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REMARKS ON THE EARLY AMERICAN ENGRAVINGS AND THE CAMBRIDGE
PRESS IMPRINTS (1640–1692) In the Library of the American Antiquarian Society.
BY NATHANIEL PAINE.
“A Descriptive Catalogue of an Exhibition of Early Engravings in America,” given at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in the winter of 1904-5, suggested to the writer an examination of the engravings hanging on the walls of Antiquarian Hall at Worcester. As a result of this examination it was found that over two hundred engravings, lithographs and other works of a similar nature were suspended from the walls and alcoves, some of which were of more than ordinary interest, and it is proposed to call attention to a few of these which are of special value on account of their rarity. Of these perhaps the most interesting are the mezzotint portraits of four Indian chiefs engraved by J. Simon.
The late John R. Bartlett in a notice of these prints gives the name of the engraver as John Simmonds, but the name on the prints is very clearly J. Simon. There was a John Simon who came to London in the reign of Queen Anne, who was an engraver of some merit and may have engraved them, but in the only biographical notice of him that has come to my notice no mention is made of these prints. It was in 1710 that Major Peter Schuyler took four Indian chiefs to England where they created quite a sensation. They were received with great ceremonies by the Queen
and the Indians presented her with a set of wampum. The original paintings were said to have been painted for the Queen.
The engravings were published by subscription in November, 1710, and are now quite rare.
Those owned by the Society are in good condition and are as follows, all having the imprint:
J Verelst, Pinx. and J Simon, Fecit. Printed & sold by John King at ye Globe in ye Poultrey, London. (Size of plates 154 x 107 in.)
Tee Yee Neen Ho Ga Ron
Emperour of the Six Nations
King of the Maquas
King of the Generethgarich
King of the River Nation Another series of mezzotints are nine engraved by Peter Pelham (born in England in 1684) who came to Boston in 1726–1727 and died there in 1751. His principal work was in the mezzotint style and he engraved a large number of portraits of men of celebrity. Among them one of Charles the First after Kneller, Peter Paul Rubens, Oliver Cromwell and others of like note.
Pelham was the earliest mezzotint engraver in New England, he was also a painter, and one of his portraits, that of Cotton Mather, is in the hall of the Antiquarian Society. The first mezzotint engraving made in New England was without doubt Pelham's print from the Mather portrait. From the following advertisement in “The Boston Gazette and Weekly Journal” of Tuesday, September 20, 1748, it appears that he had other occupations than that of painter or engraver.
"Mr. Pelham's Writing and Arithmetick School, near the Town House (during the Winter) will be open from Candle Light till nine in the Evening as usual, for the benefit of those Employ" in Business all the Day: and at his Dwelling House near the Quaker Meeting in Lindell's Row. All Persons may be supplied with the best Virginia Tobacco, cut, spun into the best Pigtail, and all other sorts, also Snuff at the cheapest Rates."
In another issue of the Gazette of an earlier date he announces :
"At Mr. Pelham's House near the Town Dock is to be sold sundry sorts of Household Goods (for Cash) very Cheap, he having Intention to break up Housekeeping. N. B. Attendance will be given from Eight till Twelve o'clock every morning, but not after that Hour on account of his preparing for bis School in the Afternoon, which continues to keep as heretofore."
Pelham married in 1748 Mrs. Mary Singleton, widow of Richard Copley, and her son John Singleton Copley, the eminent portrait painter resided with her.
In the “Boston News Letter” for September 17th, 1751, Pelham advertises the print of Thomas Hollis.
"To be sold, at his home near the Quaker Meeting House, a print in Mezzotinting of Thomas Hollis, late of London, Merchant, : : done from a curious whole length Picture by Joseph Highmore in London, and placed in the College Hall in Cambridge. Also sundry other Prints at said Pelham's."
