The Bostonians in Distress, Plate 2 of 6 Artist, attributed to: Philip Dawe (British, ca. 1750–ca. 1790)
Publisher: James M. Bennett (American, active mid-late 18th century)
Publisher: Robert Sayer (British, 1725–1794)


Prints and Drawings

Not on view

This mezzotint illustrates the contentious climate in Boston following the colonists’ protests against the British-imposed Tea Act of 1773. Ten piteous men representing the city of Boston are imprisoned in a cage that hangs precariously from a dead branch. The gravity of the city’s plight is represented by the ring of cannons surrounding the liberty tree and by several British frigates, which float menacingly in the background. These foreboding signs are counterbalanced by the cooperation of neighboring regions—indicated by the boatload of rescuers at the lower left, who present the imprisoned Bostonians sustenance in the form of fish, a religiously symbolic offering.


Mezzotint with some burin work


sheet: 47.6 × 29.2 cm (18 3/4 × 11 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Mabel Brady Garvan Collection

Accession Number



18th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, to 1946; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 25, 76–77, no. 29, ill.
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type



Dawe, P.

Technical metadata and APIs


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