Catalog Archive
Auction 145, Lot 287

"A View of Bethlem, the Great Moravian Settlement in the Province of Pennsylvania / Vue de Bethlem, Principal Etablissement des Freres Moraves dans la Province de Pennsylvania", Pownall, Thomas

Subject: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Period: 1761 (dated)

Publication: Scenographia Americana

Color: Black & White

20.3 x 12.9 inches
51.6 x 32.8 cm
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Born in 1722, Thomas Pownall was a British politician, artist and mapmaker. He first traveled to America in 1753 as private secretary to Sir Danvers Osborne, who had just been appointed Governor of New York. Osborne committed suicide shortly after arriving in New York, leaving Pownall without a job or sponsor. After traveling widely throughout the Middle States at his own expense, Pownall was appointed Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey in 1755, and then served as Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay from 1757-60. During his travels in America, Pownall drew sketches of several scenic views, which he published in 1761 in Six Remarkable Views in the Provinces of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

In 1768, these six views were republished in Scenographia Americana, which contained 28 plates from different artists. The Scenographia Americana included views from Canada to the Caribbean, and was essentially an "imperial travelogue" through the British North American colonies at the end of the French and Indian War. Although several libraries own the Scenographia Americana, no complete editions are known to have been sold at auction in the last 30 years.

This is one of six prints in the Scenographia Americana that was based on Pownall’s sketches. Pownall’s drawing was further enhanced in a painting by Paul Sandby, who also engraved the view. Paul Sandby was a successful promoter of topographic landscape art, who also helped found the Royal Academy dedicated to visual art. This view depicts the mission community of Bethlehem, founded on the banks of the Monocacy Creek by a small group of Moravians in 1741. The contrast of light and dark and the attention to fine detail make this a desirable view. Published by Thomas Jefferys.

References: cf. Deak #106.

Condition: B

There are professional repairs to separations along a vertical fold, several short tears, and a 1/2" hole in image toward bottom center, with image replaced in facsimile. Trimmed to plate mark.

Estimate: $2,000 - $2,200

Sold for: $1,200

Closed on 6/12/2013