This nineteenth-century engraving shows a liberty pole being raised in a town square in 1776, while a sign bearing the face of King George III is removed in the background. The riotous scene is indicative of the public mood prior to the American Revolution, when such protests and dramatic gatherings were common place. The engraving is after an earlier painting by American artist F. A. Chapman. The print is engraved by John C. McRae.
Liberty poles were popular symbols of protest during the American Revolution. A wooden pole adorned with flags or a Phrygian cap–a symbol of liberty–was driven into the ground and often became a contentious symbol between British loyalists and Patriots. During the Whiskey Rebellion, 1791-1794, liberty poles were erected by tax resisters, and the ritual was repeated during the Fries Rebellion in the counties surrounding Philadelphia. They continued to be raised in the Early Republic era to invoke Revolutionary sentiment.
Chapman, an American painter, was born in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, on April 18, 1818. He moved to New York early in his life, where he studied painting under Professor S.F.B. Morse. In 1850, he worked in Brooklyn, practicing in the art of stained glass. His work in this medium includes the window in the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn.
Chapman was founder and first president of the Brooklyn Art Association and contributed many paintings to the exhibitions of that society for some years before his death in 1891.
Several of Chapman’s oil paintings were engraved or lithographed, notably “The Perils of Our Forefathers,” The Day we Celebrate,” “Raising the Liberty Pole,” “Discovery of the Hudson,” and “The Battle of Chancellorsville.”
Original engraving, with addition later hand-coloring. Engraving has full margins, and title and publication information at bottom. The paper is healthy, with no serious flaws, tears, or stains.
Print is artfully framed to conservation standards, with an acid-free green mat, gold beaded spandrel, linen top mat, and custom-built black wooden frame. Framed dimensions: 36"H x 43 1/2" W x 1 1/2" D.
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