c. 1797 President John Adams as Engraved by H. Houston
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c. 1797 18th Century Federal Period, American Stipple Engraving of President John Adams, Engraved by H. Houston, in the rarest 10.25” x 14.25” size, (Philadelphia), Framed, Choice Very Fine.
This Stipple Engraving of President John Adams measures 10.25” x 14.25” (by sight), framed to an overall size of 20.25” x 24.5”. Image shows a seated Adams holding a book. Text below image reads:
“Drawn & Engraved by H. Houston. / His Excellency John Adams President of the United States of America / Respectfully Dedicated to the Servers of their Country and Firm Supporters of its Constitution / Published by D. Kennedy, 228 Market St. Philada.”
We located another similar example in this size, located at a gallery offered at $2,500. Faint mat toning, minor dampstaining at upper right, crease through caption area. Brass plaque affixed to frame reads: “Ex Coll: Elton M. Hyder, Jr.” See: Stauffer 1454. Houston was among the earliest skilled stipple engravers to work in the United States. Most likely a native of Ireland, Houston worked in Philadelphia in the late 1790s where he produced engraved portraits of George Washington, David Rittenhouse, T. Kosciusko and at least two of John Adams. In his Portraits of John and Abigail Adams, Andrew Oliver discussed both images of Adams and concludes they represent “good representations of the original” oil portrait by William Williams.
According to Stauffer, Houston also engraved a second portrait of John Adams that was published on September 1, 1797. Also from Stauffer, H. H. Houston was one of the earliest “really good” stipple-engravers of portraits who worked in the United States. He probably came here from Ireland, as the "Hibernian Magazine" of Dublin, contains portraits very similar in execution to his known work and signed, H. Houston.
Houston appears in Philadelphia in 1796; and as his latest dated work was done in 1798, his stay here was a comparatively short one. He engraved two separate plates of John Adams, and portaits of Washington, Rittenhouse, Kemble as Richard III, Kosciusko, etc. The first state of the John Adams plate published in Philadelphia in 1797 is lettered H. H. Houston, Sculpt. Another plate is signed H. I. Houston, but H. Houston is his more usual signature.