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History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884 (Volume 2) online

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Goodman relinquished engraving about 1819, studied
law, and was admitted to the Philadelphia bar. Some
years later Piggott also gave up art, He studied the-
ology, and was admitted to orders in the Protestant
Episcopal Church. Gideon Fairman, a native of
Connecticut, began life as a blacksmith. He at-
tempted engraving with rude tools of his own con-
struction, and gave such evidences of native talent
l that Brunton, an English engraver, encouraged him
to study the art. He went to Albany, N. Y., and
bound himself an apprentice to the brothers Hutton,
jewelers and engravers. Fairman, having become
proficient in his art, came to Philadelphia in 1810,
and was associated with George Murray and others
under the firm-name of Murray, Draper, Fairman &
J Co. Jacob Perkins, who had discovered the process
I of transferring engravings to copper and steel plates,
j and of applying lathe-work to dies, was subsequently
I taken into the firm as a partner. In 1818, Fairman
j went to London with Perkins and Asa Spencer, and
some workmen, to compete for a premium of twenty
thousand pounds, offered by the Bank of England
for a plate which could not be counterfeited. An
English engraver having succeeded, after many
efforts, in imitating their lathe-work, upon the use



of which they rested the impossibility of counter-
feiting their plates, they did not secure the twenty
thousand pounds, but the directors of the Hank of
England awarded to them five thousand pounds

voluntarily, in consideration of the value of their
process. The party returned to Philadelphia with
the exception of Perkins, who remained in London.
The principle of the geometric lathe was in reality
discovered by Christian Gobrecht, but its practical
Use as a security against counterfeiting was due to
the ingenuity of Perkins and Asa Spencer, of Con-
necticut. Perkins suggested the idea and Spencer
invented the machine. Most of Fairman's work was
upon small figures and vignettes for use on bank-
notes, but he was also a good engraver of portraits.
Mr. W. S. Baker mentions two portraits of Washing-
ton from Stuart's painting, and one of Governor
Moultrie of the Revolution, as being engraved by
Fairman. Gideon Fairman died March 18, 1827,
aged fifty-one years.

William Strickland, the architect, was also an
engraver ; most of his works are in the aquatint
method. Several landscapes and battle pieces by
this artist were published in the Portfolio in 1814,
1815, and 1816. John Boyd engraved principally in
the stipple manner. His first notable work, " St.
Francis," was published in 1810. He executed sev-
eral good pictures between that date and 1821, and
some fine portraits, among which were one of Fisher
Ames, from Stuart's picture, and one of Elias Bou-
dinot, after Sully.

In engraving, as in painting, native talent now
began to reveal itself. James W. Steel, line-engraver,
was a Philadelphian by birth. While a youth he
learned his business with Benjamin Tanner, and
worked at engraving bank-notes for Tanner, Val-
lance, Kearney & Co. He afterward worked for
George Murray, and, having become proficient in his
art, set up for himself. He engraved portraits of
Gen. Washington, Commodore James B. Allen, John
Vaughan, Samuel Slater, Rev. Gregory T. Bedell.
Three pictures in Childs' " Views in Philadelphia,"
"The University of Pennsylvania," "Widows' and
Orphans' Asylum," and "Friends' Fleeting-House,
Morion," were done by Mr. Steel ; but one of his best
work- is that very pretty little pieture, "Gray's Ferry
in the Olden Time." Mr. Steel died, much respected,
June 30, 1879, at the venerable age of eighty-eight


Another Philadelphian, David Claypoole Johnston,
acquired some celebrity in a particular line of en-
graving, lie was boru in tie city in March, 1797,
and commenced studj ing tin- art when he was sixteen
years old, with Francis Kearney, and remained with
him until he became of age. Hi- -ens,, of humor
made the busim ss of hook- or plate-work irk>ome to
him, and he adopted the specialty of original carica-
ture engravings, a rich field tor one of In- temper.
His caricatures of the dandies ami exquisites, of the

