[HANCOCK, John (1737-1793)] - C. SHEPHERD, publisher
The Honble. John Hancock. of Boston in New-England; President of the American Congress. Done from an original picture painted by Littleford
London: C. Shepherd, October 25, 1775. Mezzotint engraving. Image size (including text): 14 x 9 5/16 inches. Sheet size: Uncut, 18 3/4 x 12 3/8 inches. Framed (1 1/2" gold leaf Federal frame with ribbed panel and acanthus lead corners, archival Antique white mat and UV Plexiglas).
A rare image showing Hancock standing at a writing table, holding a letter addressed to Israel Putnam.
"As president of the Continental Congress in 1775, Hancock was newsworthy in both London and the colonies, and he was a tailor-made subject for the print publishers. Some entrepreneurs, like Shepherd in his anxiety to get the first prints on the street, were willing to supplement truth with a generous portion of fiction ... [On 25 October 1775 Shepherd] published this [portrait of Hancock ] ... holding a letter addressed to 'Monsieur Mons. Israel Putnam Maior General a Long-Island" (Fowble p.115). "Littleford" is evidently a fictitious artist's name, and the supposed model for this image is J.S. Copley's oil portrait of Hancock done from life in circa 1772-4. However, if Shepherd did have knowledge of Copley's portrait then it can only have been a verbal description as the resemblance between his print and the original is so loose. "In reality, Shepherd was not taking an appreciable risk that his fictious version would be rejected by the market. Only the relatively few individuals who were personally acquainted with Hancock or who had enjoyed an opportunity to see Copley's portrait could have been any the wiser" (Fowble p. 115).
Fowble, Two Centuries of Prints in America 1680-1880, 63; Russell ENA III.6; Smith British Mezzotinto Portraits III.5.