Graphic Representations of Cooper

In this 1866 engraving by Alexander Hay Ritchie of "Authors of the United States" by Thomas Hicks, Cooper commands the central position in the group composition, text in hand and directly under the sculpture of Shakespeare. Surrounding him are the other luminaries of mid-century American Literature such as Bryant, Emerson, Hawthorne, Irving, and Poe. Cooper's placement at the commanding center of this group portrait reflects the high esteem many held for him as the major writer in mid-nineteenth-century America.

The Cooper Edition wishes to thank the American Antiquarian Society for permission to use this engraving, for which they retain copyright and all other rights of reproduction.

Key to "Authors of the United States"

1. Irving
2. Bryant
3. Cooper
4. Longfellow
5. Miss Sedgwick
6. Mrs. Sigourney
7. Mrs. Southworth
8. Mitchell
9. Willis
10. Holmes
11. Kennedy
12. Mrs. Mowatt Ritchie
13. Alice Carey
14. Prentice
15. G.W. Kendall
16. Morris
17. Poe
18. Tuckerman
19. Hawthorne
20. Simms
21. P. Pendelton Cooke
22. Hoffman
23. Prescott
24. Bancroft
25. Parke Godwin
26. Motley
27. Beecher
28. Curtis
29. Emerson
30. R.H. Dana
31. Margaret Fuller (Ossoli)
32. Channing
33. Mrs. Stowe
34. Mrs. Kirkland
35. Whitter
36. Lowell
37. Boker
38. Bayard Taylor
39. Saxe
40. Stoddard
41. Mrs. Amelia Welby
42. Gallagher
43. Cozzens
44. Halleck

According to Wendy Rick Reaves, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the National Portrait Gallery (who kindly provided the "Key" above, identifying the sitters in the Ritchie engraving), the Smithsonian has no record of the location of the original portrait by Thomas Hicks. Ms. Reaves also kindly called attention to the following notice about the Hicks' group portrait which appeard in The Crayon (April 1857), p. 123:

Four artists of this city have been commissioned by Wm. P. Wright, Esq., to paint each a picture to form a series representing respectively the Artists, Men of Science, Literary men, and Merchants of our country. Mr. Baker will paint the Artists; Mr. Huntington, the Savans; Mr. Hicks, the Literary characters; and Mr. Rossiter, the Merchants. The paintings, when finished, will be exhibited and engraved. The size of each canvas we believe is to be 9 by 14 feet. The commission is a very liberal one, and certainly a very creditable one to Mr. Wright.

The advertisement letter, courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, below provides some additional background and identifications for the engraving.

The Independent
P.O. Box 2787
Publisher’s Office
3 Park Place
New York

March 15th 1872

Dear Sir

For some time past I have been giving Ritchie’s magnificent steel engraving of "Authors of the United States" as a premium for two new subscribers to The Independent and have given away nearly nine thousand without a single complaint of dissatisfaction. In order still further to extend the circulation of The Independent and to place this fine engraving within the reach of all I have decided to offer it hereafter until further notice, for one new subscriber. Any one may obtain this splendid engraving, postage paid, by sending $2.50 with his own name or that of any other party, not at present a subscriber. This is certainly the most beautiful and most valuable premium ever offered in the country for one subscriber. The size of the engraving is 19 by 35 inches. The steel plate alone cost me $4,500.00. The celebrated oil painting from which this engraving was copied was painted by Hicks and is a masterpiece of art. The engraving was done by Ritchie one of the best living artists and it contains good sized likenesses of Longfellow, Bryant, Whittier, Cooper, Mrs Stowe[,] Henry Ward Beecher, Washington Irving, Mrs Sedgwick, Alice Cary[,] Hawthorne, Mrs. Sigourney, Poe, Prescott, Godwin, Bancroft, Lowell, Bayard Taylor, Motley, Mrs Southworth, Holmes, Prentice, Margaret Fuller and more than twenty others. This wonderful picture always attracts attention and admiration and is well worth five times the price named – to say nothing of the value of The Independent which goes with it. Engravings of this character sell at the print stores as high as from $20, to $50, each. A printer’s Key sent with each engraving. Absolute satisfaction guaranteed or the money will be refunded. Hoping this liberal proposal will be accepted and an early reply received, I am, very respectfully yours,
Henry C. Bowen, Publisher

For additional information on Cooper iconography, see the National Portrait Gallery; enter "Cooper, James Fenimore" at the "Portrait Search" prompt.

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Last modified: February 13, 2008 11:14:41