day, of the pompous, would-be-martial officers of the
local militia, made people laugh, and found a ready
sale; hut. alas! these caricatures were exaggerated
portraits, hut they were portraits still, and the origi-
nals were easily recognized and pointed out. Loud
were their complaints and threats. The print- and
book-sellers were scared by prospects of innu-
merable libel suits, and declined to invest their
money in those dangerous prints, or to expose them
in their shop windows. "Othello's occupation was
gone," for the nonce, and the caricaturist went upon
the stage. He made his debut at the Walnut Street
Theatre, March 10, 1821, a- Henry in "Speed the
Plow," which was followed by Master Slender in the
"Merry Wives of Windsor." Johnston remained
with the company three seasons, occasionally engrav-
ing a political caricature to keep his hand in. In
1825 he accepted the offer of an engagement at the
Boston Theatre, with the hope of finding an oppor-
tunity to practice his art which was denied him in
Philadelphia. At the close of the first season he
gave up the stage and set up an engraver's office. In
1830 he began the publication of" Scraps," an annual
of five plates, each containing nine or ten separate
humorous sketches. Still more comical was the lan-
guage attributed to the figures represented. These
sketches, sparkling with wit and humorous con-
ceit, became known all over the country, and were
eagerly sought by all lovers of fun. The carica-
turist became famous and made money, a very ac-
ceptable companion to fame. Johnston was the
nephew of Mrs. Rowson, the author of "Charlotte
Temple." He died at Dorchester, Mass., Nov. 8,
1865. His son, Thomas Murphy Johnston, inherited
his father's ability.

Some years before Johnston's first attempt, William
Charles had set up as a caricaturist. He, in partner-
ship with S. Kennedy, proposed to publish a monthly
sheet, each number to contain four original carica-
tures, at $1.50 per number to subscribers. The project
fell through for want of support, although Charles
showed some talent as a caricaturist. Among the
few known specimens of his skill is a caricature done
in the manner of Gilray, representing " Stephen
Girard frightened at the ghost of a silver dollar," a
memento of the shinplaster times. William R. Jones
(1811) is known for engraved portraits of James
Montgomery, ('apt. Thomas Truxton, Cornwallis,
Maj.-Geu. Harrison, and others; Richard Harrison
(1815), for a pretty vignette a water and coast scene)
for the title-page to the Portfolio, vol. v. J. Cone, in
the early part of the century, engraved "Philadel-
phia from Kensington," tor child-' "Views," after
Birch's drawing, and " Fairmount Water-Works,

t'r west hank of Schuylkill," by Doughty, .lames

Neagle, who practiced his art in Philadelphia from
L818 to 1822; when he died, engraved a portrait of
Dr. Nathaniel Chapman, from Sully's painting. John
1,. Frederick commenced engraving in Philadelphia


lnr. 9

in 1817. He continued in this business until the time
of his death, in 1880-81.

John Hill, an aquatint engraver, came to Phila-
delphia in 1816. He was already known here as
having aquatinted some six hundred groups of small
figures in landscapes, which were etched by W. H.
Pine, and published in " The Microcosm, or a Pictur-
esque Delineation of the Arts, Agriculture, Manu-
factures, etc., of Great Britain," originally issued in
London. In 1820, Hill associated himself with the
painter Joshua Shaw, in an undertaking of some
magnitude. This was a collection of about twenty
large folio prints, colored, of views of interesting
spots, such as " Washington's Tomb," " The Spot
where Gen. Ross Fell," "Jones' Falls, near Balti-
more," " Falls of St. Anthony," " View near Wissa-
hickon," etc. This fine work bore the title of " Pic-
turesque Views of American Scenery," published by
M. Carey & Son, from paintings by Joshua Shaw
and aquatints by J. Hill.

Cephas G. Childs, line-engraver, was a native of
Bucks County, who first studied with George Fair-
man, whose partner he afterward became. Among
his early works are many pretty views and engrav-
ings from paintings. Between 1827 and 1830 he pub-
lished "Views of Philadelphia." After a trip to
Europe, in 1821, he formed a partnership with Henry
Inman, portrait-painter, to carry on the business of
lithography, employing Albert Newsam as their prin-
cipal artist for portraits. About 1835, Mr. Childs
dissolved partnership with Inman, and became the
publisher of the Commercial List, a mercantile register
and journal. He died at Philadelphia, July 7, 1871.

T. Drayton, about 1819-20, was engraving, in aqua-
tint, views by Miss C. Schetky, of " Edinburgh,"
" Naples," " The Cottage of St. Leonard's," " Konig-
stein on the Elb, Saxony," " Falls of the Peddlar,
Virginia," "Natural Bridge, Virginia." Drayton
went to Washington, and was for many years in the
employment of the United States government as
draughtsman. He was the father of Henri Drayton,
the opera singer.

