Lot 243: c. 1800, George Washington Memorial Textile
October 29, 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
Exceedingly Rare George Washington Memorial Textile As Illustrated In "Threads of History" Number 20 - Page 56
c. 1800, George Washington Pictorial Memorial Textile, Printed in Brown upon Cotton Linen, entitled: "SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF THE GREAT & GOOD GEORGE WASHINGTON, FIRST PRESIDENT of the Thirteen United STATES of AMERICA, and Resqectfully Addressed to the People of...," Kerchief, Probably of English Manufacture, Repairs, Very Fine.
This important, historic Printed Textile measures approximately 24.5" x 21.5" (sight) being framed within a simple golden-glit wooden frame to an overall of 26.5" x 23.5". Red ink on off-white linen which has evenly aged. Listed on page 56 of "Threads of History - Americana Recorded on Cloth - 1775 to the Present" by Collins, and illustrating the example in the Smithsonian Institution as item number 20. There it describes this textile as being c. 1800 (produced just after Washington's Death in December of 1799), and as, in full:
"In the center is a monument to the memory of Washington surrounded by grieving figures, including an officer, probably French; a clergyman; a soldier; Fame; and an Indian. The scroll border contains the names of the original States plus Kentucky. For some reason Vermont, admitted to the Union is 1790, was not included. Inscriptions are eloquent testimonials to Washington's greatness, given by the Minister of the Court of France, Washington's secretary, a poet, M. Brissot de Warville, The Court of Prussia, and eminent members of the British Parliament."
This current example has the general appearance of the Smithsonian's specimen illustrated in "Threads." It is carefully laid down on thin backing for display within its frame. The linen has expected light uniform tone with a few trivial scattered deeper tone spots and a number of minor small thins and sewn repairs and restorations with conservation performed over time. This includes some being sewn and/or stitched with others having underlying fabric of similar color for blending and added reinforcement. The result is that this exceedingly rare George Washington Memorial Textile has nice overall eye appeal. A truly rare and important centerpiece worthy of any serious George Washington, historic Textile and/or rare Americana collection. The very first example of this remarkable, historic textile we have offered.
Jacques Pierre Brissot (15 January 1754 - 31 October 1793), was born at Chartres, France where his father was an inn-keeper. He received an education, and entered the office of a lawyer at Paris. He married Flicit Dupont (1759-1818), who translated English works, including Oliver Goldsmith and Robert Dodsley. They lived in London, and had three children. His first works, Thorie des lois criminelles (1781) and Bibliothque philosophique du lgislateur (1782), dealt with philosophy of law topics, and showed the deep influence of ethical precepts theoretised by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In the preface of Thorie des lois criminelles, Brissot explains that he submitted an outline of the book to Voltaire and quotes his answer from April 13, 1778.
Brissot became known as a writer, and was engaged on the Mercure de France, on the Courrier de l'Europe, and on other papers. Devoted to the cause of humanity, he proposed a plan for the collaboration of all European intellectuals, and started in London a paper, Journal du Lyce de Londres, which was to be the organ of their views. The plan was unsuccessful, and soon after his return to Paris Brissot was placed in the Bastille on the charge of having published a work against the government.
He obtained his release after four months, and again devoted himself to pamphleteering, but was forced to retire for a time to London. On this second visit he became acquainted with some of the leading Abolitionists, and founded later in Paris an anti-slavery group Society of the Friends of the Blacks, of which he was president during 1790 and 1791. As an agent of this society he paid a visit to the United States in 1788, and subsequently published in 1791 his Nouveau Voyage dans les tats-Unis de l'Amrique septentrionale (3 vols.). Brissot believed that American ideals could help improve French government. At one point he was interested in uprooting his family to America. Thomas Jefferson, ambassador in Paris at the time was familiar enough with him to note, "Warville is returned charmed with our country. He is going to carry his wife and children to settle there." Although for Brissot, such an emigration never happened. The rising ferment of revolution sucked him back into schemes for progress through political journalism that would consequently make him a household name.
From the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789, Brissot became one of its most vocal supporters. He edited the Patriote franais from 1789 to 1793, and took a prominent part in politics. Famous for his speeches at the Jacobin Club, he was elected a member of the municipality of Paris, then of the Legislative Assembly, and later of the National Convention. Shortly thereafter, Brissot began to align himself with the more right-leaning Girondins who were often viewed as the 'war party.' The Girondins or Brissotins as they were often called, were a group of loosely affiliated individuals, many of whom came from Gironde, rather than an organized party with a clear ideology.
Following the arrest of King Louis XVI on charges of corruption, Brissot and the Girondins championed the idea of keeping him under arrest both as hostage and as a bargaining chip, meanwhile the Montagnards argued for his immediate execution. Brissot was undoubtedly against the decision to execute the King for two reasons. He believed that once Louis XVI was executed all of France's foreign negotiating power would be lost and he feared a massive royalist rebellion.
Brissot's stance on the King's execution, the war with Austria and his moderate views on the Revolution inevitably led to intense friction between the Girondins and Montagnards. Brissot attempted to rein in the violence and excesses of the Revolution by calling for the reinstatement of the monarchy, a ploy which landed on deaf ears. His party eventually fell to the Montagnards and the decisive blow came when his name appeared on a list of proscribed and a warrant was issued for his arrest on 2 June 1793; Brissot attempted to escape in disguise, but was arrested at Moulins. Brissot was very worried that they were going to kill him, so he fled with others. He was found without a passport, along with many other members of the Girondin. After a trial during which his demeanour was quiet and dignified, Brissot and several other Girondists were guillotined in Paris, his corpse was disposed of in the Madeleine Cemetery.