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.