Charles Lee, Esqr. : Major General of the Continental-Army in America.

Mezzotint, 1775
Image size 12 3/4 x 9 7/8" (323 x 252 mm).
Good condition, no margins on, top and sides.
LOCATION: New York City

Inventory Number: 34443
Price: $2,500.00
Publisher : Published as the act directs, 31 Octr, 1775, by C. Shepherd. London.
Thomlinsen pinxt. Engraver unidentified. Statement on the standard flying in the background "An Appeal to Heaven." Once the war with America had begun, there was an instant demand for the most current news of the latest victories and defeats. Reports from America were slow to reach England and were often incorrect or grossly exaggerated. Entrepreneurial publishers struggled to provide the most up to date caricatures and portraits from the colonies, and often published prints based on fraudulent information or no information at all. In his enthusiasm to publish the first likeness of the American War hero General Lee, Charles Shepherd published a fictitious portrait of the general without ever seeing an actual likeness. Completely contrived, Shepherd’s portrait bears little similarity to descriptions of Lee, who was reported to be tall, thin and unattractive with an untidy dress sense.

This portrait is one of a series of mezzotints published in London at the outbreak of the war depicting the officers of the American Revolution. Because of his distinction in the French and Indian Wars, Lee was included in the series with the assumption that he would play a major role in the war. Although fictitious, this is one of the earliest portraits of Lee and is considered one of the most important Revolutionary prints.

Major General Charles Lee (1732-1782) served during the French and Indian War with fellow officers George Washington, Horatio Gates and Thomas Gage. He later resigned from the British Army due to a dispute over rank and moved to America where he became involved in the Patriot cause. He joined the newly formed Army and was made third in command under Washington and Artemas Ward. Lee arrived in Charleston, South Carolina early in On June 1776, where soon after the British arrived. Lee quickly fortified the city with Colonel William Moultrie who commanded Fort Sullivan on Sullivan's Island in the harbor. Lee expected the majority of fighting to take place in the city proper, but on June 28, 1776, Moultrie held off the British naval force and the British retired without ever reaching the city. Lee and Moultrie received commendations for their actions. Lee was later captured in New Jersey and eventually exchanged for Major General Prescott. He had a dispute with Washington in 1778, which eventually led to his dismissal from the army.
18th-19th Century Subjects , Portraits , Revolutionary War Figures