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Portrait Art, Banvard of the Mississippi, Antique Print, 19th Century


Charles Baugniet (1814-1886) (artist and lithographer)
Banvard of the Mississippi
M. & N. Hanhart, Lith. Printers, London: 1849
Lithograph with tint stone
Signed in the matrix: Baugniet 1849 London
19.25 x 14.5 inches, ruled border
23.25 x 17 inches, overall

A sensitive portrait of the adventurous American artist John Banvard by Belgian portraitist Charles Baugniet. Banvard is seated on a rock wearing the uniform of an American sailor, with a straw boating hat beside him on the rock. He cradles a rifle in one arm, which also holds a pencil, and balances a sketchbook on his knee with the other hand. An empty rowboat sits at the shore, implying he rowed to the spot. In the background is his best-known subject, the Mississippi River, with Native Americans paddling canoes. A simple decorative border with arabesque spandrels in the top right and left surrounds the image. This is apparently a rare print; the only other example we have located is in The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

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John Banvard (1815-1891) was born in New York and showed talent for drawing and writing at a young age. As a teenager, he moved to Louisville, Kentucky, which he used as a home base for traveling the Mississippi, which he used for the subject matter of his paintings. He made his name as a panorama painter — a genre combining art and showmanship popular during the 19th century in the U.S., England and Western Europe. Panorama painters captured 360º views of landscapes and historical scenes in mural-sized canvases which were set up in temporary exhibitions, to which the entrepreneurial artists charged admission, as well as selling souvenir reproductions.

Banvard’s best-known work was a mammoth painting of the Mississippi River, now lost, that was 12 feet high and 1,300 feet long when he began, and was enlarged from there. The painting proved a popular attraction — more than 600,000 people came to see it in London, England and Banvard made a private presentation to Queen Victoria. While abroad, he also painted panoramas of the Holy Land and the Nile River Valley. Banvard also authored approximately 1,700 poems, many of which were published in the major periodicals of the period.

Charles Baugniet was a Belgian painter, designer, engraver and lithographer, known for his portraits and genre scenes. He studied in the Academy of Brussels and made his first lithographs while still in his teens. In 1835 he began publishing a series of lithographed portraits of members of the Chamber of Deputies with Huard, which he followed the next year with a suite of 30 portraits of contemporary artists. In 1841 he moved to England, where he soon established himself in London with portrait commissions from the prince consort and another distinguished personages. He also served as Draftsman to the King by Leopold of Belgium. In 1860 he moved to Paris. His works are in the collections of the British Museum, the British National Portrait Gallery, the Cabinet des Estampes in Paris, the Museum of the Library of Brussels, and other museums around the world.

M. & N. Hanhart was a successful lithographic publishing house founded by Michael Hanhart in 1839 and continuing in business beyond 1888. The firm published a wide range of material including book illustrations and sheet music covers, but its specialty was large, separately issued, elaborate chromolithographs printed using a complex process of layered tint stones.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual light overall toning, wear, handing, soft creases. Few short marginal tears, one extending partly into image, professionally restored as backed on Japanese tissue.


Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 1, p. 473.

“Charles Baugniet.” University of Liège, Belgium. 20 December 2002. (13 January 2003).

Horak, Jan-Christopher. “Stephan Oettermann, The panorama: history of a mass medium.” La Trobe University. 16 April 1999. (13 January 2003).

“John Banvard.” Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography. Ed. James Grant Wilson and John Fiske. New York: D. Appleton and Company. 1887-1889. Online at (7 July 2015).

“John Banvard.” 2000-2003. (13 January 2003).

“M. & N. Hanhart.” National Portrait Gallery.–n-hanhart (7 July 2015).

“Object ID 32220.” National Portrait Gallery.,/is/,/32220/,/false/,/false&newprofile=CAP&newstyle=single (7 July 2015).

Additional information


19th Century