[John Sartain:] Description of West’s Great Picture, Christ Rejected, Now on Exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts…
1865 Prospectus for a steel engraving of Benjamin West’s monumental painting, Christ Rejected
In 1865, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts exhibited American expatriate painter Benjamin West’s monumental oil on canvas Christ Rejected (1814).¹
Taking advantage of its public exhibition, Philadelphia engraver John Sartain (1808–1897) produced this three-page description of the painting’s elements and composition.
His concluding paragraphs cleverly remind the public of Benjamin West’s eminence as a painter in England and of his birth near Philadelphia: “Benjamin West is eminently worthy of being recorded with affectionate interest by all, but more especially by Philadelphians who have pride in their native city and the distinguished men who have reflected honor upon it by their worth or genius.” (p3)
Sartain proposes to publish an engraving of the painting:
This noble painting has been carefully engraved on steel, of large dimensions, but not yet printed, and is now preparing for publication by subscription. A proof hangs in the gallery, and a book is opened to receive the names of such as may desire to subscribe. John Sartain, 728 Sansom St.
The prospectus lists four issues of the engraving to be published, ranging in price from $10 to $30: “Plain Impressions;” “Plain Proof Impressions, full lettering;” “Proofs on India Paper;” and “Proofs on India Paper, before lettering (signed Artist’s Proofs).” Notice how attention has turned from artist Benjamin West or engraver John Sartain to artist John Sartain.
Sartain’s prospectus was appended to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts’ 1865 annual exhibition catalog. Here, however, is the separately issued prospectus.
Description: [John Sartain:] Description of West’s Great Picture, Christ Rejected, Now on Exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts…
[Philadelphia, 1865]. 3pp. Brochure. 8 x 5 inches. Bifolium. Some creasing; light foxing; very good.
OCLC: 1 copy at APS. HSP also holds a copy, “3 p…(8vo),” which they dateline “[Philadelphia, 1865].” Note. 1. Catalogue of the Forty-Second Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts… (Philadelphia, ), pp1–3 (at end).