• Important Printed Books and Am auction at Christies

    Sale 2655

    Important Printed Books and Americana from The Albert H. Small Collection

    18 May 2012, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 137

    REVERE, Paul (1734-1818). The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King Street, BOSTON, on March 5th 1770, by Party of the 29th REGt. Boston: Engrav'd Printed & Sold by Paul Revere, March 1770.

    Price Realised  


    REVERE, Paul (1734-1818). The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King Street, BOSTON, on March 5th 1770, by Party of the 29th REGt. Boston: Engrav'd Printed & Sold by Paul Revere, March 1770.
    Engraving with hand-coloring. Print: 9 7/8 x 8 7/8 in. Sheet: 10 3/8 x 9 3/8 in. Brigham, plate 14. This variant with small clock at left center reading 10:20 (Brigham notes a later variant, altered to the more correct time of 8:00). Printed on laid paper with watermark crown and shield and initials L V G (ascribed by some, according to Brigham, to Lobertus van Gerrevink of Holland). Beneath the heading and the image are 18 lines of engraved verse ("Unhappy Boston! see thy sons deplore, Thy hallow'd Walks besmear'd with Guiltless Gore..." At the bottom of the sheet, engraved in italics, is a detailed list of the casualties: "The unhappy sufferers were Saml Gray, Saml Maverick, James Caldwell, Crispus Attucks, and Patrick Carr," plus "Six wounded; two of them (Christr Monk & John Clark) Mortally." CONDITION: A one-inch clean tear to top center, two small wormholes in lower portion, professionally mended but with loss of several letters (these few carefully supplied in ink), a few other small repairs to outer edges, otherwise in good condition for a print often found in poor condition.


    "Few prints have influenced history as much as Paul Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre of 1770" (D. Roylance, American Graphic Arts, Princeton, 1990, p.48). Revere immediately recognized the propaganda value of the incident, and "saw the opportunity of furthering the patriot cause by circulating so significant a print" (Clarence S. Brigham, Paul Revere's Engravings, New York, 1969, p.52-53). Revere's powerful depiction was based upon a sketch of the bloody confrontation by Henry Pelham. Both Pelham and another engraver, Jonathan Mullikan, produced competing prints. Revere's engraving was advertised for sale in the March 26th editions of the Boston Evening Post and the Boston Gazette: "a Print, containing a Representation of the late horrid Massacre in King-street." Two days later Revere noted in his Day Book that he paid the printers Edes & Gill to produce 200 impressions. Pelham's depiction was advertised for sale in the same publications a week later.

    The sanguinary events of March 5--in which five Bostonians died by British musket-fire--took on great symbolic significance due to the highly charged tenor of public affairs between England and its colonies, Massachusetts in particularly. Paul Revere's incendiary Bloody Butchery powerfully fanned the embers of opposition to British rule. The event, commemorated annually in following years, was a significant factor in radically altering Americans' attitude toward the King's armies quartered among them. There can be little doubt that Revere's dramatic depiction remained vivid in the minds of the patriots who composed the Declaration of Independence; enumerating America's grievances against the Crown, it indicted the King "for quartering large bodies of armed troops among us...."

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