lady's Magazine." Engraving. 6 1/4 x 4 1/4 (plate marks). Light smudge at left. Otherwise, very good condition.
A scarce and unusual picture, issued in Lady's Magazine, showing sentiments in England following the American Revolution. This escapist piece of fiction describes a young woman with child whose husband was serving in the "American War." She received a letter from him saying that he was wounded, but then later was informed by the government that he was dead. After suffering a number of reverses she was about the kill herself and her infant, when at that very moment her husband miraculously appeared and saved her. He sold his commission to be with her and live happily ever after. Ref.: not found in any source we have studied on the American Revolution. $125
"A View of St. John's upon the River Sorell in Canada, with the Redoubts, Works &c. Taken in the Year of 1776, during the late War in America." From Thomas Anburey's Travels Through the Interior Parts of America. London: William Lane, 1789. Engraving. 7 3/4 x 15 3/4. Complete margins; close and remargined at left. Very good condition. Cresswell: 349.
Thomas Anburey was one of Burgoyne's officers who wrote a memoir that was designed to defend his commanding officer and himself from those critical of the British defeat at Saratoga. Historians have criticized Anburey for copying from the writings of Burgoyne, Smyth, Henley and others, but that was the method of the day. What sets Anburey's work apart from others is the fascinating plates showing encampments and scenes from the British viewpoint during the American Revolution. This print shows St. John's, a settlement strategically located on the Richelieu or Sorell River between Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River. It consisted primarily of fortifications. The British built ships there for use on Lake Champlain. Brig. Gen. Richard Montgomery led an attack on the fort, capturing it in November, 1775, but the British retook St. John's the following year. $850
John Graham. "...the Burial of General Fraser..." London: John Jeffreys, 1 May 1794. Engraving by W. Nutter. 16 3/4 x 23 1/4. Lovely hand color (probably period). Trimmed to image top and sides and just below title at bottom. Fully conserved and lined. Overall, very good condition and excellent appearance.
A rare British print of a poignant event in the American Revolution. In June 1777, Major General John Burgoyne began his campaign, with over 7,000 troops, heading south from Canada down the Lake Champlain/Hudson River valley in an attempt to cut off the New England rebels from those to the south. Though his troops fought bravely, the hostile wilderness and overwhelming number of opponents soon led him into dire straights. The commander of Burgoyne's advance corps, General Simon Fraser, was conspicuously brave and successful in a number of actions. On October 7, 1777, while leading his troops during the "2nd battle of Saratoga" at Bemis Heights, Fraser was targeted by American sharpshooters and fatally struck by a musket ball. Fraser's last wish was to be buried on the spot he had died defending. Fraser was adored by his companions and men and Burgoyne resolved to carry out this request despite the difficult circumstances.
As evening fell, a burial party carried Fraser's body out to the redoubt where he had been shot, which then lay between the opposing lines. Despite heavy fire by the Americans, the brave British officers, chaplain and surgeon solemnly went about their sad task. When the Americans finally realized the nature of this group of mourners, firing ceased except for a lone cannon which continued to fire at intervals in honor of the brave Fraser. This stirring occurrence became a popular subject in England, spurring John Graham in 1791 to paint a heroic image of the burial, all the individuals painted with careful likenesses. John Jeffreys then commissioned W. Nutter to produce this superb engraving of Graham's image. The identified figures are, from left to right: Earl of Harrington; General Burgoyne; Major-General Phillips; Reverend Brudenell; Captain Green; Lieutenant Colonel Kingston; Major Fraser; Mr. Wood, Surgeon; Earl of Balcarres; Major General Riedesel. $2,400
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
John Singleton Copley. "The Siege and Relief of Gibraltar." London: John Singleton Copley, 1810. 22 3/4 x 32 1/4 (image). Engraved by William Sharp. Hand color. Minor mat burn just inside plate mark not affecting image. Several minor tears in margins expertly repaired. Faint water stain in bottom margin. Strong impression with vivid hand color. Conserved. Stable. Good condition. Brown, 17.
