Prints by John Sartain
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A classic full length portrait of the founder of Pennsylvania holding his charter from the English king in his right hand and a glove symbolizing elegance and status in his left. The landscape background shows the native Indians as the noble savage, while a peaceful landscape shows a great tree, which could be the treaty oak in Philadelphia, and if so, then the river is the Delaware with an Indian canoe in the far distance. The print was produced by the mezzotint process by John Sartain (1808-1897). Sartain, known as the "father of mezzotint engraving" in the U.S. popularized this elaborate printmaking process when he emigrated to this country from England in 1830. His prints always have a strong and rich texture that enhances their aesthetic qualities considerably, This image is based on a painting by Henry Inman, an artist known particularly for his portraits. Ref.: Ann Katharine Martinez. The Life and Career of John Sartain (1808-1897) , unpublished dissertation at George Washington University (Washington, D.C., 4 May 1986), fig. 13. $950
Henry Inman. "Martin Van Buren, President of the United States." Philadelphia: W.H. Morgan & Son, ca. 1839. Mezzotint by John Sartain. 20 3/8 x 14. Strong impression. Very good condition.
A handsome, full length portrait of Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), eighth president of the United States (1837-41), the first to be born in the United States. This print was produced by John Sartain (1808-1897), known as the "father of mezzotint engraving" in the U.S. popularized this elaborate printmaking process when he emigrated to this country from England in 1830. His prints always have a strong and rich texture that enhances their aesthetic qualities considerably, and the images are always historically accurate. This combination makes prints by Sartain most desirable, and this example is no exception. It is a fine example of American historical portraiture and one of Sartain's most famous engravings. It is interesting to note that the plate for this print was later used to produce a print of Abraham Lincoln, whose head replaced that of Van Buren! The print was based on an 1839 painting by noted portrait artist Henry Inman. $1,100
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
J. Frothingham. "Henry Ware, Jr., Professor of Pulpit Eloquence and the Pastoral Care in the Theological School in Cambridge." Philadelphia: Duffee & Stevens, ca. 1840. 16 3/8 x 13 1/8 (plate marks). Mezzotint engraving by J. Sartain, Philadelphia. Very slight spotting. Good condition.
Henry Ware, Jr. (1794-1843), son of a renowned liberal church leader, was an important figure in the Unitarian movement of the early nineteenth century and one of the leaders in the founding of the American Unitarian Association. Completing Harvard in 1812, he was installed as minister of Boston's Second Church in 1817, a church with a proud history but one that was struggling with membership and finance. Remarkably effective as a minister, combining gifts of personal warmth in his visitations with pulpit eloquence, Ware was an early experimenter in extemporaneous preaching, and his innovative energies resulted in his being appointed to the newly created post of Professor of Pulpit Eloquence and the Pastoral Care at Harvard in 1830. He left the church in the hands of his young colleague Ralph Waldo Emerson, with whom he later had theological differences.
The portraitist, James Frothingham (1786-1864) was from Massachusetts and New York. Born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, he began as a chaise painter. Frothingham was a student of Gilbert Stuart, becoming a portraitist of talent, and Stuart is quoted as having said of one of Frothingham's head portraits, "No man in Boston but myself can paint so good a head." Copperplate printers, William Duffee and D. Stevens were in Philadelphia in the 1830s and 1840s. $350
James Wise. "Henry Clay." Philadelphia: James Wise, 1844. Mezzotint by John Sartain. 17 x 11 1/2. Some wear at edges of margins. Otherwise, excellent condition.
This full length portrait was issued during the 1844 presidential campaign, which was Henry Clay's (1777-1852) third and last time to be nominated by the Whigs. Fractious debates over the annexation of Texas and Oregon, as well as the policies on slavery had torn the Whig party to pieces, and the election was lost to James K. Polk (1795-1849). Little is known about James Wise (fl. 1843-1860) who worked as a portrait and miniature painter in New Orleans in 1843 and Charleston, S.C. in 1844-5. He also worked in Virginia and St. Joseph, Missouri, according to Croce and Wallace. John Sartain (1808-1897) also engraved a portrait of John C. Calhoun after this artist. Here is classic portraiture conveyed through the elegance that was so well expressed through mezzotint engraving. In a handsome suit, backed by solid pillars and surrounded by books, writing materials, and a terrestrial globe, "The Great Pacificator" stands in the pose of an ancient orator. $650
John L. Krimmel. "Home Scene-With Presents/ Returned From Market." New York: W.H. Bidwell, ca. 1844-50. Mezzotint, with engraving, by John Sartain. 9 1/2 x 13 3/4. Excellent condition. Naeve, John Lewis Krimmel, #112. First state. Framed.
