Item #8410 U. S. Frigate Constitution, of 44 Guns. William Lynn, draftsman, engraver Abel Bowen.
U. S. Frigate Constitution, of 44 Guns.

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Lynn, William, draftsman; Abel Bowen, engraver.

U. S. Frigate Constitution, of 44 Guns.

Boston: Publ. by Wm. Lynn, [ca. 1812]. Aquatint and line engraving, 16.75” x 21” plus margins. CONDITION: Good, recently backed on Japanese tissue, restoration to marginal losses at corners, spotting and toning to margins.

A rare and bold view of “Old Iron Sides” by the noted and influential engraver Abel Bowen, published in the immediate wake of the ship’s rise to fame during the War of 1812.

Built in Hartts Navy Yard in Boston and launched in 1797, the USS Constitution earned widespread admiration following her victory over the HMS Guerriere in August of 1812, when she was dubbed “Old Iron Sides” for the remarkable capacity of her oaken sides to withstand cannon-fire without suffering serious damage. The Constitution returned to Boston that October, where she was received with much fanfare. This marvelous engraving shows the Constitution, peopled with some seven small figures (two aloft in the rigging), proudly flying the stars and stripes.

The young Abel Bowen (1790–1850), an engraver from New York who had established himself in Boston the same month that the battle took place, likely produced this work when the ship returned to her home port. “Undoubtedly the most attractive engraving by Abel Bowen,” (Olds), it is executed after a drawing by William Lynn—a Boston rigger, according to the Proceedings of the Bostonian Society—and is notable for its precise and extremely detailed depiction of the Constitution’s rigging.

In 1816 Bowen published “The Naval Monument,” illustrated with copper and wood engravings of naval battles during the War of 1812. In the early 1820s he collaborated with New England Renaissance Man Rufus Porter on his Revolving Almanack, and in 1834 helped establish the American Engraving and Printing Co., which, as the Boston Bewick Co., later published the American Magazine, devoted to the promotion of wood engraving in America. Bowen shaped the next generation of Boston engravers through his tutelage of Hammatt Billings, Nathaniel Dearborn, William Croome, and others.

REFERENCES: Grolier 214; Olds 379; Stauffer 233; The Bostonian Society. Proceedings of the Bostonian Society at the Annual Meeting, January 20, 1925, p. 17.

Item #8410

Price: $12,500.00

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