A large and dramatic print by the well known American artist John Singleton Copley (1738-1815). Copley, a Boston native, flourished as a portrait artist in the colonies before he settled in London in 1775 and focused on the painting of historical scenes. Copley was a master at painting heroic multi-figure compositions. This print depicts the defeat of the Spanish floating batteries at Gibraltar during the Great Siege of Gibraltar. The Governor of Gibraltar, General George Augustus Eliott, is on horseback pointing to defeated Spanish. The painting is based on the unsuccessful attempt by Spain and France to capture Gibraltar from the British during the War of American Independence. Following the battle, the City of London commissioned Copley in 1783 to depict the victory. Twenty seven years later Copley personally published this large print based on his large oil painting. An excellent example of English battle art of this period. $1,800
John Blake White. "Gen. Marion in his swamp encampment inviting a British Officer to dinner." New York: James Dalton, 1840. 16 5/8 x 20 3/8. Mezzotint by John Sartain. Repaired tear at top, extending ca. 3" into image and old soft crease at right. Overall, very good condition and strong impression.
A rare and exquisite historical mezzotint by John Sartain, one of the well-known Sartain family of engravers. Drawn by John Blake White, the image shows the historic meeting between the "Swamp Fox" and a British officer. British troops in South Carolina were hard pressed by Marion and were hoping for a 'regular' battle in the open rather than a continuation of Marion's guerrilla tactics. The officer, captured by Marion, was surprised to be offered a civil and refined reception by Marion, who the British had characterized as a coarse and crude ruffian. White's image depicts some interesting details: the handkerchief that was used to blindfold the officer and the dinner of sweet potato that Marion invited the officer to share. Artistically and historically a most desirable American print.
The American Art Union (1839-1851) was created to support contemporary American art and to develop a popular appreciation of it. The AAU, organized by James Herring in 1839 as the "Apollo Association for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in the United States," kept this name for its first five years. $3,200
After John Trumbull. "The Battle Of Bunker's Hill, June 17th 1775." From The United States Military Magazine. Philadelphia: Huddy & Duval, 1840. Lithograph by A. Hoffy. 7 5/8 x 10 3/4 (image). Narrow right hand margin and two repaired tears in left hand margin not affecting image. Minor smudging in title area. Print has been professionally conserved. Otherwise, very good condition. Rare.
The rare and fascinating magazine entitled, The United States Military Magazine and Record of all the Volunteers, together with the Army and Navy, was published in Philadelphia by Huddy & Duval from 1839 to 1841. Volume I dealt with volunteer companies, volume II with the exploits of the United States Army & Navy, and volume III with more volunteers. Issues were sold either colored for $1.00 or plain for 50 cents. This is a fine rendering of Trumbull's classic image of the Battle of Bunker's Hill, lithographed by Alfred Hoffy, one of the leading American lithographers of the first part of the nineteenth century. $600
Tompkins Harrison Matteson. "The First Prayer in Congress. September 1774, in Carpenters Hall Philadelphia." New York: John Neale, 1848. 16 1/2 x 22 1/4. Mezzotint by H.S. Sadd. Printed by Neale & Pate. Strong impression. Excellent condition.
A patriotic rendering of the first prayer in the Continental Congress on September 7, 1774. Matteson created his painting based on a first had drawing made by one of the delegates to the Congress. The painting was purchased by and auctioned off by the American Art Union and also engraved into a this fine print by H.S. Sadd. The founding fathers, including George Washington, are shown in solemn prayer, preparing to face the needs of the nation. It is a moving scene from the founding of our nation and a fine example of nineteenth century printmaking. $750
F.O.C. Darley. "Wyoming." New York: W.H. Holbrooke, 1852. Engraving by J.C. McRae. 18 1/4 x 25 1/2. Hand color. Very good condition.
A dramatic, large engraving based on F.O.C. Darley's drawing of the Wyoming Valley massacre. Darley is perhaps best known as America's first great illustrator, producing numerous images for books and magazines in the nineteenth century. He also, though, produced many historical images which were made into separate folio prints. Indeed, such was Darley's influence through his illustrations and prints that he must be seen as seminal in the forging of the American national identity. This print shows the fight on July 3, 1777 between Patriot militia and Loyalist troops supported by Indian allies in the Wyoming Valley in northern Pennsylvania. After a brief but fierce battle, the militia troops fled, only to be pursed, especially by the Indians, who killed and tortured those they could catch. This "massacre" became a rallying point for Patriots leading to retaliation in the Sullivan-Clinton campaign against the Iroquois in 1779. This print was supposed to be "First of a Series of national Engravings" to be issued by W.H. Holbrooke, or both New York and London, but none others seem to have been issued. $1,200
Peter F. Rothermel. "Patrick Henry Delivering His Celebrated Speech In The House of Burgesses, Virginia. A.D. 1765." Philadelphia: Art Union of Philadelphia, 1852. 22 1/2 x 17 3/4. Engraving by Alfred Jones. Strong impression. Slight blemishes in margins, not affecting image. Else, very good condition. With Art Union blind-stamp.
