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Prints and Drawings
Artist, attributed to: Philip Dawe, British, ca. 1750–ca. 1790
Publisher: Robert Sayer, British, 1725–1794
Publisher: James M. Bennett, American, active mid-late 18th century

The Bostonians in Distress, Plate 2 of 6

1774

Mezzotint with some burin work

sheet: 47.6 × 29.2 cm (18 3/4 × 11 1/2 in.)
Mabel Brady Garvan Collection
1946.9.368
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.
Geography: 
Made in United States
Depicted Boston, Massachusetts
Culture: 
American
Period: 
18th century
Classification: 
Works on Paper - Prints
Provenance: 

Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, to 1946; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Bibliography: 

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.

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 such records is ongoing.