Calligraphic portrait of Washington


John I. Donlevy. “Sacred to the Memory of the Illustrious Champion of Liberty General George Washington First President of the United States of America.” New York: John Donlevy, circa 1832. Engraving. 16 1/2 x 14. Wear in lower left and some minor surface blemishes. Expertly conserved and overall very good appearance. Hart: 862a; Wick, pp. 58-62.


Calligraphic illustrations were popular means for engravers to demonstrate their skill, and that is well evidenced by this tour-de-force by John I. Donlevy. Donlevy, who lists himself as an “Intaglio-chromographic and Electrographic Engraver,” used his engraving and calligraphic skill to make this memorial image of Washington based on Stuart’s “Athenaeum” painting. The face of the portrait is a straight engraving, but the rest of the bust is done with effusive swirls, and the writing giving the title, as well as Washington’s dates, is done in various elaborate calligraphy styles. A nice example of a memorial for Washington and a particularly fine example of American engraving.