< Back    Next >

At the time when George Washington took command of American forces in 1775 at the outset of the American Revolution, he was virtually unknown outside the colonies, and even within the colonies he was but one of many patriots supporting the cause.  By the time of his death in 1799, less than 25 years later, he was known throughout the western world for his primary leadership role in establishing the United States of America.  During this time, portrait artists flocked to Washington to paint his likeness, and engravings of Washington were published far and wide.  Some of the earliest engravings look nothing like Washington because the artists and engravers had no image of him to base their likeness on; thus they simply made his likeness up.  Others engraved from paintings of Washington by John Trumbull or Charles Willson Peale, who themselves made multiple copies of their paintings.  Engravers copied other engravings, and thus there are groupings of early Washington engravings that are based on a particular early subject, such as those after Charles Willson Peale or Edward Savage.

By the 19th century, collectors began to collect and catalog the engravings of Washington, organizing them based on their rarity and the lineage of their likenesses. Scholars such as William Spohn Baker and Charles Henry Hart published books in the late 19th century that describe the examples they were aware of, assigning reference numbers to them.  Today, prints of Washington are referenced by these numbers, such as "Hart 81" or "Baker 34".  They also approximated their scarcity, with annotations such as "rare", "very rare", or "exceedingly rare".  Washington engravings that date to his lifetime, between 1775 and 1799, and the year of mourning in 1800, are especially sought after and difficult to locate.

Below are several examples of rare 18th century and early 19th century George Washington engravings held in the Rare Flags collection.


George Washington engraving after Charles Willson Peale General Washington.  London Pub'd April 11, 1788 by E. Hedges No. 92 Cornhill.   After Charles Willson Peale's 1776 portrait.  Listed in the Hampton Carson Collection of engraved portraits of General Washington as No. 64, "of the greatest rarity"; Baker No. 44, but unknown to Baker because the address was cut down, "rare"; Hart No. 52.

After:  Charles Willson Peale

Engraver:  Edward Hedges

Location:  London

Year: 1788

Reference: Carson No. 64; Hart No. 52; Baker No. 44


George Washington engraving by Amos Doolittle Gen. General Washington. Commander in chief of the Armies of the United States. Born Feb 11th 1732 O.S. Died December 17th 1799   After Joseph Wright.  Published as the frontispiece to "The Majesty and Morality of created Gods Illustrated and Improved" by Benjamin Trumbull, published in New Haven, Connecticut, 1800. Baker No. 81, "extremely rare"; Hart No. 145. Carson No. 145

After: Joseph Wright

Engraver: Amos Doolittle

Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Year: 1800

Reference: Carson No. 145; Hart No. 145; Baker No. 81


George Washington engraving by Grainger after Robertson Geo. Washington.  W. Grainger Sculpt, Published as the Act directs Oct. 25, 1794 By H. D. Symonds Paternoster Row.  After Archibald Robertson.  George Washington is President of the United States at this time, and is depicted in civilian dress.  Baker No. 164; Carson No. 338E; Hart No. 806.  Baker and Hart list this print as belonging to a book, "View of the United States. By W. Winterbottom. London, 1795".  The dimensions of the prints cited by Baker and Hart are small, indicating that they were only aware of the book printed versions of the Grainger prints.  This is a very rare full sheet printing with original wide margins, 14" x 10" unknown to Hart or Baker.

After: Archibald Robertson

Engraver: W. Grainger

Location: London

Year: 1794

Reference: Carson No. 338E; Hart No. 806; Baker No. 164


George Washington engraving after Edward Savage George Washington, Esqr. President of the United States of America.  From the Original Picture Printed in 1790 for the Philosophical Chamber, at the University of Cambridge, in Massachusetts.  Published Feb'y. 7, 1792 by E. Savage. No. 29 Charles Street, Middx. Hospital. Published by Edward Savage, who is also the portrait artist for this likeness.  Scholars are not certain if Savage actually engraved the portrait, or if an unnamed London engraver assisted or engraved the plate.  Hart No. 214; Baker No. 116 "very rare"; Carson No. 240.  This print is a superb impression with full, wide margins.