Like the American Art Union, the Art Union of Philadelphia was formed in the mid-nineteenth century for the appreciation of American art. Historical depictions were one of the favorite topics of the prints issued by the Union for its subscribers. This print is a dramatically realized scene showing Patrick Henry delivering his famous speeches to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1765. "Caesar had his Brutus--Charles the First, his Cromwell--and George the Third may profit by their example," and then to cries of 'treason,' "If this be treason, make the most of it." Peter Rothermel, best known for his famous image of the Battle of Gettysburg, presents the historic tableau in dramatic fashion, Henry standing calmly in the center of the turmoil of the other delegates, pointing to the higher authority of heaven. A emotional and patriotic rendering of this early Revolutionary episode. $1,250
F.O.C. Darley. "'First Blow For Liberty.' To the Memory of the Patriots of 1775." New York: Mason Bros, 1858. Engraving by A.H. Ritchie. 20 x 29 1/4. Wide margins. Minor blemishes in margin and title area. Overall, very good condition. Denver.
F.O.C. Darley is perhaps best known as America's first great illustrator, producing numerous images for books and magazines in the nineteenth century. He also, though, produced many historical images which were made into separate folio prints. Indeed, such was Darley's influence through his illustrations and prints that he must be seen as seminal in the forging of the American national identity. This dramatic image of the Battle of Lexington ("Here once the embattled farmer's stood and fired the shot heard round the world") is a classic representation of the fight for liberty by the American patriots. Issued just before the Civil War, it was a reminder to those seeking to preserve slavery what was the main principal for the founding of the nation: liberty for all. $875
Joannes A. Oertel. "Pulling Down The Statue Of George III. By The 'Sons of Freedom.' At the Bowling Green City of New York July 1776." New York: John C. McRae, . Engraving by J.C. McRae. 20 1/4 x 30 1/2 (image). Full margins. Strong strike. Excellent condition.
A dramatic colonial scene made by New York printmaker, John C. McRae. McRae produced large, uncolored engravings of historical scenes in the mid-nineteenth century and this is one of his most elaborate. It shows the "Sons of Freedom" tearing down the statue of King George on July 9, 1776. An equestrian statue of the British monarch had been erected on the Bowling Green in New York City in 1770 and when news of the Declaration of Independence arrived a crowd gathered to tear done this symbol of the British crown. The scene, as recreated by McRae, shows a crowd of well dressed Americans gathering for this partisan escapade and even includes a Native America in full war dress, a spectator who was just a figment of McRae's imagination. A stirring patriotic image. $2,800
John Binns. "Declaration of Independence. In Congress. July 4th. 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America." Philadelphia: J. Binns, 1819. Published by James S. Earle & Son, Philadelphia, 1860. 35 1/4 x 24 3/4 (platemarks) plus full margins. Engraving. Print has been professionally conserved and is in very good condition. References to the first printing: American Political Prints: 1819-1; John Bidwell's "American History in Image and Text" in Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, XCVIII: pt. 2 (1988): #5.
With the end of the War of 1812 by the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, the American people were feeling secure in the future of their new country, and they realized that the formulators and signers of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were almost gone from American political life. At that time with the rise of intense and often acrimonious political partisanship, printmakers began celebrating the unifying documents and founding fathers with adulatory broadsides that combined texts and pictures. By then the Declaration of Independence had taken on new meaning signifying the unity and history of the nation, so it is not surprising that a number of prints were produced glorifying the document.
An Irish immigrant who became a Philadelphia journalist and publisher, John Binns, was the first to conceive the idea of a "splendid and correct copy of the Declaration of Independence, with fac-similes of all the signatures," for which he sought subscribers in 1816. Because of the care which he took in producing his print—using the work of several artists, carefully copying the state seals, and borrowing accurate portraits for his medallions—it took over three years before the print was finally completed in 1819. In the meantime, Benjamin Owen Tyler, who had undoubtedly learned of Binns' project, rushed a less expensive and simpler facsimile to market, beating Binns by over a year and cutting into his market. To counter this, Binns got permission to add a statement from Secretary of State John Quincy Adams that the signatures on his print were exact duplicates of the originals. And while not first in production, Binns' print of the Declaration was the first to be conceived and was a finer production than the cheaper Tyler print.