George B. Ellis, a pupil of Kearney, commenced to
engrave in 1821. His specialty was fine work for
magazines, annuals, and books. His first noticeable
productions were copies of English engravings illus-
trating " Ivanhoe." John B. Neagle, line-engraver,
was an Englishman by birth, but came to this country
when a youth. He executed, with much skill, small
work for books and almanacs, but, in the latter part
of his life, was engaged principally in engraving bank-
notes. He died about 1866, aged sixty-five years.
Neagle engraved Smirke's design forthe"Columbiad''
of Joel Barlow, "Cruelty presiding over the Prison
Ship," " Nelson wounded at the Island of TenerifTe,"
from Westall's painting, " Telemachus and Calypso,"
by Stoddart.

George S. Lang, a native of Chester County, Pa.,
learned engraving with George Murray. He was not

long in the business, and, while he followed it, was
principally engaged in bank-note engraving. He
engraved " Washington crossing the Delaware," after

[ Sully's picture, the figures being etched by Humph-
ries. Charles H. Parker, who was considered one of
the finest engravers of maps, writing, and ornamental
letter-work of his day, was born in Salem, Mass., and
studied under Fairman. He went to Europe to im-
prove himself in art ; came back in 1812, and estab-
lished himself in Philadelphia. At the time of his
death (1819), at the early age of twenty-four years, he
was engaged in engraving Washington's Farewell
Address. He was a young artist of much promise.

The name of Joseph Delaplaine belongs to the his-
tory of art, although he was not himself an artist.
In 1813 he commenced the publication of " Portraits
of Eminent Men and Women," a series of engravings,
four by five inches, each accompanied with a bio-
graphical notice by a good writer. The first portrait

j issued was that of Benjamin West; this was followed
by portraits of De Witt Clinton, John Jay, Governor
Joseph Heister, Governor William Findlay, and
others. The project was good, and it was beneficial
to the cause of art, but the pecuniary results were far
from satisfactory. Mr. Delaplaine subsequently ex-
hibited his gallery of painted portraits, from which
the engravings had been made. He died in 1824.

Joseph Perkins commenced engraving in Philadel-
phiainl820. In 1825 he engraved a large picture com-
memorating Lafayette's visit to this country. The
plate was twenty by sixteen inches. Robert Campbell
is principally known for his engraving of Thomas
Birch's picture of " Fairmount Water- Works," pub-
lished by Edward Parker. Asa Spencer and Thomas
Underwood, both members of the firm of Draper,
Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty, were skillful
bank-note engravers, but not much known for other
work. Richard Fairman, in 1820, had his office in

■ the same building with Gideon Fairman, whose son
he probably was. He died in 1821, aged thirty-three

\ years. He left no notable work that we know of.
James B. Lougacre was born in Delaware County,

I Pa., Aug.' 11, 1794. He was a bright boy, and gave
early indications of artistic genius, which awakened

j the interest of John F. Watson. The kind-hearted
author of the "Annals of Philadelphia" took the
lad into his family and book-store, and afterward
placed him with George Murray, the engraver, in
Philadelphia. Young Longacre justified all Mr.
Watson's hopes of his artistic gift. Having made
himself master of his art, he left Murray and began
engraving on his own account in 1819. From that
time to 1831 he engraved many illustrations for
books and quite a large number of portraits. W. S.
Baker gives a list of twenty-nine of these portraits.
The first work by Longacre which attracted attention
was his fine engraved portrait of Maj.-Gen. Andrew
Jackson, from Sully's picture. This was in 1820;
then came, among others, the portraits of Rev. llrnrv



Kollock; Maj. Nathaniel Greene 1822 ; Napoh ;

Timothy Pickering; Edward Rutledge, of South
Carolina, in India ink; John Adams, from Stuart's
■ . in«r. from Trott's miniature; Dr.
Physick, in India ink (1824 ; James Wilsi
Morris, in water-col
Hohenlobe; Governor Wolcott, of Con-
necticut; John C. Calhoun (1825), -all of which are
done in the best style. Mr. Longacre now
the idea ol a work of considerable magnitude, which,
carried out, gave employment to many
engravers and a new impulse to the art oi
B ited, with .lame- Berring, portrait-painter,
rk, the publication of the " National Por-
trait Gallery of Distinguished A ricans." There

hundred and forty-seven portrait
i -t stj le, and a biography of i a
I, written by literary men of established
reputation. Many of these portraits were drawn from
ngacre himself, and he engraved Lwenty-
t'our of them. The tir.-t ed in 1834,

following from year to year. Herring with-
drew from the association in 1839, and Lon
tinned the work alone until he brought it sui
to it- completion. In 1845, Mr. Longacre was ap-
pointed engraver at the United States Mint. lie
- it uck after that period up to
ol in- death, which occurred dan. l. 1869.
A year or t«o before his death he finished for the
I hili tie' remodeling of the entire
i that country.
The branch of engraving on steel known as mezzo-
tin to was tir*t introduced ami practiced a- a regular
in America in the year 1880, by John Sar-
tain, of Philadelphia. Occasionally, however, works
in this style had been produced before tiial time, hut
only in an experimental sort of way, by amateurs,
without being followed up in any instance. 1

