London: Printed for John Bowles, Robert Sayer, Thomas Jefferys, Carington Bowles and Henry Parker, [ca. 1761]. Copper engraving by P.C. Canot after a painting by Pugh from a design by Pownall. Sheet size: 14 1/4 x 20 3/8 inches. Expert repairs, trimmed to the plate mark. Matted. Item #WRCAM39010
An important image of colonial Boston from the famous and very rare SCENOGRAPHIA AMERICANA series. Pownall's drawing of Boston, here ably engraved by Peter Charles Canot (1710-77), was one of six prints in the SCENOGRAPHIA AMERICANA series that were based on Pownall's sketches. This particular image was worked up into a painting by Pugh, and it was from this that the engraving was made by Canot. The complete SCENOGRAPHIA AMERICANA (with a total of twenty-eight plates) is a legendary rarity: no copies are listed as having sold at auction in the past thirty years. Individual prints are therefore all that the collector can hope for, and the present image is one of the most important. Governor Thomas Pownall, one of the few sympathetic colonial governors in North America, was also an artist, author, and mapmaker. He first came to America as secretary of the governor of New York, Sir Danvers Osborn, in 1753, who committed suicide a few days after arriving. Pownall stayed on in America and became deeply involved in colonial politics during these critical years (the French and Indian War). He contributed to and supported Pitt's strategy in the war against the French and was appointed governor of Massachusetts, replacing Shirley, in August 1757. He was at first very popular, energetically raising troops and prosecuting the war with the French; but political rivalry and objections to his own rather free lifestyle and manners led to his retirement from the position at his own request, and he returned to England in 1760. He remained a staunch supporter of the American causes as they arose in the 1760s. Interestingly, he was very much in favor of emancipation of the slaves in America. Pownall was a long-time friend of Benjamin Franklin. DEÁK, PICTURING AMERICA 106. STOKES & HASKELL, AMERICAN HISTORICAL PRINTS 1758-B-86. Winsor, MEMORIAL HISTORY OF BOSTON, p. II:127.