Binns broadside is a most impressive engraving, reproducing the text of the Declaration of Independence with beautiful calligraphy and including accurate facsimiles of all the original signatures, the whole encircled by seals of the original thirteen states. At the top is an American eagle beneath which George Washington's portrait is surrounded by spears, flags, trumpets of war and the cornucopia of peace and prosperity. On either side of Washington are portraits of Thomas Jefferson and John Hancock. Binns' print spawned many imitations; it is one of the rarest and most important American political prints of the early nineteenth century. This 1860 restrike has not been recorded anywhere, and relatively fewer copies than the original must have been issued in the tumultuous first year of the Civil War. JT OUT ON APPROVAL
Tompkins Harrison Matteson. "The Spirit of - 76." Philadelphia, 1862. Mezzotint and etching on steel by H.S. Sadd. 15 7/8 x 19. Trimmed to image at top and sides and to title at bottom. Some scattered surface abrasions, but image bright and crisp.
A classic picture of the soldier gallantly going off to war for family and country. The man of the family accepts a rifle from his elderly father and a sword from his mother. His distraught wife kneels before him while buckling his belt, and his eldest child holds his powder horn. His infant child sleeps in the arms of a nursemaid who holds a copy of the Declaration of Independence, while in the left background a soldier comes to the door bearing the call to arms. Implements of domestic life are scattered about the house interior to signify that they are to be left behind.
This print was published when the American Civil War was completing its second year, and the toll of death and destruction was making recruitment of troops more difficult. Reminding the populace of the heroism of the revolution that founded the country was a way to illustrate the necessity of continuing the heroism. We have seen this picture in later printings, but never before with the notation that it was given by newsboys to subscribers. Customarily given at Christmas time, the print would have been designed to encourage recruitment to military service with the intention to enlist and train men and boys for the coming Spring campaigns. A fascinating look at a patriotic appeal to not only Philadelphians but all Americans during the Civil War. $600
Genl. George Washington. The Father of His Country." Hartford: Kellogg & Comstock, New York: George Whiting, and Buffalo: D. Needham. Lithograph. Ca. 12 x 9. Original hand color. Very good condition.
A portrait of Washington as general in during the War of Independence. Washington is proudly seated on his stallion and in the background is shadowy image of American troops. A nice example of the work by Currier & Ives' chief competitor for popular prints in the middle of the nineteenth century. $325
Max Rosenthal. "The Dawn of Liberty." Philadelphia: William Smith, 1864. 16 x 22 1/4. Lithograph by L.N. Rosenthal. Wide margins. Very good condition.
A patriotic print issued towards the end of the Civil War, reflecting the notion that the belief in Liberty had its roots deep in American history. The Revolutionary War period scene shows General Thomas Gage meeting with a group of children who had been arrested by British troops for 'revolutionary' activity. Gage was so impressed with the boys' bravery and high ideals that he remarks, "The very children here draw in a love of liberty with the air they breathe. You may go my brave boys, and be assured if my troops trouble you again they shall be punished." The Civil War was seen in the North very much as a battle of principles, and prints such as this assured the public that their fight was part of a glorious and noble past. $350
F.A. Chapman. "Raising The Liberty Pole." [New York: James Tyroler, 1876]. Engraving by John C. McRae. Hand color. 18 3/4 x 27 3/4. Repaired puncture at bottom left margin. Good condition.
A dramatic colonial scene made by New York printmaker, John C. McRae. McRae produced large, uncolored engravings of historical scenes in the mid-nineteenth century and this is one of his most elaborate. The image, "Dedicated to the American People," was issued about the time of "The Centenary of Independence," and was "Commemorative of 1776." It shows the raising of the liberty pole in a village green of a colonial town. Patriots are gathered to volunteer for "War, Liberty, Rights," and to cheer on American liberty. In the background can be seen a group lowering a tavern sign with the "King's Head," and another group march off to fight. The detail and sentiment is wonderful, honoring the American spirit that had been sparked a hundred years before this print was issued and which still burns today over another century later. $1,800
"Battle of Princeton." Chicago: Louis Kurz, 1911. 17 1/2 x 25 . Chromolithograph. Very good condition.
A bright and attractive print showing the famed Revolutionary War battle. Washington is shown leading his troops against the Red Coat lines. Nassau Hall is shown in the distance and the ground is covered with snow. $550
Reference book on prints of the American Revolution
Donald H. Cresswell. The American Revolution in Drawings and Prints. Washington, 1975. Cloth. Very good condition. Reprint.
The most comprehensive listing of contemporary prints of the American Revolution, based on the collection in the Library of Congress. Lists and describes various types of contemporary images, with a particularly interesting section on cartoons and allegories. $120.00
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