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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rare and Important Engravings by a Foremost Early American Printmaker

Amos Doolittle (1754 - 1832)
The Prodigal Son
Engravings: each approximately 14¼ x 11¼ inches
New Haven, Connecticut, 1814

Amos Doolittle was among the most important early American engravers.  His career spanned six decades, beginning at the time of the Revolution, and Doolittle was one of the first American printmakers to rival his European counterparts for the American market.  A native of Connecticut, Doolittle learned to engrave in metal through his apprenticeship to a silversmith.  His career as an independent craftsman was interrupted by army service during the American Revolution, during which time he met Ralph Earl, whose drawings of battle scenes, including the battles of Lexington and Concord, Doolittle was later to engrave on copper.  The success of these historical scenes, which were published in New Haven in 1775, enabled Doolittle to abandon his trade as a silversmith.  Responding to patriotic demand for images of the new American leaders, Doolittle engraved likenesses of successive American presidents, including George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.  He also engraved book illustrations, scenic views and bookplates.  Although not the first engraver in America, as he was later to claim, Doolittle was the only one of his generation to attempt to expand beyond service work to original compositions on a regular basis.

 The Prodigal Son Revelling with Harlots

 The Prodigal Son in Misery
 The Prodigal Son Receiving His Patrimony
The Prodigal Son Returned to His Father

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