Le General Gates,/ qui à environné et fait Prisonier le General Lieutenant/ Bourgogne, avec toute son Armée en Amerique
London: Published by Thomas Hart, circa 1776. Mezzotint. In good condition with the exception of some minor foxing in the plate. Image size: 7 7/8 x 6 3/16 inches. Sheet size: 11 15/16 x 9 1/4 inches. Plate mark: 8 7/8 x 6 13/16 inches.
A fascinating altered plate advertising an earlier portrait of David Wooster as a likeness of General Horatio Gates.
Public curiosity for prints of Revolutionary rebels was not limited to America but spread to the English and European print shops, where an inquisitive audience clamored for a glimpse of the key figures of the war. Public interest reached such a frenzy that European printmakers published fictitious portraits before they had accurate likenesses of the sitters, often using old plates and simply changing the name of the sitter. This intriguing mezzotint of General Gates is just such a portrait. By title and description it represents itself as a portrait of Horatio Gates, the famous American patriot who won the battle of Saratoga, but it is in fact an earlier portrait claiming to be a likeness of David Wooster. In a cunning ploy to satisfy the public demand for portraits of famous revolutionary rebels, the London publisher Thomas Hart has simply used an old plate of David Wooster and changed the title to indicate that it was a portrait of Gates. This portrait, which presumably would have been distributed in Europe, is a reduced replica of an earlier mezzotint of Wooster published in London by Thomas Hart and engraved by C. Corbutt. This fascinating altered plate gives us a glimpse into the world of eighteenth century print publishing, where truth and accuracy came second to the printsellers desire to satisfy a demanding public market.
Cresswell, The American Revolution in Drawings and Prints no82-88 and no.235-237.