Partly-printed Receipt Signed, J.C.Copley. one page, narrow oblong octavo, April, 2, 1787. Together with a printed prospectus of the subscription for the engraving of Copley’s painting, “The Siege and Relief of Gibraltar,” three and one half pages, large quarto, [London], undated.
The receipt is from Mr. John Fornou Tuffen for “the Sum of Two pounds five shillings being One Half of the Subscription for one print of the Print representing the Siege and Relief of Gibraltar, which I promise to deliver according to the Proposals.”
John Copley’s proposed engraving, as stated in the prospectus, is “from the Historical Picture, of the Siege and Relief of Gibraltar – Now Exhibiting in a Pavilion, erected by the gracious Permission of the King, for that Purpose, in the Green Park. This Work executed for the City of London, by Order of the corporation, is to be placed in the Council Chamber of Guildhall, as a Testimony of Respect to the late Lord Heathfield, then Governor of Gibraltar, Earl Howe, Commander of the Fleet, and the Rest of His Majesty’s Officers, Soldiers, and Sailors; For their gallant Conduct displayed in the Defence and Relief of that Important fortress. To be engraved by Francis Bartolozzi, R.A.
“Conditions. I. The DimensionsÖwill be 30 Inches wide, by 28 / Inches high, and its size will render it a proper Centre Print to those of the late Earl of Chatham, and another of King Charles the First, demanding, in the House of Commons, A.D. 1641-42, the Delivery of the Five impeached Members. II. The Price to Subscribers, Four Guineas, two to be paid at the time of subscribing, and other on delivery of the Prints. III. The Prints to be delivered in the order they are subscribed for. IV. The price to Non-subscribers will be advanced. / Subscriptions are received at the Place of Exhibition, and at Mr. Copley’s, George-Street, Hanover-Square.
“The Painting is 25 feet wide, by 22 / feet high, divided into two Compartments; the upper describing the Victory of the Garrison, and in the moment of their triumph, a display of humanity, that highly exalts the British character; it is composed of three large groupes; that on the right contains the Portraits of the principal British and Hanoverian Officers, of the size of life, who are assembled on the Rampart (the action being over) to view the dreadful scene which ensued from the battering Ships being set on fire. Lord Heathfield, early on the morning of the 14th of September, is seen mounted on a white horse, (agreeably to historical fact,) in conversation with Generals Boyd, De La Motte and Green; pointing to Sir Roger Curtis, and a detachment of British seamen, who, at the hazard of their own lives, are rescuing their vanquished enemies from destruction. Several of the seamen are seen at the stern of one of the battering Ships, striking the Spanish Ensign; whilst others generously relieve a number of the unfortunate Spaniards from a sinking wreck : these form a second groupe, on the left. The third groupe occupy the centre, where a number of the enemy are represented in extreme distress, endeavouring to escape from a floating battery that is enveloped in flames. At a distance is a view of the Camp of the allied Army, and the head quarters of the Duke de Crillon. In the under Compartment is represented the Relief of Gibraltar, by the British Fleet, under the command of Earl Howe; on the right is seen the Rock of Gibraltar and a number of Store ships entering the Bay, protected by a Detachment of the Fleet, which extends itself through the Picture, to the left.
“At a distance is a view of the Bay of Gibraltar; and the combined Fleets of France and Spain appear at anchor.-The Spanish Coast terminates the view. Portraits of Earl Howe and Admiral Barrington are placed on the sides of this compartment.
“The extended Dimensions of the Engraving, (which will be one fourth larger than that of the late Lord Chatham, and the vast assemblage of objects, which a scene so complicated, must embrace, having necessarily augmented the expence of producing it, to upwards of Three Thousand Five Hundred Pounds; the Price of the Prints has been obliged to be proprotionately advanced. Eminently gratified in the Honor of being called upon to produce a Public Monument worthyÖofÖLondon, and dedicated to the Courage and Magnanimity of the British Army and FleetÖMr. Copley feels it incumbent on him, thus to take up the whole Work on the most liberal and extended principles. Hence every idea of expence has given way to obtain the first abilities to execute it.”
A woodcut illustration depicting several of the personalities in the painting is spread across the top third portion of two pages. Sir Roger Curtis (the commanding officer afloat) and Captain Bradshaw Smith of the navy are shown on page 3, and on page 4 are General Lord Heathfield (the governor on his horse); lieutenant governor Sir Robert Boyd; Major General De la Motte commanding the Hanoverian Brigade; Major General Sir William Green, the chief engineer; Major General Picton; Col. Dachenhaufen of Reden’s Hanoverian Regiment; Col. Hugo; Col. Schleppegrel; Col. Lewis, commandant of the artillery; Col. Trigge of the 12th Regiment; Lieut. Col. Vaughan of the 39th Regiment; Col. Craig of the 56th Regiment; Major Brown of the 58th Regiment; Lieut. Col. Lindsay of the 73rd Regiment; Lieut Col. Hardy, the quarter master general; Major Vallotton, the governor’s first aide de camp; Lieut. Holloway, aid de camp to the chief engineer; Major Peryn of the 12th Regiment; and Capt. Drinkwater of the late 72nd and author of the History of the Siege of Gibraltar. Earl Howe and Admiral Barrington are also depicted separately in the left and right margins of pages 3 and 4 respectively.
John Copley, who is generally acclaimed as the finest artist of colonial America, is a painter of portraits and historical subjects. “Following a fashion set by [Benjamin] West and others, John Copley began to paint historical pieces as well as portraits.Ö But the artist’s fame as a historical painter was made by ‘The Death of Lord Chatham’ [to which he refers in the prospectus.] Copley’s adventures in historical painting were the more successful because of his painstaking efforts to obtain good likenesses of personages and correct accessories of their periods. He traveled much in England to make studies of old portraits and actual localities. At intervals came from his studio came such pieces asÖ’The Siege of Gibraltar.” Between 1776 and 1815 he sent forty-three paintings to exhibitions of the Royal Academy, of which he was elected as associated member in the former year. His election to full membership occurred in 1783″ [Dictionary of American Biography].
Matted in cream and brick with a portrait of John Copley. The antiqued beaded gilt frame measures 25 3/4 inches wide by 25 1/4 inches high.
This item is associated with these categories in our inventory:
- American Revolution