Auction Closing: March 30, 2024 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time
Lot Number: 101
Estimate Range: $10,000 - $12,000
c. 1761 Extremely Rare Original Colonial Boston Harbor Engraving titled “A View of the City of Boston the Capital of NEW ENGLAND, in North America.” After Gov. Pownal

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c. 1761 French & Indian War Era Colonial America, Original Engraving titled: “A View of the City of Boston the Capital of NEW ENGLAND, in North America.” After Governor Thomas POWNALL’s Drawing (1722-1805), printed for John Bowles, Robert Sayer, Thomas Jefferys, Carington Bowles and Henry Parker, (c.1761), Copper Plate Engraving by P.C. Canot after a painting by Pugh from a design by Thomas Pownall, Framed, Choice Crisp Near Mint.

An important historic Engraving of Colonial Boston from the "Scenographia Americana" series: this example having a superb appearance with a strong sharp impression, crisp margins, well printed on extremely clean, never folded, laid period paper. An original 18th century Colonial America French & Indian War Era, Boston Harbor & City Scene. The original artist design being by the Royal Governor Thomas POWNALL (“Pownel” within the engravings text, who was himself a skilled artist and mapmaker). This Copper-Plate Engraving of Colonial Boston is fully titled:

“A View of the City of Boston the Capital of NEW ENGLAND, in North America. - Vue de la Ville de Boston, Capitale de la Nouvelle Angleterre, dans l'Amrique Septentrionale. / Drawn on the Spot by his Excellency, Governor Pownal; Painted by Mr. Pugh, & Engraved by P.C. Canot.” / “London, Printed for John Bowles, at No.13 in Cornhill; Rob(er)t Sayer, No.53 in Fleet Street; Tho(ma)s Jefferys the Corner of St. Martins Lane in the Strand; Carington Bowles, at No.69 in St. Pauls Church Yard; & Hen(r)y Parker, at No.82 in Cornhill.”

One can easily see the original outer Copper-plate outlines in the outer margin selvage, which are still nicely embossed from the press within the very clean heavy laid period paper when made. The embossed outer plate marks measure about 14.5” x 20.75” within the overall Sheet size of 14.75” x 21.5” (by sight) having all designs crisp, distinct and sharply impressed. Professionally modern matted and framed under special UV Plexiglas to overall 27” x 21.25”.

Engraving shows a View of Boston, Massachusetts from Cambridge, looking across the Charles River; a shortened view with reduced skyline. This view taken from the vantage point of Castle William across the Boston Harbor to the southeast, from left to right one makes out South Cove, South Battery, Fort Hill, a line of vessels docked along Long Wharf, and the mouth of the Charles River. Behind Long Wharf are visible the three peaks of the Trimontane, of which only Beacon Hill remains today. In the near foreground the fortifications of Castle William command the shipping channel between Castle and Governors islands, through which two British naval vessels have just safely passed.

Thomas Pownall's drawing of Boston, here ably engraved by Pierre Charles Canot (1710-1777), was one of Six prints in the “Scenographia Americana” series that were based on Pownall's original sketches. This particular image was worked up into a painting by Pugh and it was from this that the engraving was made by P. C. Canot. The complete Scenographia Americana (with a total of 28 plates) is a legendary rarity: No copies are listed as having been sold at auction in the past thirty years. Individual engraved prints are therefore considered all that a collector can hope for. The present image of Boston is one of the best and most important.

This important circa 1761, “A View of the City of Boston the Capital of NEW ENGLAND, in North America. -” is the finest we have seen, being in excellent clean crisp condition and beautifully framed, ready for hanging on display. References: Deak, 106; Stokes and Haskell, American Historical Prints, 1758-B-86; Winsor, Memorial History of Boston, page II:127.
Governor Thomas Pownall, one of the few sympathetic of American views Royal Colonial Governors in North America. Pownall was also an artist, author and mapmaker.

He first came to America as secretary of the Governor of New York, Sir Danvers Osborn, in 1753, who committed suicide a few days after arriving. Thomas Pownall stayed on in America and became deeply involved in Colonial politics during these critical years of the French and Indian War era.

Pownall contributed to and supported William Pitt's strategy in the War against the French and was appointed Royal Governor of Massachusetts, replacing Willam Shirley, in August of 1757. He was at first very popular, energetically raising troops and prosecuting the war with the French. However, political rivalry and objections to his own rather free lifestyle and manners led to his retirement from the position at his own request, then returning to England in 1760.

Pownell remained a staunch supporter of the progressive American causes as they arose in the 1760s. Interestingly, he was also very much in favor of Emancipation of the Slaves in America. Pownall was a long-time friend of Benjamin Franklin.