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The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.Historical Prints

American Political Prints
--Portraits--


This page: [ Portraits | Popular prints of the Presidents ]
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PORTRAITS


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Genl. Jonathan Williams. From the Analectic Magazine. Philadelphia: M. Thomas, ca. 1813-15. Engraving by Gimbrede. 3 1/2 x 3. Very good condition.

Jonathan Williams (1751-1815) was an American businessman, military figure, politician and writer. He became Chief of Engineers of the Army Corps of Engineers, was the first superintendent of the United States Military Academy, and was elected to the Fourteenth United States Congress. $125



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



Schaus Clay
Lafosse after Brady's daguerreotype. "Henry Clay." New York: William Schaus, 1861. 24 7/8 x 19 1/2. Lithograph by Lafosse. Printed by Delarue, Paris. Full margins. Very good condition.

A rare, very large portrait of Clay. Published by William Schaus, who had started working for Goupil & Co, but then set up on his own in New York City. Many of his prints, like this one, were produced in France, for the quality of these prints was generally higher than American prints of the day. The image is based on a photograph by Brady, and it is beautifully drawn onto the lithographic stone by Lafosse. The print is a bust portrait of a young Clay, and the scale is unlike most other portraits of the nineteenth century. A most usual and rare print. $475



Popular Prints of the Presidents

Van BurenSpacerWilliam Henry Harrison

Presidential portraits by popular print makers. Ca. 1840-1870. Lithographs. Very good condition.

During the nineteenth century, lithographic publishers such as Currier & Ives, from New York and the Kellogg firm, from Hartford, and many others elsewhere, issued thousands of images in separately issued prints. These prints were intended as frameable art for the American people. Among the more popular subjects for these prints were portraits of the Presidents, appropriate subjects to grace one's home or office. This type of popular portrait began, however, earlier in 1828 when the Pendleton lithographic company of Boston issued a series of portraits, of the first five Presidents, for taken from paintings by Gilbert Stuart done for John Doggett. This set, called the "American Kings," was the first uniform group of popular prints of all the Presidents. The prints were very popular and created a strong market for small folio lithographs of the Presidents. This market was answered over the next decades by a number of other lithographic publishers. These portraits, of current and past Presidents, would have graced many American homes


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This page: [ Portraits | Popular prints of the Presidents ]
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©The Philadelphia Print Shop Last updated July 14, 2021