Christian Schuessele. “Lafayette.”
Philadelphia: P.S. Duval, 1851. 18 5/8 x 13 ½ (image boundary lines). Chromolithograph by P.S. Duval. Upper left and right hand margin corners chipped and filled; upper left corner curving image boundary lines expertly in-painted. Left hand margin trimmed just beyond image boundary lines, but image is intact. Faint blotches in lower left hand margin. Print has been professionally conserved and mounted to tinted archival paper backing. Else, very good condition with extremely strong and bright coloring. Print is very scarce. Marzio, The Democratic Art. pp; 26; 282. Piola, Philadelphia on Stone, p.106.
An outstanding example of the art of printing in colors and one of the best chromolithographs ever printed by Duval using thirteen lithographic stones. This print, and its mate of George Washington, were drawn on stone by Christian Schuessele and were praised at the time by the Philadelphia Public Ledger as “the most perfect specimens of this new art issued in this country.” Peter Marzio states: “Schuessele overlapped the tones in each portrait to create the range of subtle color variations found in oil paintings. They were so unusual that…these looked like “finished paintings.” Christian Schussele (1824-1879) worked as a printmaker in steel engraving, chromolithography, and wood engraving in Philadelphia after arriving in America from Germany in the mid-nineteenth century. He was most successful and famous as a painter whose works were issued as prints. In the 1850s he turned to patriotic painting.
From about 1835 until his retirement in 1869, Duval dominated the city’s energetic printmaking scene publishing numerous lithographic portraits, periodical illustrations, and historical works. Duval was a prominent local citizen and a spirited businessman, being the only lithographer to be admitted to the city’s Board of Trade before the Civil War. He was also an innovator, the first to adapt steam power to the running of all his presses, and one of the early enthusiasts for the possibilities of printing in color. A final key ingredient to Duval’s success was his ability to attract the very best lithographic artists to work for him.