In the exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts about twenty of his portraits were on exhibition; of these the American Antiquarian Society has the following:
The Reverend Charles Brockwell. A: M. Late of Catharine Hall in Cambridge, his Majesties Chaplain in Boston N: E. P. Pelham pint: et fecit 1750 - Sold by P: Pelham in Boston,
Mather Byles A. M. et V:D. M. Ecclesiæ apud Bostonum Nov-Anglorum Pastor. | P. Pelham ad vivum pinz. & fecit. |
The Reverend Henry Caner. A: M. – Minister of Kings Chapel Boston.- | J: Smibert pinx: - P: Pelham fecit. 1750 - Sold by P: Pelham in Boston.
The Reverend Benjamin Colman D. D. | J. Smibert Pinc. - P. Pelham Fecit. | 1735.
The Reverend Timothy Cutler. D. D. ' - of Christ Church Boston N-E. P. Pelham pinx: et fecit. 1750. Sold by P: Pelham in Boston
Thomas Hollis late of London Mercht. a most generous Benefactor to Harvard College, in N. E. having founded two Professorships and ten Scholarships in the said College, given a fine Apparatus for Experimental | Philosophy, & increased the Library with a large Number of valuable Books &c. | Jos. Highmore pinx. 1722. – Ob: 1731. Æt. 71. — P: Pelham ab origin: fecit et excudt. 1751. /
Sir William Pepperrell Bart, Colonel of one of his Majesty's Regiments - 1 of Foot, who was Lieutenant General and Commander in Chief of the American — Forces Employ'd in the Expedition against the Island of Cape Breton which was | happily Reduced to the Obedience of his Britanick Majesty June the 17, 1745— J: Smibert Pinx: 1 ... | P: Pelham fecit et ex.: 1747. |
Jno: Greenwood Pinx. — P. Pelham fecit. | Thomas Prince A. M. Quintus Ecclesiae Australis Bostonii Novanglorum Pastor, e Collegii Harvardini | Cantabrigice Curatoribus, Samuelis Armigeri Filius et Thomæ AM. denati Pater Printed for & Sold by J. Buck, at ye Spectacles in Queenstreet Boston. 1750.[
The Reverend Joseph Sewall D. D. - P. Pelham Fecit. |
J. Smibert, Pinz.
Other Pelham prints on exhibition at the Art Museum were portraits of Cotton Mather, Rev. William Hooper, Thomas Prince, Gov. William Shirley and Rev. John Moorhead.
Mr. Frederick L. Gay of Brookline has had twelve of the Pelham prints reproduced in fac-simile, (only sixty of each being printed) for private distribution, and all were marked as issued by the Pelham Club to indicate that they were not originals.
Another engraving of great interest and rarity is entitled:
A South East View of ye Great Town of Boston in New England, America. It is dedicated
“To Peter Faneuil, Esq., This Prospect of the Town of Boston is Humbly Dedicated, By Your Most obedt. Humble Servt.
William Price. 1743." It is a large engraving printed in three sections, the whole measuring 231 by 284 inches. The original of this view was engraved at London in 1725 by John Harris from & drawing by William Burges and was dedicated to Gov. Shute. The only known original is said to be in the British Museum; a copy was in Boston it is said in 1830 in the City Hall but disappeared at the time the building was taken down. The engraving owned by the Antiquarian Society is a reproduction of the original with changes to bring it up to date 1743 at which time it was printed by William Price, Printer and Map seller in what is now Washington Street and Cornhill Court. Five copies of this are now known, of which that of this Society is believed to be in the best condition. The other four copies are owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston Public Library, Dr. James B. Ayer of Boston, and Herbert Coles of Brookline.
John Harris the engraver of the original is probably the one mentioned in the Dictionary of National Biography as an engraver of works on Architecture who flourished from 1680 to 1740. He engraved “The Encampment of the Royal Army on Hounslow Heath in 1696,” and also one, “Ships of the Royal Navey” both of which are scarce. Mr. Justin Winsor believed the drawing for the original was made by William Burges and sent to England to be engraved under Price's direction.
There is also a very poor copy of Bakewell's View of New York in 1746, taken from the Burges's View of 1717. The only known copy of the original is an imperfect one belonging to the New York Historical Society which has been reproduced on a small scale in J. Fiske's Dutch and Quaker