Item #7474 John Bull and the Baltimoreans. William Charles, artist and engraver.
John Bull and the Baltimoreans.

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Charles, William, artist and engraver.

John Bull and the Baltimoreans.

Philadelphia, [1814]. Etching and roulette, 10.25” x 14.25” plus margins. CONDITION: Good, various tears in margins expertly repaired on verso with paper pulp, old creases through outer portions of image now flattened and only faintly visible, crease in bottom margin into title.

A marvelous War of 1812 satire by Philadelphia printmaker and caricaturist William Charles, showing the defenders of Baltimore driving off a superior number of British soldiers near Fort McHenry.

Three battling Baltimoreans appear on the left, one of whom has punctured the now bleeding behind of John Bull with a bayonet, as “Johnny” brings up the rear, as it were, of the retreating British. As noted by Reilly, this print “portrays the repulsion of the Royal Army at Fort McHenry and the gallant performance of the American militia there…members of the American Fifth Regiment (at left) pursue a disorderly troop of British and Highland soldiers toward the right.” This is one of a series of three etchings Charles made depicting conflicts on land between the Americans and the British during the war. These include the present print as well his Johnny Bull and the Alexandrians and John Bull Before New Orleans. Here Charles contrasts the courage of the Baltimoreans with the cowardice of the citizens of Alexandria as depicted in his Johnny Bull and the Alexandrians, with John Bull remarking “Mercy! mercy on me_What fellows those Baltimoreans are_After the example of the Alexandrians I thought I had nothing to do but enter the town and carry off the booty_And here is nothing but defeat and disgrace!!!”

Scottish-born engraver, etcher, and caricaturist William Charles (1776–1820) emigrated to the U.S. where he practiced his trade from 1806 until his death. Best known for his political cartoons concerning the War of 1812, Charles published political caricatures in England as early as 1803 prior to his emigration, many of these prints addressing Bonapart’s threatened invasion of England. Charles is alleged to have left England to skirt the consequences of prosecution for caricaturing certain city magistrates. After living in New York City from the time of his arrival until 1814, he moved to Philadelphia where he operated a print and book shop. Weitenkampf notes that “The most noteworthy caricatures of the War of 1812 were prints by William Charles… they have a rough humor which no doubt made them popular.”

REFERENCES: Reilly 1814-4; Weitenkampf, Frank. American Graphic Art (1924), pp. 19; Lanmon, Lorraine Dwelling. “William Charles and His War of 1812 Caricatures” in Philadelphia Printmaking : American Prints Before 1860 (West Chester, Pa., 1976), pp. 104–105; “William Charles (1776–1820),” Dictionary of American Biography.

Item #7474

Price: $3,500.00

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