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The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.Historical Prints

Prints of Historical Figures


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Earlom: Continence of Scipio
Richard Earlom after Anthony van Dyck. "The Continence of Scipio." London: John Boydell, 1766. 17 1/4 x 27. Engraving by J. Miller. Narrow but complete borders within plate marks. Strong impression. Very good condition.

In the eighteenth century many images of virtuous figures from history were popular for their moral examples. This fine image is just such a one. Scipio Africanus (237-183 B.C.E.), a Roman General of the Punic Wars is exalted,

Here the 24-year-old Roman virtuously returns one of his prisoners-a noble and beautiful Carthaginian maiden-to her parents and fiancé, a benevolent act which is further magnified by the addition of money to her dowry of golden treasures, brought to Scipio for her ransom.
Ref: Rosenblum, Transformations in Late Eighteenth Century Art, 57. $600



Prints from Delaplaine's Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished American Characters. Philadelphia: Rogers and Esler Printers, 1815-. Line engravings with stipple.

Joseph Delaplaine wanted to publish portraits and biographies of great Americans to counter the current arguments that people and institutions in America were inferior to those in Europe. He included his contemporaries as well as early voyagers to reflect on the strong and adventurous spirits that were involved in the founding of the New World and the American Republic.



Havtery: Important figures
Joseph Patrick Haverty, R.H.A. [Important Figures in the Catholic Emancipation]. Lithograph. 14 1/2 x 15 (full sheet). London: Molteno and Graves, July 1829. Chine appliqué, as issued. In margins, two small tears along bottom edge, one small tear at left edge. Light crease through upper right corner of image. Else, good condition.

Grouping some of the more influential figures in Ireland's politics and culture, Joseph Patrick Haverty's portrait print captures the growing national consciousness of the island state. Populated by Thomas Wyse (diplomat, MP in Parliament, ambassador to Greece), Michael Staunton (editor, Dublin Morning Register), Reverend Francis L'Estrange (chaplain to Daniel O'Connell), Stephen Coppinger (prominent member of Catholic Association), Richard Lalor Shiel (Orator, Catholic leader) and Thomas Furlong (poet), the image illustrates a collaborative effort to elevate Ireland's status in the British Empire. Supporting Irish politician Daniel O'Connell, this group of statesmen, literary figures, and clergy were instrumental in the passage of the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. Though it effectively disenfranchised peasants by raising the property requirement for voting, it allowed, for the first time, for the election of Catholic officials as members of Parliament.

By contradicting the Anglican Constitution, the Emancipation marked a landmark in Catholic participation in British politics. As the accomplishment of an Irish politician, it accompanied a parallel movement promoting Irish visual and literary arts with uniquely Irish subjects. Supported by newspaper publishers and other public figures in Ireland's cities, Haverty and other artists created images that formed, for the first time, a national canon of visual art. Within that context, this print exemplifies both political and artistic progress and is a fine piece of Irish history. $650



Neagle: Henry Clay
John Sartain after John Neagle. "HENRY CLAY." Philadelphia: W. Bender & Co., 1843. Mezzotint. 24 x 16 1/4 (full sheet). Laid on board and faint mat burn, otherwise very good condition. Framed.

This powerful engraving depicting Henry Clay is after a painting by John Neagle. As the subtitle explains, the portrait was painted at the sitter's home at Ashland, Kentucky by request of the Philadelphia Whigs. As such it is a most accomplished campaign portrait that is replete with allegorical allusions. To Clay's left is the standard pillar of strength and the curtain of elegance is transformed into an American flag. He gestures toward a globe which is turned to South America, for which Clay had much sympathy. At his right are symbols of the economic interests that Clay would have his Whig Party protect from British and European rivals: a shuttle for textiles, an anvil for iron and steel, a plow for agriculture, a cow for husbandry, and a ship for commerce. Clay's American System promoted development and protective tariffs for these American institutions. Below are quotations from two speeches, "The colors that float from the mast-head should be the credentials of our seamen" and "I shall stand out with a spirit unconquered, whilst life endures, ready to second the exertions of the people in the cause of Liberty, the Union, and the National Prosperity." At bottom, right is a facsimile of his signature.

This print is based on a large painting by Neagle that hangs in the Philadelphia Union Club. It is generally considered to be the best likeness of Clay, and Clay himself thought so too. He wrote to Neagle that "in the judgment of my family and friends that you have sketched the most perfect likeness of me that has been hitherto made. My opinion coincides with theirs I think you have happily delineated the character, as well as the physical appearance of your subject." Ref. Bernard Reilly, American Political Prints 1766-1876. A Catalog of the Collections in the Library of Congress. (Boston, 1991): 1843-7. $850



Henry Clay
James Wise. "Henry Clay." Philadelphia: James Wise, 1844. Mezzotint by John Sartain. 17 x 11 1/2. Some wear at edges of margins. Otherwise, excellent condition.

