POWNALL, After Thomas (1722-1805)
A view of the city of Boston, the capital of New England, in North America. Vue de la Ville de Boston, Capitale de la Nouvelle Angleterre, dans l'Amérique Septentrionale. Drawn on the Spot by his Excellency, Governor Pownal
London: printed for John Bowles, Robert Sayer, Thomas Jefferys, Carington Bowles and Henry Parker, [No date but c.1761]. Copper engraving by P.C. Canot after a painting by Pugh from a design by Pownall. Expert repairs, trimmed to the plate mark. Sheet size: 14 1/4 x 20 3/8 inches.
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 (1710-1777), 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 28 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 of 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, returning 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.