The Old Print Shop

America. To Perpetuate to Posterity the Memory of those Patriotic Heroes, who Fought, Bled & Died in Establishing Peace, Liberty, and Tranquility to their Country.

  • ARTIST: Amos Doolittle

  • MEDIUM: Stipple and line engraving,

    DATE: undated. c. 1782.

  • EDITION SIZE: Image size 17 5/16 x 23" (44 x 58.3 cm)

  • DESCRIPTION: At the left is an obelisk bearing the names of Warren / Montgomery / Wooster / Mercer. All American heroes of the war—James Warren, James Montgomery, David Wooster and James Mercer, all who had fallen in battle. Beside it kneels a figure wearing a fur robe, and with feathers in her hair, representing America. At the right are five allegorical figures, one carrying a liberty cap on a pole. They are accompanied by children and animals. Against a tree trunk, at the extreme right, leans a shield inscribed: Appeal to Heaven. The scene is evidently laid on a beach, as waves are creeping in from the left-hand corner where a figure lies, transfixed with an arrow. In the background, to the left, are houses in flames, and to the right, a glimpse of the sea and sailing vessels. From the storm clouds, which fill the sky, emerges a figure offering a palm branch to America.<br><br> Appeal to Heaven<br><br> This slogan was very popular during the Revolution and was taken from the words of Englishman John Locke (1632-1704). In 1689-90 he published his “Second Treatise of Government,” which says:<br> …where the body of the people, or any single man, is deprived of their right, or is under the exercise of a power without right, and have no appeal on earth, then they have a liberty to appeal to heaven, whenever they judge the cause of sufficient moment.<br><br> Robert Edge Pine (1730-1788) was the son of the English engraver John Pine (1690-1756) and thus a part of the London art world from the time of his birth. Little is known of his artistic training. His earliest recorded work is The Surrender of Calais to Richard III, for which he won a first prize from the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts in 1760. The same year he showed A Mad Woman in the first exhibition of the Society of Artists. He continued to exhibit there and with the Free Society of Artists through 1772. Physically a small man, Pine was known for his difficult temperament. His politics were considered radical and he was known to sympathize with the American cause. While still in England he painted a large (nine feet, six inches by six feet, ten inches) allegory, America, known today from an engraving from which this print was made. In 1784 Pine came to the United States armed with an introduction to Washington, of whom he hoped to paint numerous remunerative portraits, and a plan for a grand series of at least eight historical paintings of the Revolution on the scale of America. Of this series, only Congress Voting Independence is known from a small copy (Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia) painted by Edward Savage (1761-1817), although, according to the records of Pine's estate, others were left unfinished at his death. In his four years in America (he died in 1788), Pine painted more than ninety works, mostly portraits. In completing these, he was aided by his daughters and his wife, who also ran a drawing school in Philadelphia. <br><br> Amos Doolittle (1754-1832) worked in New Haven and was probably America’s most prolific early engraver. His career spanned seven decades and yielded hundreds of portraits, views, book illustrations and maps, but he is best known for his historical prints, most famously his suite of four engravings of the battles at Lexington and Concord. Art historians are often unjustly dismissive of his output; Stauffer for example stuffily pronounces that “his work, at the best, possesses little other than historical interest.” (Stauffer I:67) This is terribly unfair: while some of his early work—notably the Lexington and Concord engravings—was indeed crude, much of his later work is quite accomplished, as evidenced by the detail and clarity of this plan of New Haven. Even if the charge were true however, the “historical interest” is extreme. Doolittle’s political and historical prints documented some of the most important events of his time, and he engraved some of the most significant maps issued in the early years of the republic. <br><br> The print is very rare. Known impressions: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; Museum of Fine Arts Boston; Private Collection; Worcester Art Museum. <br><br>colon


  • CONDITION: Fair condition. Some professional repairs within image.

  • REFERENCE: Stauffer 522; LC "American Revolution in Drawings and Prints #761.