British troops enter New York City


Francois Xavier Habermann. “L’Entré triumphale de Troupes royales a Nouvelle Yorck.” [Triumphal Entry of the British Troops into New York.] Title also in German below image. Augsburg, ca. 1776. 8 1/4 x 14 1/2. Etching. Original hand color. Very good condition. Variation on Cresswell: 267.


A contemporary of the American Revolution, a scene of the British entering New York on September 17, 1776, in the wake of the American retreat from the city. This print is a perspective view, or “vue d’optiques,” which was a special type of popular print published in Europe during the eighteenth century. These prints were a form of entertainment meant to be viewed through a device called an “optical machine” or an “optique.” A number of perspective prints depicted the American Revolution for a European audience hungry for news of the strange events in the British colonies. The images were not, however, accurate, but rather are creations of the artist’s mind based on the accounts he would have received. The street scenes, for instance, are based on a typical European city of the day, not New York City. The prints do, however, beautifully reflect the European understanding of events across the Atlantic, events that were of great interest to Germans, French and the British when these prints were produced.