Benjamin West. “William Penn’s Treaty with the Indians, when he founded the Province of Pensylvania [sic] in North America 1681.”
London: John Boydell, 1775. 17 1/2 x 23 3/4. Engraving by John Hall. On laid paper. Narrow margins trimmed to plate mark. Diagonal tear into image upper right; two tears in title area with one into image; horizontal tear in image in men’s coat above chest. Tear in sky upper right hand side. Small portion of image upper right filled and expertly in painted. Some loss of paper surface in bottom margin due to insect damage. Print has been professionally conserved, all tears expertly repaired. Print mounted to an archival backing. Strong strike. Else, good condition. Snyder: 238; Fowble: 130.
Legend has it that William Penn signed a treaty with the Indians for his lands in 1681 under the Treaty Elm, located in what is now Kensington. Though the scene is apocryphal, Benjamin West’s famous painting of the event is one of the most copied of all pictures of Philadelphia. The painting was commissioned by William Penn, and it was finished in 1771. This is an example of the first print made from that painting, published by John Boydell in London in 1775. West’s depiction 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.