This full length portrait was issued during the 1844 presidential campaign, which was Henry Clay's (1777-1852) third and last time to be nominated by the Whigs. Fractious debates over the annexation of Texas and Oregon, as well as the policies on slavery had torn the Whig party to pieces, and the election was lost to James K. Polk (1795-1849). Little is known about James Wise (fl. 1843-1860) who worked as a portrait and miniature painter in New Orleans in 1843 and Charleston, S.C. in 1844-5. He also worked in Virginia and St. Joseph, Missouri, according to Croce and Wallace. John Sartain (1808-1897) also engraved a portrait of John C. Calhoun after this artist. Here is classic portraiture conveyed through the elegance that was so well expressed through mezzotint engraving. In a handsome suit, backed by solid pillars and surrounded by books, writing materials, and a terrestrial globe, "The Great Pacificator" stands in the pose of an ancient orator. $650



"Henry Clay." Hartford: E.B. & E.C. Kellogg; New York: Kelloggs & Thayer; Buffalo: D. Needham, ca. 1844. 11 x 8 3/4. Lithograph with original hand color. Wide margins. Stain at top margin edge, not affecting image. Overall, very good condition. $250



Canvass Back
"Canvass Back." From Henry L. Stephens. The Comic Natural History of the Human Race. Philadelphia: Samuel Robinson, 1851. Printed in colors by Rosenthal. Ca. 7 x 6. Title trimmed, else very good condition.

An amusing portrait of the painter, Abraham Woodside. From a very interesting series showing well-known individuals and types of mid-nineteenth century Philadelphians. These people are depicted in various animal forms, but with human heads, illustrating the individual's occupation, personality, etc. The people lampooned in these illustrations came from many walks of life, and include politicians, artists, musicians, and businessmen. These prints are wonderful examples of early chromolithography, with great whimsical appeal. $85
GoGo to page with listing of more of the Stephens portraits



After photograph by Rockwood. "John Hall." New York: A.H. Ritchie. 10 1/2 x 8 7/8 (image). Engraved by A.H. Ritchie. Chine appliqué. Light water stain across bottom of image. Else very good condition.

One of the best historical print makers of the mid-nineteenth century, Alexander Hay Ritchie is particularly known for the clarity and richness of his engravings. John Hall, born in Ireland in 1829, was pastor of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City and in 1882 became the first Chancellor of New York University. $125



Paul Auguste Rajon. [Alfred, Lord Tennyson]. 15 3/8 x 11 1/2 (image). Engraved and signed in pencil by Gustave Mercier. Chine appliqué. Paul Adolphe Rajon (1843-1888) was a French painter and printmaker, who began his career as a photographer while studying in Paris. Devoting himself to etching, his works were mainly reproductions of paintings by contemporary artists or by Old Masters, although he also produced original portrait etchings of contemporary writers including Tennyson. He enjoyed financial and critical success in France and England, and, through his acquaintance with the American print dealer Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) in New York, his fame also spread to the United States. Gustave Mercier (1858-1898) was a French-born engraver who also worked in New York, where he died.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) is often described as the English poet most representative of the Victorian age. He succeeded William Wordsworth as Poet Laureate of England in 1850. Tennyson is buried in the Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. $175



Rosenthal: Daniel Webster
After the original daguerreotype by Josiah Hawes, Boston. "Daniel Webster." Philadelphia: William Campbell, 1897. 19 x 15 1/2. Mezzotint by Max Rosenthal. Signed in plate by the engraver. Edition: 50. Very good condition.

A handsome mezzotint portrait by Philadelphia artist/etcher Max Rosenthal. Rosenthal (1833-1918), born in Russian Poland, studied lithography in Paris at 13, and emigrated to Philadelphia in 1849 or 1850. An active lithographer working with his brothers Louis, Morris and Simon, he also taught mezzotint engraving and oil painting in his later years. Rosenthal also issued a number of large attractive portraits in the early twentieth century such as this mezzotint which is after a 19th century daguerreotype. $450



RW Emerson
William Henry Furness, Jr. "Emerson." Mezzotint engraving by Emily Sartain from an unfinished portrait. 16 x 12 (plate mark). Wide margins. Handwritten in pencil is the text that was printed on copies after copyright. Very good condition.

William Henry Furness, Jr., (1821-1867), son of famed Unitarian minister Rev. William Henry Furness (1802-1896) and brother to renowned architect Frank Furness (1839-1912), was born in Philadelphia, gained fame as a portraitist, studied for a while in Europe, and lived alternately in Boston and Philadelphia, where he often exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Daughter of John Sartain (1808-1897) who immigrated to Philadelphia from England and is known as "the father of mezzotint engraving" in the United States. Emily Sartain (1841-1927) was an artist of considerable skill who produced a quantity of fine prints and served as principal of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (which later merged into the present Moore College of Art and Design) for 33 years, from 1886 until 1919.

Furness worked on his portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), finishing just the figure of the standing subject but none of the background. His father commissioned Sartain to create this engraving in 1871, and sent a copy to his good friend Emerson. Emerson replied in a letter of December 17, 1871, that "It was certainly a kinder & more desirable figure & expression than I fear any photograph would give me," and went onto say that his wife found it "not only a good picture, but an excellent likeness," in which opinion his daughter concurred. $225



John Hay
"John Hay." [Title in facsimile Signature]. Steel engraving. 18 x 15 (image) plus platemarks and margins. Credit to Max Rosenthal, Philadelphia, 1906. Excellent condition. Strong impression.

John M. Hay (1838-1905) was well known as a writer of literary works of poetry and fiction; however, he was a very serious writer in his historical and analytical works. During the Civil War he was a secretary to Abraham Lincoln along with John Nicolay, and the two wrote a ten volume biography of Lincoln in 1890. Later as Secretary of State he negotiated treaties with China, the first complete Canadian boundary treaty, and treaties leading to completion of the Panama Canal. He enjoyed a close relationship with Henry Adams the American historian and political theorist. This strong portrait conveys his reputation one year after his death. $400




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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. Last updated July 14, 2021