Worthy of Liberty, M.r Pitt scorns to invade the Liberties of other People.
Origin: Great Britain, England, London
OH: 23 1/2" x OW: 15 1/4"
Black and white mezzotint engraving
Acc. No. 1953-747
The lower margin reads: "Cha.s Wilson Peale pinx et fecit./ Worthy of Liberty, M.r Pitt scorns to invade the Liberties of other People."
William Pitt, attired as a Roman consul (in a tunic and toga), stands before an altar with a burning flame, the symbol of the sacred cause of liberty. In his left hand he holds the "Magna Charta" and right arm points toward a statue of woman, British liberty, supressing the petition of the New York congress for repeal of the Stamp Act. On the pedestal of the statue is the figure of an American Indian watching England's disregard for her colonies' welfare. The altar is adorned with bust heads of Algeron Sidney and Richard Hampden, famous seventeenth century writers and defenders of liberty.
Label:No political leader in England was more vocal in the support of pre-Revolutionary American causes than William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, who became the object of much praise and adulation in the colonies. Charles Willison Peale, a colonial artist, was studying in London in 1766 when Pitt appeared before Parliment to plead for the repeal of the Stamp Act. Inspired by the event, Peale twice painted a symbolic portrait of Pitt as a tribute to his zealous efforts. Not content with this, he then engraved the portrait, making it available for sale to all Pitt admirers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Whether this work is a true satire may be open to question. Certainly it does not make the derogatory comment most commonly associated with satire. It does, however, present a firm statement on a political situaton and portrays the protaganist in a symbolic rather than a realist guise. Futheremore, when published the print was accompanied by a full explanation of the political situation that inspired the design.