Thomas Hicks. “Authors of the United States.” New York: Thomas Hicks, 1866. Engraving by A.H. Ritchie. 19 3/8 x 34 1/2. Two very light, old vertical stains. Very good condition and appearance.
A superior engraving of the most famous American authors of the middle of the nineteenth century. This print was based on a painting by Thomas Hicks and was one of four paintings commissioned by William P. Wright, intended to show the prominent artists, men of science, authors, and businessmen of the United States. Thomas Hicks was a native of Bucks County who studied at the Pennsylvania Academy and National Academy of Design. Around mid-century Hicks set up a studio as a portrait painter in New York City and many prominent persons of the age sat for him. This print is really a set piece showing off Hicks’ portraits. It shows authors of the United States sitting and standing in a classical setting complete with statues of famous English writers including Shakespeare and Chaucer. Statues on the upper balcony are of the founders of modern vernacular literate: Goethe, Shakespeare, and Dante. Each is clearly and accurately rendered and the whole makes a most impressive image. This engraving was by A.H. Ritchie, one of the best historic print engravers of the mid-nineteenth century. Ritchie is well known for the clarity and richness of his engravings, and this is a fine example of his work.
The authors shown, left to right, include:
Front row (sitting): Sedgwick, Sigourney, Southworth, Longfellow, Bryant, Halleck, Irving, Dana, Fuller, Channing, Stowe, Kirkland, Whittier
Second row (standing): Kennedy, Holmes, Willis, Mitchell, Morris, Poe, Tuckerman, Hawthorne, Simms, Cooke, Hoffman, Cooper, Prescott, Bancroft, Parke, Goodwin, Motley, Beecher, Curtis, Emerson, Lowell, Boker, Bayard, Taylor, Saxe
Group on left staircase: Ritchie, Prentice, Cary, Kendall
Group on right staircase: Cozzens, Gallagher, Stoddard, Welby