After a painting by John Singleton Copley. "Defending the Flag."
No place or date given, but style and printing technique suggests American done between 1855 and 1875. Anonymous engraving. 19 x 23 (plate marks) 26 1/4 x 32 (full sheet). Excellent condition.
This unusual print is a direct copy from John Singleton Copley's famous painting "The Death of Major Peirson" executed 1782-84. The original oil painting, now in the Tate Gallery, London, celebrated an incident in the town square of St. Helier on the Channel Isle of Jersey. French forces had almost taken the town and island when a young Major Francis Peirson rallied the British forces, counterattacked, and drove the invaders off. At the moment of victory, the youthful officer was killed, and this picture showed him being carried from the field amid the excitement and terror of battle.
An anonymous American engraver took the same image and transformed it into a patriotic statement by changing the Union Jack to the American colonial flag and entitling the print "Defending the Flag." Other more subtle changes were wrought by inscribing "U.S." on the drum in the left foreground and removing the background statue of George III from under the tassel on the flag. Printing style and paper size suggest a later date rather than an earlier one, but we find no other documentation on this print.