Alexander Hamilton

Various artists/makers

Not on view

This print reproduces an 1805 portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull preserved at New York's City Hall, and shows the subject standing next to a desk piled with papers, his hand extended as though speaking. It was engraved for the Society of Iconophiles, a group formed in 1894 to issue engraved views of New York City and prints of people connected with its history.

S. Arlent-Edwards (as he signed his works) moved to New York from London in 1890 and became known for reviving the art of engraving and printing color mezzotints, a form that had flourished a hundred years before in Britain. After studying at London's Kensington Art School, Edwards learned to engrave at Appleton, Josey & Alais. In New York he reproduced famous European paintings by Italian, French and Northern masters, as well as many British and American portraits. Meticulous about his work, he often inscribed the phrase "Engraved and printed in color at one printing without retouching" below the image. After printing a limited number from each plate he then cancelled the surface. This example was printed using brown ink only.

To make a mezzotint, a rocker is used to roughen the surface of a copper plate, producing texture known as "burr." A burnisher is then applied to selectively flatten areas of the burr and produce an image. When inked and printed, burnished areas read as lights against velvety darks produced by the burr.

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