After: Edward Savage

Engraver: Edward Savage

Location: London

Year: 1792

Reference: Carson No. 240; Hart No. 214; Baker No. 116


George Washington engraving after Charles Willson Peale George Washington, Commandant en Chef des Armees Americaines, Ne en Virginie en 1733.  Se trouve a Paris, chez Aug. De St. Aubin, Graveur du Roi et de sa Bibliotheque, actuellement rue Therese Bute St Roch et a la Bibliotheque et chez Mr Cochin, Aux Galleries du Louvre A. P. D. R.  After Charles Willson Peale.  Engraved by Augstin St. Aubin, published by Nicolas Cochin, circa 1780. Baker No. 31 "rare"; Carson No. 46; Hart No. 48.

After: Charles Willson Peale

Engraver: Augustin St. Aubin

Location: Paris

Year: Circa 1780

Reference: Carson No. 46; Hart No. 48; Baker No. 31


George Washington engraving after John Trumbull General Washington. Painted by John Trumbull Esqe. Engraved by T. Cheesman. London. Published Augt. 1, 1796, by A. C. De Poggi. No. 91, New Bond Street.  After John Trumbull.  This engraving was supervised by Trumbull while he was in London along with John Jay to negotiate treaties with the British.  Upon his return, Trumbull gifted a copy of the engraving to Martha Washington, which still hangs in the entryway to Mount Vernon to this day.  This engraving differs from the examples cited in Baker, Hart and Carson in that this has a date of August 1, 1796, whereas other examples have different dates, no date, or no publisher information. (see Baker No. 141; Hart No. 105; Carson Nos. 279, 280, 281, 282, 283)

After: John Trumbull

Engraver: Thomas Cheesman

Location: London

Year: 1796

Reference: Carson 279, 280, 281, 282, 283; Hart No. 105; Baker No. 141)


George Washington engraving after Joseph Wright G. Washington President of the United States, The Battle of Prague A Favorite Sonate For The Piano Forte With Accompaniments, Boston Printed & Sold by Graupner No. 6 Franklin St.  After Joseph Wright.  A very rare complete set of sheet music dedicated to George Washington.  Baker noted that "only one impression has come under the notice of the writer [Baker]" and that the engraving of Washington is "from the Etching by Wright". Hart No. 153a, where Hart notes that the engraving is the same as Hart No. 153 which is a separate non-sheet music strike of this Washington engraving, accompanied by a manuscript note that it was engraved by an S. Wetherbee.  Not listed in Carson.

After: Joseph Wright

Engraver: Samuel Wetherbee

Location: Boston

Year: Circa 1810

Reference: Baker No. 82; Hart No. 153a


George Washington Engraving after Joseph Wright GEN.RL WASHINGTON.  After Joseph Wright.  This scarce engraving of Washington was unknown to Baker, and documented by Hart as Hart No. 158.  One example of the type appeared as Lot 103 from the Whelen Collection sale in 1909, noted as "extremely rare".  Lot 148 of the Mitchell Collection sale in 1906, also noted as "extremely rare".  Lot 184 of the Holden Collection sale of 1910 lists the engraving as "scarce" and attributes the engraving to being printed in Edinburgh in 1791, without further details.

After: Joseph Wright

Engraver: Unknown

Location: Edinburgh

Year: Circa 1791

Reference: Hart No. 158


George Washington Engraving by James Heath 1800 GENERAL WASHINGTON.  After Gilbert Stuart.  The Lansdowne Portrait, depicting George Washington as President. Engraved by James Heath, this engraving was contentious in the day because Heath made the engraving shortly following the death of George Washington in 1799, and published it without the permission of Gilbert Stuart, the artist, who planned to publish his own engraving of the portrait and was enraged that Heath's engraving predated his own.  The Stuart painting from which Heath made his engraving was in the collection of The Marquis of Lansdowne, given as a gift by wealthy Philadelphia merchant and patriot William Bingham. 

After: Gilbert Stuart

Engraver: James Heath

Location: London

Year: February 1, 1800

Reference: Baker 250, Hart 285.


 

 


Except where cited otherwise, all content 2010-2014 by Anthony Iasso   

Contact Me   

  Guest Book