Benjamin West. “William Penn’s Treaty with the Indians, 1682.” From Sartain’s Magazine.
Philadelphia: ca. 1850. 4 1/2 x 6 1/8. Engraving by J. Bannister. Hand color. Very good condition.
Though a fictitious view, Benjamin West’s famous painting of William Penn signing a treaty with the Indians for the purchase of Pennsylvania, that legend says took place in what is now Kensington, is one of the most copied of all scenes of Philadelphia. West’s scene was accepted throughout Europe and America as an accurate portrayal of this legendary event, and it has become one of the most influential images in Pennsylvania iconography. The print shows an honest looking William Penn trading goods for the rights to the land, the Indians and Europeans all appearing most civilized. The idealized figures of the Indians were modeled from statues in the Vatican when West was studying in Rome. While completely inaccurate, the several buildings shown under construction in the background were intended to imply the prosperity of Pennsylvania, the same intent of the many ships seen riding in the Delaware off in the distance. An influential and fascinating eighteenth century image.