Lot 220: c. 1776 Benedict Arnold Reverse Glass Transfer Print After Plate by Thomas Hart
October 29, 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
Rare Benedict Arnold Portrait Glass Reverse Transfer Print
c. 1776 Revolutionary War Period, Benedict Arnold Portrait Hand-Colored Reverse Glass Transfer Print, After Plate by Thomas Hart, Very Fine.
This impressive original mezzotint-based Reverse Glass Transfer Print depicts Benedict Arnold. It measures 8.25" x 9.5" and is a famous turncoat and traitor of the Revolutionary War. In period wood frame, 9.75" x 11", the image slightly cropped from the plate issued by Thomas Hart. Arnold was promoted to Brigadier General for his role in reaching Quebec, and he maintained an ineffectual siege of the city until he was replaced by Major General David Wooster in April 1776. Benedict Arnold's pose seen here is based on the famous depiction known as the Hart Engraving, reputed to be the earliest portrait of the later-treasonous American Continental Army General placed in command of West Point. The engraving was by London portraitist Thomas Hart was issued on March 26, 1776 with the full title: "Col. Arnold Who Commanded the Provincial Troops Sent to Quebec Through the Wilderness of Canada and Was Wounded in Storming That City Under General Montgomery." This image, with a slightly turned Benedict Arnold in the foreground shows Quebec City in Canada in the background. The image was widely distributed in Europe and the American Colonies. The original engraved plate currently resides in the collection of the British Museum, London. Arnold's Portrait appears in excellent condition with only minor paint loss around margin edges of the glass. Not examined outside of frame. An important, historic and absolutely wonderful image of Arnold, perfect for hanging on display in any period collection.
The Second Continental Congress authorized an invasion of Quebec, in part on the urging of Arnold - but he was passed over for command of the expedition. Arnold then went to Cambridge, Massachusetts and suggested to George Washington a second expedition to attack Quebec City via a wilderness route through present-day Maine.
Arnold received a colonel's commission in the Continental Army for this expedition. He left Cambridge in September 1775 with 1,100 men. Arnold arrived before Quebec City in November, after a difficult passage in which 300 men turned back and another 200 died en route. He and his men were joined by Richard Montgomery's small army and participated in the December 31 assault on Quebec City in which Montgomery was killed and Arnold's leg was shattered.
His chaplain Rev. Samuel Spring carried him to the makeshift hospital at the Htel Dieu. Arnold was promoted to Brigadier General for his role in reaching Quebec, and he maintained an ineffectual siege of the city until he was replaced by Major General David Wooster in April 1776.