SCENOGRAPHIA AMERICANA - Thomas POWNALL (1722-1805) and Paul SANDBY (1731-1809), after
[Six Remarkable Views in the Provinces of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Engraved after the Paintings made by Mr. Paul Sandby, from the Drawings taken on the spot by his Excellency Governor Pownall]
[London: printed for John Bowles, Robert Sayer, Thos. Jefferys, Carington Bowles and Henry Parker, circa 1768]. Oblong folio. (17 1/4 x 24 inches). Complete suite of 6 engraved views.
Expertly bound to style in half russia and combed marbled paper covered boards.
Very rare complete suite of among the most beautifully engraved views of North America in the 18th century.
The plates are titled as follows: 1) A View in Hudson's River of the Entrance of what is called the Topan Sea. Engraved by Peter Benazech after Pownal and Paul Sandby. 2) A View of the Falls on the Passaick, or second River, in the Province of New Jersey. Engraved by Paul Sandby, after Pownall and Sandby. 3) A View in Hudson's River of Pakepsey & the Catts-Kill Mountains, From Sopos Island in Hudson's River. Engraved by Paul Sandby, after Pownall and Sandby. 4) A View of the Great Cohoes Falls, on the Mohawk River; The Fall about Seventy feet, the River near a Quarter of a Mile broad. Engraved by Wm. Elliot, after Pownall and Sandby. 5) A View of Bethlem [sic.], in the Great Moravian Settlement in the Province of Pennsylvania. Engraved by Paul Sandby, after Pownall and Sandby. 6) A Design to represent the beginning and completion of an American Settlement or Farm. Engraved by James Peake, after Pownall and Sandby. Published following the conclusion of the French and Indian War, and in a period of great public interest in the American colonies, the Scenographia Americana was the first book dedicated to a large-scale artistic depiction of the American landscape. From the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the West Indies, the scenes include locations of battles, views of strategic provincial capitals, and newly secured areas of commercial importance. Just as clear is the celebration of nature's 'astonishingly great' expanse, to cite Pownall, great in width and in height. Here are harbors and rivers, cascades, forests and skies" (Hood). In 1768, the plates were published in two forms, the complete set of 28 engraved plates (priced at four guineas); or as seven separate suites as follows: six views of Canada after Smith (plates 1-6, priced 1 guinea); two views in Canada (plates 7-8, priced 7s); two views of New York after Howdell (plates 9-10, priced 7s); two views of Boston and Charlestown, South Carolina (plates 11-12, priced 7s, 6d for the pair or 3s, 6d individually); six views after Pownall (plates 13-18, priced 1 guinea) [as here]; six views of Havana after Durnford (plates 19-24, priced 1 guinea); and four views in the West Indies after Campell (plates 25-28, priced 14s). Thomas Pownall arrived in America in 1753 to serve as Secretary to Governor Danvers Osborne. Within a week of his arrival, however, the Governor died unexpectedly. Nevertheless, Pownall chose to remain in America, and travelled extensively through the middle colonies, producing sketches of the frontier landscapes and settlements which he deemed remarkable. Following the end of the French and Indian War, his sketches were worked up into paintings by Royal Academy artist Paul Sandby and engraved. Sandby would later become the Chief Drawing Master of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, charged with training engineers to document the expanding landscape of the British Empire. "His translations of Pownall's visual impressions were given to the Publick whose tastes for landscape observations and printed views, especially in the picturesque style, were emerging in England at the time ... [Pownall and Sandby's views] reveal formative topographical features and the industrious spirit that forged an identity for individuals who were naturalised in the context of the American wilderness. Prior to the American Revolution, while the Provinces were under the control of England, Pownall's work also satisfied a European desire to visualise this previously unknown setting as an intellectual curiosity. The natural environment of the New World was a model subject for the implementation of aesthetic landscape principals that were emerging in England at the time of Pownall's travels. Such principles perhaps shaped Pownall and Sandby's reflections and led them to embellish topographical depictions with an Anglo vision for ordered industrial, spiritual, and scenic composition an approach that made the views more comprehensible to an English audience comfortable with certain landscape aesthetics and excited to see views of Englands territories abroad. This practice would come to be replicated by subsequent travelers who followed a similar tour to Pownall's and further attempted to draw British North America into existence by way of a distinctly European lens" (Brett Culbert, "View of the Middle Colonies").
Sabin 81486; Deak, Picturing America, 107; Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island 1498-1909, I: pp. 281-295; Stokes, American Historical Prints B-92; Fowble, Two Centuries of Prints in America, 25-30; John E. Crowley, "The Scenographia Americana (1768): A transnational landscape for early America" in Common-Place, vol. 6, no. 2 (January 2006); Donald F. Clark, "Six Remarkable Views, 1761: the Collaboration of Governor Pownall and Paul Sandby" in Imprint, vol. 4, no. 1 (April 1979); Graham Hood, "America the Scenic" in Colonial Williamsburg Journal, Spring 2009; Spendlove, pp. 6-8.