Presented is an 1815 engraving by Samuel Seymour, entitled The U.S. Frigate United States Capturing His Britannic Majesty's Frigate Macedonian. The print is after a similarly-titled oil painting, Engagement between the United States and the Macedonian, by Thomas Birch. This hand colored engraving was published by James Webster in Philadelphia. It depicts the October 25, 1812 battle fought near Madeira between the US Navy heavy frigate USS United States and the Royal Navy frigate HMS Macedonian. The battle resulted in the capture of the HMS Macedonian, which became the first British warship to be brought to an American harbor as a prize. A medallion portrait of Commodore Decatur appears in the dedicated caption at the bottom margin.
Thomas Birch painted the naval battle at least three times. An 1813 original painting of the scene was displayed in the Oval Office at the White House from 1961 to 1963 during the presidency of John F. Kennedy. After being displayed at the White House, it was held at museums in Philadelphia and later sold at Sotheby’s May 2008 auction for $481,000. A slightly different and slightly larger version, also attributed to Birch in 1813, has been held by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, since 1978. A third version, also painted by Birch in 1813, is held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Two early period engravings of Birch’s paintings were issued. The first to be published was an engraving by Benjamin Tanner, published in October of 1813. Less than two years later, Samuel Seymour engraved a version of Birch’s painting, which was published by James Webster in Philadelphia in May of 1815. The engraving presented here is this Seymour engraving, although it is missing the “Philadelphia May 1815” imprint line called for in Stauffer 2879, so it is most likely a second impression, published due to the success of the first edition.
Good condition overall. Hand-colored engraving. Engraving was spot mounted by a previous owner to modern board. Paper has minimal foxing and wear and color is still vibrant. Print Dimensions: 21 ½” H x 28” W. Framed dimensions: 34 1/4” H x 40 1/4” W x 1” D.