-t was horn in London, England, in 1808,
ducated to he an engraver in what is called
manner, in which style he produced very

many of the plates in Ottley's folio work entitled

, Florentine School," published in 1826,
presenting example- of the best masters -uccessively,
from Cimabue in 1260, and Giotto, his pupil, down to

r. Hi in 1" In 1828, Mr. Sartain com-
menced the practice ol mezzotinto, and thereafter

seldom resumed the art he had first learned in its
purity, hut mingles both styles, with the addition of

(tippling, in all hie

. ngraving In- ha- engaged professionally in

painting in oil-, in water-colors, and in miniature on
ivory. In Water-Colors he had a- instructor the emi-
nent arti-t, John Varley, and in oil- Joshua Shaw,
ntinc in oil was taught him by Manuel .1.
and miniature and figures in wat. r-eolor-

ChutaW. lv.i-, -«. t

of Wuhlogtoo, l-y

bj Henry Richter. For some time he was employed
by Draper, Underwood & Co., the well-known hank-
note firm, to -i, i] the vignette pictures
that embellished their note-, ami he also designed on
wood for that branch of engraving.

[n 1843 he became editor and proprietor of -

in which pub-
lication he was the first in America to prim " ["he
i the Shirt," ■•The Bridge of Sighs," "The
Drop of Gin," and other pieces of a kindred nature,
which afterward became s,, widely known; and
article, entitled "A Period in the History
of ( >ur Planet," he prit I October, 1843,

when tin- name of that eminent scientist was hardly
known on this side of the Atlantic. I>iirin>r the same
year he had an interest in tie I

with the Rev. John II. Agnew and E. Littell, which
work was continued by Mr. Agnew all

and Mr. Sartain thereafter simply engraved

the plates that embellished the monthly numbers.
In the fall of ls|s De purchased a one-half interest
in the /' 1/ i u also a \> H V.i I. pi i

and it became widely known throughout the country
as Sartain's Magazine, during the latter part of its
Mr. Sartain being also its editor. It was
finally merged into another monthly of the sister
city. Besides the literary labors inseparable from
these engagements, he ha- been frequently called on
- | en on various subji cts, more particu-
larly those having relation to art.

His industry has been untiring, and his capacity
for continued labor a surprise to those who possessed
opportunities of knowing his habits. Very many
years ago he had, beyond a doubt, already executed
with his own unassisted hand a greater amount of
work than had ever been accomplished by any one in
the profession during a long lifetime. Many still
living remember the time when the annuals were in
fashion that there was hardly a volume ot' the kind
to he met with that had not all its plates from his

prolific burin. Graham's Magazine during the first and

best years of its existence had a plate every month

by him. -i' too ih,. Eclectic, and his own semi-monthly

one every two week* ; all this in addition to hi* other
engraving and literary work. His rapidity under
pressure may he judged from the manner in which
the portrait-plate of Esparterowas produced in a sud-
den emergency for the number Of the semi-monthly
for November, 1*1". Beginning on the uniform
black mezzotinto ground at past midnight, the plate
was finished, lettering included, when the printers
Came to work at daylight the same morning. Again,

the portrait of sir Robert Peel, in the October num-
ber, 1850, of tin- Eclectic, was begun at ten minutes
before two, from the same state as the preceding, and
at five the same alternoon a finished proof was mailed
to N'w Yoik. I'.ut this was during a period when
his engravings were almost purely in mezzotinto, and
al-o when he controlled the printing of his own




plates. Such rapidity is incompatible with his pres-
ent method of procedure, in which the mezzotinto is
made to form the smallest portion of the process.
All the plates referred to so far were for hooks ; we
will now turn to more important works.

His large framing prints, too, are quite numerous,
several of them as much as three feet in length ;
but to attempt only a mere catalogue would occupy
much space. Prominent among them are " Christ j
Rejected," after West; " The Iron-worker and King
Solomon," after Sehussele ; " Civil War in Missouri,"
after Bingham ; " Homestead of Henry Clay," after
Hamilton ; "John Knox and Mary, Queen of Scots,"
after Leutze ; " Men of Progress, American Inven-
tors," after Sehussele; "The County Election in
Missouri," after Bingham ; " Zeisberger Preaching to
the Indians at Gosgoshunk," after Sehussele; "The
Battle of Gettysburg," after Rothermel (this last a
work of enormous labor), and many others.

