||SAVAGE, Edward (engraver). - After Gilbert STUART
1801. Mezzotint portrait, state II of 2, sheet size: 27 7/8 x 21 1/2 inches, image size: 26 3/8 x 20 inches. In good condition, trimmed within the plate mark and backed onto archival tissue, small repaired tears.
A fine early American mezzotint of the 'Landsdowne Portrait" of the Father of the Nation
This stunning image is based on James Heath's engraving after Gilbert Stuart's famous portrait of Washington. Stuart's painting, done in 1796, is known as the Lansdowne Portrait because it was a gift to the Marquis of Lansdowne, an English supporter of American independence, from Senator and Mrs. William Bingham of Pennsylvania. The painting was quickly reproduced by the British engraver James Heath without Stuart's consent, an act that infuriated Stuart who had hoped to control the rights to the engraving and thus garner some profit from the publication and sale of the print. Despite his condemnation, Heath's engraving established Stuart's painting as the official image of Washington and set a style for portraying Washington's successors in the White House.
Edward Savage is considered one of the most important artists of the early Federal period in America. A self-taught painter and engraver, Savage was also the proprietor of a succession of galleries in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, where he exhibited his own paintings and patriotic prints. This print is Edward Savage's masterly version of Heath's famous image. Hart describes a print by Savage that matches this mezzotint of Washington, with lettering, which according to Hart should read 'E. Savage Execu: td 1801'. The present example supports Hart's claim that in most copies of this print the date is barely visible.
Cf. Cunningham Popular Images of the Presidency: From Washington to Lincoln pp.135-139; Hart Catalogue of Engraved Portraits of Washington 293; Stauffer ii, 2755cf. Wick George Washington an American Icon p.60-61