The Old Print Shop

Washington. Pater Patriae.

  • ARTIST: Gilbert Stuart

  • PUBLISHER: Published by J. Goldsbourgh Bruff.

  • MEDIUM: Heliotype

    DATE: 1876

  • EDITION SIZE: Image size 10 7/8 x 10 7/8" (27.6 cm)

  • DESCRIPTION: An unusual George Washington celebratory piece.<br><br> At first glance, this piece feels like some sort of reproduction of earlier print. The print notes that it is a heliotype. Upon further research, it is this cataloger’s belief that it is a period copy via the heliotype process, which at the time was a new cutting-edge process in which an impression is taken in ink from a gelatine surface that has been exposed under a negative and prepared for printing. The piece that it was taken from was likely a watercolor that J. Goldsbourgh Bruff drew. <br><br> The image is full of patriotic imagery, from the all-seeing eye, aka, the Eye of Providence, and thirteen stars representing the original colonies emerging from the clouds. Below that an eagle with wings spread, a ribbon banner in its beak with the motto E. Pluribis Unum, itself perched upon a group of spears. A pair of American flags, one toped with the liberty cap, the other with an eagle. To the right and left is a list of Washington’s personal accomplishments. The open lettered title is quite fascinating. Each letter is full of scenes of Washington’s battles and experiences during the Revolutionary War, these include his headquarters at Cambridge, Masterful retreat from Long Island, Crossing the Delaware, Trenton, Princeton, Valley Forge, Monmouth, Surrender at Yorktown, Headquarters at Tappan and Newburgh and his Farewell to his Officers. Below that is an image of Gilbert Stuarts portrait, scenes including his birth home, Mount Vernon and the two tombs. In the lower corner is an image of the Liberty Bell. Given the date of publication, 1876, it is likely that Bruff was hoping to use the Centennial to promote sales. This author has been unable to locate another example.<br><br> J. Goldsbourgh Bruff (1804-1889) the artist – publisher of this piece led a interesting life. An amateur artist and adventurer as well as a professional draftsman and cartographer. Spent two years at West Point. In 1849 with the news of golds discoveries in California, he organized an expedition to California. During this two year adventure, a grand story itself, he kept extensive journals that recorded the details of the expedition's travels, making many drawings of places, people and events. In 1851-52 he worked as a draftsman in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. His life and travels are well worth looking up.<br>


  • CONDITION: Overall in good condition Soft crease in tower corner, outside of image. Original hand coloring.