A rare and wonderful American genre print issued around the middle of the nineteenth century. The image was based on a painting by John L. Krimmel (1785-1821), a native of Germany who came to the United States in 1810 and settled in Philadelphia. Krimmel painted portraits and miniatures, but he is particularly well known for his good-natured and elaborate street and domestic scenes. Named by many as the first American genre painter, Krimmel is noted today for his masterful sense of composition and keen portrayal of personalities.
In this print, an agrarian father and mother return from town with presents for all, from grandfather, with his paper, and the babe in arms, with her rattle. Characteristically, the artist fills the scene with many potent details, including farm implements and domestic objects. In a subtle circle, motion travels from the mother in the wagon, to the children on the ground, through their father on the steps, to the grandparents and infant on the porch. Among Krimmel's wide output of portraits and genre paintings, "Returned From Market" is his first overtly rural scene. Though based in urban Philadelphia, Krimmel was part of a state - and a nation - that were still predominantly rural. It is easy to imagine, then, how this sort of image would capture the American viewer's fancy. Indeed, its second printing in the 1840s indicates that its appeal was widespread and hinted, as Krimmel scholar Anneliese Harding suggests, at "the power that the mental image of starting anew further West held for most Americans" (Harding, John Lewis Krimmel, 156).
Certainly emblematic of Krimmel's output, "Returned From Market" also showcases the exceptional mezzotinting of John Sartain, another icon of nineteenth century American art. Though his career peaked years after Krimmel's, this later issue gave him a chance to improve upon the earlier line engraving, mimicking more closely the painter's intended sense of light and tone. Lauded as the "father of mezzotint engraving" in the United States, Sartain was the patriarch of a family of artists and engravers that left great impact on the art communities in Philadelphia and, indeed, the United States. An immigrant from England, Sartain built his reputation as a master printmaker with his engravings after such important artists as Thomas Sully, John Neagle, Peter Rothermel, George Caleb Bingham, Emanuel Leutze, F.O.C. Darley, Christian Schussele, and here John L. Krimmel. $1,450
"Henry Clay." Philadelphia: John Sartain, ca. 1850. 17 x 11 1/2. Mezzotint by J. Sartain. Very good condition.
A full length portrait of Henry Clay (1777-1852), issued around mid-century at the time of Clay's "Compromise of 1850." This was the culmination of Clay's Senatorial career, a futile attempt to keep the Union from falling apart over the issue of slavery. The print is based on an earlier image drawn by James Wise (Sartain credits to image to being based on "Original Drawings and Daguerreotypes" probably to avoid any royalty issues) which was issued during Clay's 1844 presidential campaign (cf. above). The images are very close, with Clay presented in the classic pose of an ancient orator, in a setting with globe, leather bound books, pillars and draped hanging. The only significant different is that the papers upon which Clay's left hand rests, which in the original were unidentified, here has the engraved title "Compromise." $450
Emanuel Leutze. "The Angel's Whisper." Philadelphia: Bradley & Co; Rochester R. H. Curran, 1858. 16 x 12. Mezzotint by John Sartain. Minor tear in bottom margin expertly repaired. Otherwise, very good condition.
This print is after a painting by Emanuel Leutze. Born in Germany in 1816, Leutze is known mainly as an historical and portrait painter. He and his family emigrated to the United States and settled in Philadelphia, where he studied painting under John Rubens Smith. In 1840 Leutze traveled back to Germany to study under Lessing. He lived in Germany for twenty years before returning to America in 1859 to paint "Westward the Course of the Empire," an allegorical-historical mural for the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. Leutze here shows a mastery of the more intimate, tender moments of human experience. In his engraved interpretation, Sartain beautifully captures the range of tone that makes the composition so successful.
