SARTAIN, John after Chester HARDING
1843. Mezzotint. In excellent condition apart from some very faint foxing on sheet. Image size: 12 1/8 x 9 3/4 inches. Sheet size: 17 x 13 1/4 inches.
A wonderful impression of John Sartain's striking mezzotint of Washington Allston, the famous American painter who introduced Romanticism to the United States.
John Sartain was the preeminent portrait engraver in Philadelphia. His success was unusual for a nineteenth century engraver and can be attributed mainly to his adaptability as an artist and his skill as an engraver. Although most of his attention was focused on mezzotint engraving, he also turned variously to lithography, etching, bank-note engraving, portrait painting in oils, and photography. Sartain was held in great esteem, and he worked closely with the leading artists of the day, establishing himself as an eminent figure in the Philadelphian art world. This fascinating portrait of Washington Allston is a wonderful example of Sartain's unique skills as a mezzotint engraver. His fine engraving style brings continuity to the surface of the print, which is almost photographic in its fine texture and subtle effect, producing a truly striking image of this celebrated American artist. Washington Allston was a seminal figure in the development of American art after the Revolution. His beautiful landscape paintings ushered in the age of Romanticism in America, but his work ranged in subject matter from biblical paintings to portraiture. Allston drew the inspiration for his paintings from poetry, novels, and Biblical texts, all of which demonstrate his deep understanding of nature and civilization. He was part of the famous Hudson River School, an elite group of landscape painters who worked in the Hudson Valley after the Revolution.
Reaves, American Portrait Prints p.135-161.