This portrait relates to a series noted by the curators of the Marquis de Lafayette Collections at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, based on a 1790 pastel portrait by Jean-Baptiste Weyler (1747-1791). The college has collected more than 50 individual portrait prints by different lithographers and publishers that reinterpret Weyler’s image, which vary in terms of the specifics of the uniform, the number of medals, and the direction he is facing, and can be viewed on the collection web site (see References below). This portrait shown here does not carry a credit to Weyler; it is signed on the lithograph stone by the lithographer the left side, and is credited as being “after Saintin.” Saintin evidently made a drawing after Weyler’s Lafayette portrait or, more likely, after one of the other prints already in circulation. For example, the pose and other details closely resemble those of a lithograph published in France in 1824 by François Séraphin Delpech that is in the Lafayette College collection (see References below), though Saintin’s version is executed in more of a neoclassical style.
At the beginning of the American Revolution, Lafayette left France and joined George Washington’s army, where he was appointed a major general and fought in Valley Forge and Yorktown. He also negotiated for French aid to the colonists. These achievements won him enduring popularity in America for the rest of his life as a popular symbol of the bond between France and the United States. Returning to France in 1782, Lafayette was an active French political figure and military leader in the ensuing years. He also designed the red, white and blue French flag, which remains in use. Lafayette led the French army in a war with Austria, where he was captured and imprisoned, then liberated by Napoleon. He returned to France in 1799. During the French Restoration, Lafayette was a member of the chamber of deputies. He remained highly regarded and influential in French governmental affairs.
Jules Emile Saintin was a French portrait, genre and landscape painter, as well as a pastel artist and designer. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and made his Salon debut in 1848. He won medals in subsequent Salons, in 1866, 1870 and 1886. Saintin spent about 10 years in the United States; he was working in New York City by 1856 and was made an Associate of the National Academy from 1859, exhibiting there and at the Boston Athenaeum. On his return to Paris he continued to produce paintings based on American themes, including Native American life. Among his best-known works are the oil painting Pony Express (1863) and a portrait of Stephen A. Douglas. Saintin was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1877.
Charles G. Crehen was an American lithographer and portrait painter. He was born in Paris and came to New York in 1848, where he worked until 1860. He also worked in many other major American cities. His painting America is now in the collection of the New-York Historical Society.
John Henry Bufford (1810-1870) began as an apprentice of William S. Pendleton in Boston, then came to New York and worked for Endicott and for Nathaniel Currier (who soon thereafter founded Currier & Ives). Bufford worked under his own name in New York from 1835 to about 1840, then returned to Boston, where he first worked in association with B.W. Thayer until 1844. From 1845, he was in business as J.H. Bufford & Co., a major lithographic establishment of the period, though he still sometimes co-published works with other companies. Bufford’s work was wide ranging in subject and of high quality, encompassing many important views of Boston, New York, and New England; a major series of whaling subjects; portraits, including an important one of Abraham Lincoln; Civil War scenes; genre prints; and music sheets. Among his apprentices from 1855 to 1857 was the young Winslow Homer, who later became one of America’s greatest artists. Prints from 1865 to 1867 bear the name of J.H. Bufford & Sons. Bufford ran his firm until his death in 1870, after which his sons took over operations for several years. In his classic reference work on American lithography, Harry T. Peters says of Bufford: “His work is almost invariably good, his sense of the essential in the general field seems to have been second only to that of Currier & Ives, his importance can be seen, and his contribution to Americana is in the very first rank” (Peters, 127).
W. Schaus was a New York print publisher, distributor and art dealer, who initiated and financed many lithographs on American themes that were sold in the U.S. and abroad. He was active from at least 1850 to 1861. He apparently did not operate a lithographic shop himself, but published the prints of other firms such as John H. Bufford; Sarony, Major & Knapp; and of the artist William S. Mount.
Full publication information: “Lith. by Crehen after Saintin. Printed by J.H. Bufford 313 Washington St, Boston. New York Published by W. Schaus 629 Broadway. Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1856 by W. Schaus in the clerk’s Office of the district Court of the United States for the Southern district of New York.”
Condition: Recently professionally cleaned and deacidified, with only minor remaining toning and wear. Few minor scattered soft creases unobtrusive. Few short marginal tears, professionally restored, and some slight remaining pale discoloration patches in far outer margins, all in blank margins and generally can be matted out. Title and credits apparently printed with a somewhat fugitive ink (different than the picture), now a bit faded overall.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 7, p. 477 (Saintin).
Groce, George C. and Wallace, David H. The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America 1564-1860. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969. p. 94 (Bufford), 153-154 (Crehen) and 555 (Saintin).
“Lafayette.” American Antiquarian Society Digital Image Archive. http://gigi.mwa.org/netpub/server.np?find&catalog=catalog&template=detail.np&field=itemid&op=matches&value=59990&site=public (24 January 2014).
“Lafayette [Delpech].” Lafayette College. http://cdm.lafayette.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/mdl-prints&CISOPTR=1791&CISOBOX=1&REC=19 (24 January 2014).
“Marquis de Lafayette Prints Collection.” Lafayette College. http://digital.lafayette.edu/collections/lafayetteprints (24 January 2014).
Peters, Harry T. America on Stone. U.S.: Doubleday, Doran, 1931. pp. 118-127 (Bufford), 148 (Crehen) and 357-358 (Schaus).