Charles Willson Peale. “A N.W. View of the State House in Philadelphia taken 1778.”
Philadelphia: Columbian Magazine, . Restrike most likely by Desilver in 1840s. 4 3/4 x 6 3/4. Engraving by James Trenchard on wove paper. Snyder: 113A. A/A
One of the new formats of publishing that appeared in America shortly after the Revolution was the illustrated magazine. Publications of this type were intended to emulate the success of similar ventures in England, including Gentleman’s Magazine and London Magazine. A number of the illustrations in these American magazines were views of Philadelphia and its surrounding countryside. These are amongst the earliest printed images of specific scenes in and around the city. The first American monthly magazine was the Columbian Magazine, which began publication in Philadelphia in 1787. This is the first view of Philadelphia to appear in the magazine, and it was based on a study of the State House made by Charles Willson Peale for his portrait of Conrad A. Gerard, the first French minister to the Americans. The print was engraved by James Trenchard, the editor and one of the publishers of the Columbian Magazine. A native of New Jersey, Trenchard came to Philadelphia in 1777, and there learned his craft from James Smither. Peale was in the army with Trenchard, who commissioned him to design the first views to appear in the Columbian Magazine. It is interesting to note the long, single story stables that flank the main structure. These buildings predated City Hall and Congress Hall which were erected soon after this print was published.