The Old Print Shop

Henry Laurens Esq'r. President of the American Congress 1778.

  • ARTIST: John Singleton Copley

  • PUBLISHER: Publish'd Octr. 1st. 1782 by J. Stockdale Bookseller, No. 181, opposite Burlington House, Piccadilly, London.

  • MEDIUM: Mezzotint engraving,

    DATE: 1782.

  • EDITION SIZE: Image size 23 1/8 x 15 15/16" (58.6 x 40.4 cm).

  • DESCRIPTION: Painted by J. S. Copley, R.A. Elect 1782. Engraved by V. Green Mezzotinto Engraver to his Majesty & to the Elector Palatine. The image shows Henry Laurens (1724-1792) in a full-length portrait, seated at a table, facing slightly left. Includes a remarque showing a Native American man holding a shield with three birds on it. Laurens was an American merchant and rice planter from South Carolina. He was elected to Provincial Congress in 1775 and named a delegate to Continental Congress in 1777, and quickly was named President of the Continental Congress. He resigned from the Presidency of the Continental Congress in 1778 after a dispute with Silas Deane. In 1779 Congress appointed Laurens as Minister to the Netherlands and where he successfully negotiated Dutch support for the war. On his return voyage, his ship was stopped by the British Royal Navy and he was charged with treason and imprisoned in the Tower of London. On December 31st, 1781, he was released in exchange for General Lord Cornwallis. Soon after his release John Singleton Copley (1738-1815) painted his portrait which was engraved by Valentine Green (1739-1813). On January 12, 1782, the following was advertised in the London newspaper, “Morning Chronicle”: "Mr. Copley, the artist who painted the celebrated picture of the death of the late Earl of Chatham, is engaged to paint the portrait of Henry Laurens, Esq. late president of the American Congress," and that "Mr. Green is also engaged to engrave the same. From such a combination of abilities, it may be presumed the public will be gratified by a genuine representation of that distinguished character.” A rare portrait of an American patriot.


  • CONDITION: Fair condition, a good impression. Backed on paper, several small tears all skillfully repaired. Margins 1/2" top and sides, full title margin. It is unusual for mezzotints of the period to have margins.

  • REFERENCE: Cresswell, #144..

Related Products