Much of his time and attention has been given to
numerous associations in which he held membership.
As a controller of the Artists' Fund Society, from 1835
on, he was always an active member of exhibition
and other committees, and filled successively all the
offices in its gift from president down. For twenty-
three years as director of the Pennsylvania Academy
of the Fine Arts, he was its most active laborer, first
under the presidency of Henry D. Gilpin, then under
that of Caleb Cope, and lastly under that of James L.
Claghorn. During his travels in Europe, undertaken
for his own pleasure and study, he saw personally the
honorary members of the institution, and delivered to
them their diplomas ; this in Spain, Italy, Germany,
France, Belgium, Holland, England, and Scotland,
and availed himself of the opportunity thus afforded
of making better known and appreciated the oldest '
academy of the fine arts in the United States. In
many other prominent institutions of Philadelphia
he has been a manager or director, and vice-
president of the School of Design for Women, having
positively declined the presidency of it, which was
tendered him. Many years ago he was elected an
honorary member of an art society in Amsterdam,
entitled the " Arti et Amicitiae." In addition to many
medals received from different quarters, the king of ':
Italy conferred on him the title of Cavaliere, with a
decoration and the appointment of " Officer of the |
Equestrian Order of the Crown of Italy," correspond-
ing to the English grade of knighthood. This was
on account of services rendered to Italian art during j
his management of the art department of the Cen-
tennial Exhibition at Philadelphia ; but a decoration
received from another foreign prince was solely in
recognition of his artistic skill, namely, "Chevalier
d'honneur," and Commander in the Royal Order of

Without entering particularly into his multitudin-
ous occupations, it ought not to be omitted that his
architectural knowledge and taste have been fre-

quently called in aid of important projects. Among
them, the plans for the arrangement of the galleries
and rooms of both floors of the Pennsylvania Academy
of Fine Arts are from his drawings, prepared at the
request of the building committee of the directors.
He designed the lofty granite monument to Wash-
ington and Lafayette in Monument Cemetery, Phila-
delphia, and superintended its construction ; modeled
the two colossal medallion heads from which the
bronze likenesses were cast, and is the author of the
two admired inscriptions cast in bronze and placed on
opposite sides of the pedestal. Other monuments of
importance in the same cemetery are from his designs,
as is also the steeple on the buildings at the entrance
to the grounds on Broad Street.

After the organization had been completed for
holding the great International Exhibition, in com-
memoration of the hundredth anniversary of the
Declaration of Independence, Mr. Sartain was se-
lected to fill the important and responsible position'
of chief of the bureau of art. The manner in which
the arduous duties were discharged was deemed
worthy of the highest praise, while the economy in
its management made it infinitely less costly than
any other department of the exhibition. The title
and decoration from the Italian sovereign was marked
evidence of appreciation in that quarter.

In the midst of all these occupations, in the course
of a long, industrious life, he has not neglected oppor-
tunities, as they presented themselves, of forming
collections of pictures, prints, and other art materials
of value in his profession, as well as a considerable
accumulation of autograph letters from distinguished
men. The first named were dispersed under a reverse
of fortune in 1852. Among the list is a noteworthy
epistle from Bayard Taylor, dated at Kennett Square,
Chester Co., Pa., when he was in his seventeenth
year, asking Mr. Sartain to receive him as an appren-
tice. Thus we see how near the late representative
of the nation at the German court came to earning
distinction in a path so widely difl'erent from that on
which his reputation now rests.

John Sartain has three children, who are quite dis-
tinguished in art. Samuel Sartain, his eldest son.
born in Philadelphia Oct. 8, 1830, is both a mezzotinto
and line engraver on steel; he studied under the
direction of his father and at the Pennsylvania Acad-
emy of Fine Arts. Before he was seventeen years
of age he engraved a " three-quarter length" portrait
(ten by thirteen inches) of Benjamin West, after the
picture by Harlow. In 1854 he was commissioned by
the Art Union of Philadelphia to engrave for their
annual distribution prints a large plate (eighteen bj
twenty-three inches) entitled "Clear the Track." a
winter coasting scene, after the painting by C. Schus-
sele. Thia engraving secured for him a silver medal
al an exhibition of the Franklin Institute, and a1 the
World's Fair in New York an " honorable mention,

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