Sep 26, 2019 - Sale 2517

Sale 2517 - Lot 13

Estimate: $ 12,000 - $ 18,000
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION--PRELUDE.) Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression. Hand-colored engraving, 9 1/2 x 13 inches; tightly trimmed, folds, foxing, 2 1/2-inch closed tear in lower left, slight loss at edges, most notably a 2 x 1/2-inch piece of the lower right corner, laid down on paper. [Philadelphia or New York]: [Henry Dawkins?], circa 1774

Additional Details

In the wake of the Boston Tea Party, British leaders stare down a party of hostile American Indians across the Atlantic. Merchants on both sides complain of the loss of income. Philadelphia merchant John Kearsley, a notorious loyalist, stands with Lord North, Lord Bute, and other Englishmen, counselled by none other than "Bezlebub, the prince of Devils," hoping that the Crown might "cram the Tea down the Throats of the New Yorkers." The Goddess of Liberty looks on approvingly on the Americans from above: "Behold the Ardour of my Sons, and let not their brave Actions be buried in Oblivion." Below, a group of "the Sons of Liberty, represented by the Natives of America, in their savage garb," urge "Lead us on to Liberty or Death."
No engraver or publisher is given, but E.P. Richardson argued persuasively in his 1974 article "Four Political Prints" (American Art Journal 6:2, pages 36-39) that the cartoon was an American production, likely done in Philadelphia between late December 1773 and April 1774. The American Antiquarian Society credits the publisher as Henry Dawkins of Philadelphia. See also: Dolmetsch, Rebellion and Reconciliation: Satirical Prints on the Revolution at Williamsburg 31; National Humanities Center, Colonists Respond to the Tea Act & the Boston Tea Party, page 12; Parker, Wellsprings of a Nation, 135. Not in Cresswell; we know of no other hand-colored examples.