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(AMERICAN REVOLUTION--PRELUDE.) [Philip Dawe, artist.] Bostonian's Paying the Excise Man, or Tarring & Feathering. Handcolored mezzotint, 14 3/4 x 10 1/2 inches; dampstaining to lower 2 inches, mount remnants in margins, light wrinkling, 2 short early paper tape repairs on verso. London: Robert Sayer & J. Bennett, 31 October 1774
This print depicts an incident on 25 January 1774 in Boston, just a month after the Boston Tea Party. Loyalist customs official John Malcolm threatened to beat a small boy with a cane. When local patriot George Hewes protested, Malcolm caned him in the forehead and knocked him unconscious. That night a mob dragged Malcolm from his home, stripped him to the waist, tarred and feathered him, threatened to hang him, and forced him to drink repeated toasts of tea to the King and Queen. This print shows a noose hanging from a "Liberty Tree" with the Stamp Act posted upside down. In the background, boxes of tea are being dumped from a ship in the background--believed to be the earliest image of the Boston Tea Party.
The artist Philip Dawe was a student of the great British satirist William Hogarth. This was first in a series of 5 prints he created on the Malcolm incident. In 1904, an entire monograph was devoted to this series of Dawe prints: R.T.H. Halsey's "The Boston Port Bill as Pictured by a Contemporary London Cartoonist," where "The Bostonians" is illustrated facing page 85, and described from pages 82 to 87. Cresswell 670; Reese, Revolutionary Hundred 16 ("One of the most famous political cartoons of the American Revolution").
Provenance: collection of William Gaston (1820-1894), who served as both Mayor of Boston and Governor of Massachusetts; his granddaughter Ruth Gaston Howard (1894-1974); her daughter Anne Howard Karri-Davies (1916-2011); gift to the consignor.
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