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 Dodd. "...the Gallant Defense of Captn. Pearson in his Majesty's Ship SERAPIS, and the COUNTESS OF SCARBOROUGH Arm'd Ship Captn. Piercy, against Paul Jones's Squadron, whereby a valuable Fleet from the Baltic were prevented from falling into the hands of the Enemy..." London: John Harris, 1 Decr. 1781. Engraving by J. Peltro. 12 x 17 1/2. Early hand color. Trimmed to platemarks with a small margin added at bottom. Stable. Very good appearance. Not in Cresswell book but in dissertation #526. Olds, item 76; E. Newbold Smith, item 16; Trumpy, Beverley Robinson Collection, item 198.
One of a number of British prints showing the battle between John Paul Jones' Bon Homme Richard and H.M.S. Serapis. The title does not name Jones' ship and calls attention to the fact that Jones led a squadron against the single British war ship. Subsequent historians have agreed that the strategic victory went to Captain Pearson because he prevented the Baltic fleet from being captured. Statistics on either side of the text show that Jones had twice as many ships and twice as many guns as his adversary. American historians counter that fact with the assertion that British shot and powder was a better quality than that had by the poorly funded Americans. This scene, based on Dodd's famous painting, shows the moment when the Alliance, captained by a jealous and half-mad Frenchman, poured a broadside into both ships when the Bon Homme Richard and Serapis were bound together. This print is a re-engraving of an earlier one by Lerpiniere & Fittler which is larger. B.F. Leizalt used the same image to produce a vue d'optique print of this event. A classic image of an important sea battle. $1,800
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
Asher B. Durand. "The Capture of Major Andre." New York: American Art Union, 1846. 13 x 17 3/4. Figures engraved by Alfred Jones; landscape engraved by James Smillie & Hinshelwood. Large margins. Later hand color. Very good condition. Ref.: Mann, p. 42.
By mid-nineteenth century the story of John Andre's arrest as a spy in the Benedict Arnold treason plot had reached mythic proportions along with the deification of Washington and Horatio Alger fiction. The plans for West Point were found in the British officer's boot. Andre had offered his captors a bribe, but as American patriots, the three irregulars refused and turned him in to the American army. Later debunkers of American history would say they were ruffians and Andre had not offered them enough, but at this time, 1846, the capture was a lesson in patriotism. $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
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
F.O.C. Darley (1822-1888). "The Last Words of Captain Nathan Hale, the Hero-Martyr of the American Revolution." Cincinnati: Henry Howe, 1861. From Adventures and Achievements of Americans by Henry Howe. 9 1/2 x 12 (paper). Engraving by Alexander Ritchie. Partial hand color. Two small chips in paper along top edge and tear in upper right corner repaired. Light staining in margins. Else, good condition. $175
A dramatic print of the hanging of Nathan Hale from a publication that contained a total of twelve prints illustrating the heroism, self-reliance, genius and enterprise of the American people. Born in Philadelphia, Felix Darley was one of America's first well known illustrators. He worked in both Philadelphia and New York before eventually settling in Claymont, Delaware. There he worked for the producing drawings for prints, magazines, and more than 200 books.
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
"Declaration of Independence in Congess July 4th: 1776." Subtitle: "The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America." Curving around the bottom, "The Great Centennial Memorial." Two portraits: full length of Washington in center and bust of Thomas Jefferson at base. At the base of the grapevine surround are a pair of quill pens with the credit reading, "The Original Designed and Executed by Gilman R. Russell Prof. of Penmanship." Between the portraits is the copyright notice of 1866 entered by Gilman Russell in the District Court of the East Dist. of Pennsylvania." Lithograph. 25 3/4 x 17 3/4 (full sheet). Deckle edge on all four sides of the sheet. Not in Bidwell.
Printed in the year after the end of the American Civil War, this profound copy among many of the Declaration of Independence is beautiful in design and thought. Featuring both Washington and Jefferson in portraiture, angels and flags along the top and celebratory grapevines around the bottom encircling credit to Gilman R. Russell, who was a professor of Penmanship. During the War Prof. Russell had created another folio sheet to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation. $4,500
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