[N.p., but almost certainly America. N.d., circa 1785 - 1800]. Partially handcolored engraving, 10 3/4 x 14 inches. Backed on later paper. Edges worn and a bit chipped, mostly in the lower edge. Minor separations at cross-folds; a few short, closed tears. Some old staining, later ink inscription in bottom margin reading "Handed down in Scofield Family since Revolutionary Days." Good overall. Matted. Item #WRCAM54990
A rare and early equestrian portrait of George Washington in military dress, encircled by a foliated border wreath and surrounding text reading, "His Excellency George Washington Esqr. Commander in chief of the American Armies. The Protector of his Country. The Supporter of Liberty. And the Benefactor of Mankind. May his name never be forgotten." Riding a rearing horse advancing to the left, Washington brandishes a sword in his right hand while wearing a tricorner hat with cockade and jacket (hand-colored in blue). A military encampment, including four tents is visible in the background at left. The present example has been associated with the well-known "Alexander Campbell" mezzotint published in London in 1775. According to Wick, however, this "crude engraving" was likely copied from another contemporary work, which was itself sourced from the central vignette in a 1783 English printed handkerchief (Figure 10 in Wick's GEORGE WASHINGTON: AN AMERICAN ICON). The only difference in the two illustrations lies in the color of the tents in the background. In the slightly earlier image, the tents are black with white interiors; in the present image, the tents are white with black interiors. Regarding the date of creation of the etching, Wick claims it could have been "made any time after the late 1780s and may even have been produced as a memorial image in 1800." Both Wick and Hart also describe a later 19th-century imitation of this print, in which there is no punctuation in the surrounding inscription; Mitchell further explains that the imitation was printed from a copper plate that was too small to hold the entire image, leaving about a quarter-inch of the leaf border blank at the top. The present illustration bears no imprint, and the identities of the publisher and the engraver are unknown. Based on the quality and manner of the engraving, we believe that it was produced in the young United States, and is therefore among the earliest large images of George Washington published in his native land. Contemporary images of the "Father of Our Country" are growing increasingly rare in the market, and the present example is among the more difficult to procure, and has been so for more than a century now. In the 1904 catalogue of his own collection, Hampton L. Carson described the present engraving as "[e]xcessively rare. The only copy that has come under my observation." Not in Baker, nor are any copies listed in OCLC. CARSON COLLECTION 118. HART 725. WICK 100. MITCHELL CATALOGUE 99.