Networks of Engravers in Early 19th-Century Philadelphia
Tuesday, September 18
5:30pm – 7:00pm
Sponsored by the Visual Culture Program
In the first decade of the 1800s, the engraver William Kneass severed his professional relationship with the Philadelphia-based engraver James Akin. The two men would pursue engraving projects separately. Although no artistic evidence has survived linking these engravers on future professional endeavors, an 1809 invoice between the men, found in the collections at the Library Company of Philadelphia, does. Kneass worked on everything from medical labels, to door knockers, to trade cards for Akin. He also worked on William Birch’s engraving The City of New York (1803). However, the finished print contains not Akin, nor Kneass’s name, but those of Birch and Samuel Seymour, an engraver whom Birch had collaborated with previously
This is not surprising. The Akin-Kneass invoice provides an informative glimpse into the collaborative nature of the “mechanical arts” in the first decade of the 1800s when artistic evidence is often rare. This talk will use this important document as a means to explore the engravers active in early 19th- century Philadelphia and how they were trained, their working practices, and the artistic networks they forged.
About the Speaker:
Allison M. Stagg is an art historian with a focus on American art and visual culture. She has previously held positions in the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and in the American Studies Department at the Johannes Gutenberg Universität in Mainz. From 2016 to 2017 she was the Terra Foundation Visiting Professor in American Art History at the John F. Kennedy Institute for
North American Studies, Freie Universität. She is completing a manuscript on the history of political caricature prints in the United States published between 1780 and 1830.