Picturesque Views of American Scenery
Picturesque Views of American Scenery
Picturesque Views of American Scenery
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Picturesque Views of American Scenery

JOSHUA SHAW & JOHN HILL, 1820

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Picturesque Views of American Scenery
Joshua Shaw & John Hill, 1820
SHAW, Joshua (1776-1860) and HILL, John (1770-1850). Picturesque Views of American Scenery. Philadelphia: Matthew Carey & Son, 1820[-1821].

First edition of this "milestone in American printmaking" (Koke), called the "first systematic attempt to record the New World's landscape" (Deák) to the level of European representation. The title page is the usual second state, with Carey's name in the imprint and the date re-worked in the plate from 1819 to 1820. The very rare first issue bore the name of the original intended publisher, Moses Thomas, but Thomas did not make it so far as to publish any of the views. The "1819" date is clearly visible under 1820, and more than one reader has apparently mistaken it for 1829. The aquatint engravings are of a quality unprecedented to this time. The Picturesque Views "directed attention to [John Hill] as a master of the mysterious medium of aquatint wherein his American predecessors were by comparison mere dabblers" (Koke).

"Known as 'The Landscape Album,' this portfolio of views was a collaboration between the artist Joshua Shaw and the aquatint engraver John Hill. Although both men had only recently arrived from England when they undertook the work, Shaw felt sufficiently Americanized to speak in the first person when he wrote: 'Our country abounds with Scenery, comprehending all the varieties of the sublime, the beautiful, and the picturesque in nature, worthy to engage the skill of an Artist….” Each plate seeks to convey the unique spirit of place of disparate locations throughout the United States. Although the scenery was American, the romantic sensibility behind it was indicative of the European background and training of its creators" (America Pictured to the Life). As noted by Deák, the "quiet charm of Shaw's pioneer work" was an important influence on the Hudson River School. America Pictured to the Life 5; Deák 315; Howes S-345 ("c," refering to colored copies, uncolored is more rare at least according to auction records); Koke, Checklist of John Hill 37-56, Stamped with a National Character 5.

Broadsheet folio (524 x 352 mm). 20 aquatint engraved plates, including the title-page; each with facing leaf of letterpress text except the vignette "Monument near West Point." The view of the burning of Savannah Georgia in January 1820 is printed in two colors (see illustration preceding lot 1 in this catalogue). Modern half morocco over 19th century cloth, contemporary gilt-lettered titling piece preserved on front cover (erroneously dated 1829). Custom half morocco solander case.

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