Below the image, an excerpt for the Irish poet Samuel Lover's ballad, "The Angel's Whisper," lends a title to the print and enhances its tender effect. Celebrating both virtuosity of motherhood and the saintliness of children, this print is a beautiful example of Victorian sensibility and sentiment. $325
Thomas Seir Cummings. "Henry Pratt." Mezzotint by John Sartain. 11 x 8 3/4. No date or place, but probably Philadelphia in the 1830s-40s. Excellent condition.
Henry Pratt was the second owner of Lemon Hill, one of the finest houses in Philadelphia in the first half of the nineteenth century. $125
Ferdnand T.L. Boyle. "Frank P. Blair, Jr." Philadelphia: Henry Sartain, 1862. Mezzotint by John Sartain. Proof copy before title, signed by both artist and engraver. Facsimile signature of Blair at lower right corner. 21 1/2 x 15 1/8 (image) plus wide margins. Some time toning and abrasion and chips to surface. A strong printing. Overall, good condition.
Born in Kentucky, Francis Preston Blair, Jr. (1821-1875) was a member of the famous Blair family of Maryland. During the 1850s, he became powerful in the St. Louis political and banking circles which were gaining ascendancy over the older agrarian ranks in the western and southern parts of the state. This print was made when Blair was in congress, where he served during the first half of the Civil War. Here the artist makes good use of props: Blair is posed beside a bust of Andrew Jackson, a strong unionist, and a book by Sen. Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri rests on the table. The congressman is surrounded by symbols of enlightenment such as a lamp, books, and maps, and of elegance, such as rich textiles and strong pilasters. $450
'From an original daguerreotype.' "Lieut. General U.S. Grant." Philadelphia: Wm. Smith, [1864-5]. Mezzotint by John Sartain. 21 x 15 1/2. Very good condition.
In March of 1864 after Grant's success in Tennessee around Chattanooga Ulysses Simpson Grant (1822-1885) was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General. He was soon to be transferred to the eastern front where he took over command of the Army of the Potomac. The face and head used in this portrait probably was taken from a photograph as the credit alleges. The body, his horse, and ordnance surrounding Grant was taken from a previous print done in 1848 which was a portrait of Major General Zachery Taylor. Demand for portraits of the seemingly frequent new Union leaders was filled in this case by altering an older steel plate and using the elements that were still useful. Depiction of the soldiers in the background was changed to show uniforms of the Civil War rather than the Mexican War; however, the older design of the cannon at bottom right was retained. Still, a handsome and strong portrayal of Grant the new commander and future president. $425
Christian Schussele. "The Iron Worker and King Solomon." Philadelphia: Bradley & Co., 1876. 17 3/4 x 25 5/8. Steel mezzotint by John Sartain. Excellent condition. Wide margins.
This strong, handsome mezzotint faithfully represents the painting by Christian Schussele, commissioned in 1864 by Philadelphia industrialist, Joseph Harrison Jr. The image concerns an iron worker who, though uninvited, appeared at the feast to celebrate the completion of the King Solomon's temple at Jerusalem. The worker was nearly turned away until he pointed out his important role as the toolmaker for the other artisans who built the temple at Jerusalem. Upon realizing the truth of the iron worker's words, King Solomon gave him a place of honor beside his throne. Harrison's fortune was made in steel manufacturing, so the story had a special significance to him. The symbol of the iron worker was also an important one for the industrial northern states, whose heavy manufacturing capability allowed the North to win the Civil War and preserve the Union. This striking print is one of the best examples of John Sartain's mezzotinting, and it is a classic American image. $600
J.R. Lambdin. "John Tyler. President of the United States." Philadelphia: William Smith, ca. 1880. Mezzotint by John Sartain. 20 1/2 x 14 3/8. Strong impression. Wide margins. Very good condition.
This print may first have been published in the 1840s, when Tyler was in office, but this issue was published by William Smith in the later part of the nineteenth century. $450
John Sartain. "Rev. John Chambers. Pastor of the First Independent Church, Broad St. and Efficient Advocate of the Cause of Temperance." Philadelphia, ca. 1860. Mezzotint by John Sartain. 9 3/8 x 7. Strong impression. Trimmed at bottom margin, but with full title. Very good condition.
A typically fine mezzotint portrait by John Sartain. Known as the 'father of mezzotint engraving' in the United States, Sartain is known particularly for his very fine portraits. This image shows John Chambers, a Philadelphia pastor involved in the Temperance movement. $85
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