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THE BOSTONIANS IN DISTRESS
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF AMBASSADOR J. WILLIAM MIDDENDORF II
THE BOSTONIANS IN DISTRESS

JOHANN MARTIN WILL, C. 1774-1783

Details
THE BOSTONIANS IN DISTRESS
Johann Martin Will, c. 1774-1783

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Lot Essay

[after Phillip DAWE, Johann Martin Will (1727-1806) engraver]. The Bostonians in Distress. [Augsburg:] "London, printed for R. Sayer & J.Bennett, Map & Printsellers, No 53 Fleet Street as the Act directs, 19 November 1774" [c. 1774-1783].

The mate to Tarring & Feathering. The image shows Boston suspended upon their own "Liberty Tree" trapped within a cage surrounded by cannon and grenadiers as a metaphor for the enactment of the Boston Port Act which closed the harbor to trade following the Boston Tea Party. The caged prisoners can be seen greedily consuming fish provided by fisherman representing the neighboring colonies who united to send provisions to the town's inhabitants. The fisherman may have been representing specifically the town of Marblehead who had sent a large quantity to Boston. In an allusion to the futility of British imperial policy, the cage is suspended on a dead branch. Engraver Phillip Dawe is credited with fashioning the original mezzotint, which proved so popular that the copperplate was reworked several times and the engraving is known to exist in at least five states. Johann Martin Will of Augsburg produced the present copy, a reverse of Dawe's work, but while omitting his name (he would add it in the second state), he did add the credit: "London: Printed for R. Sayer & J. Bennett, Map & Printsellers. No. 55 Fleet Street, as the act directs 19 Novr. 1774." See Torbert, Dissolving the Bonds, pp. 190-206, 215, 311-323, 1021-1022. Copies of this edition can be found at The Library of Congress and The John Carter Brown Library. Shadwell, 43 (misattributed to Dawe), Cresswell 673 (an earlier state from Dawe’s plate).

Mezzotint. Plate: 12 3/4 x 9 1/4 (358 x 236mm), sheet: 14 5/8 x 9. 3/4 in (372 x 249 mm). (Light foxing.) Mounted to a board and framed.

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