[Chauncey M. Leonard, Chief Engineer of the Newburgh, New York Fire Dept.]
[Chauncey M. Leonard, Chief Engineer of the Newburgh, New York Fire Dept.]
[Chauncey M. Leonard, Chief Engineer of the Newburgh, New York Fire Dept.]
[Chauncey M. Leonard, Chief Engineer of the Newburgh, New York Fire Dept.]
[Chauncey M. Leonard, Chief Engineer of the Newburgh, New York Fire Dept.]

[Chauncey M. Leonard, Chief Engineer of the Newburgh, New York Fire Dept.]

[New York, 1870–1873.]. Hand-colored albumen print, in a fancy firefighting-themed frame with gilt gesso and applied pot-metal ornamentation.

A remarkable piece of 19th century American photographica, being a hand-colored studio photograph of Newburgh, New York fire chief Chauncey Leonard, in a striking and elaborate firefighting-themed frame.

Leonard is shown wearing a heavy overcoat, sitting at ease beside a table upon which rests his silver trumpet and firefighter’s hat bearing the word “Chief,” his initials (“C.M.L.”), and a painting of a fire pump. Leonard’s face is painted with a light gray wash over the skin tones to suggest that he has just come from a fire with sooty face. The colorist has even left a band of flesh unaffected by soot across his upper forehead, which would have been protected by his helmet. The gold firefighting-themed frame features applied hoses, water tanks, ladders, helmets, shields, trumpets, axes, foliage, and more. This specialty frame was very likely manufactured in New York. While clearly rare, we have learned of at least one other example in a private collection. Such frames were probably marketed directly to fire departments, municipalities seeking to honor their firefighters, and possibly to photographers.

Born in Newburgh, New York, Chauncey M. Leonard (1825–1874) was educated at Newburgh Academy and became a member of the old volunteer fire department of New York in his early adulthood while learning his trade of painter. Leonard was employed as a painter by E.T. Comstock, and following Comstock’s death formed the firm Ward & Leonard with Peter Ward, which later became Ward, Leonard & Co. Leonard joined Ringgold Hose Co. in 1853 as an assistant foreman, and in 1861 was elected as chief engineer of the Newburgh Fire Dept. He was reelected to this same position until 1874, when he became mayor of the city of Newburgh. Leonard was an honorary member of the National Association of Chief Engineers and an advanced member of the Masonic order.

A spectacular piece of firefighting photographica.

REFERENCES: Headley, Russel, Ed. The History of Orange County, New York (Middletown, New York: Van Deusen and Elms Publishers, 1908).

CONDITION: Expert repairs to the frame; image very good, minor wear.

Item #5729

Price: $3,750.00

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