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Thomas Sully:  John Quincy Adams, President of the United States (with the Melish Map of the United States at his right)


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Title: John Quincy Adams, President of the United States (with the Melish Map of the United States at his right)

Map Maker: Thomas Sully

Place / Date: Philadelphia / 1826

Coloring: Uncolored

Size: 22 x 14 inches

Condition: VG+

Price: $1,900.00

Inventory ID: 46459


President John Quincy Adams and the 1819 Melish Map of the United States,  Showing the Boundaries Set By The Adams-Onis Treaty

Finely engraved example of John Quincy Adams , 6th President of the United States, taken from a painting by Thomas Sully, done in 1824, after his election and shortly before the start of his presidential term (1825-1829).

The image shows John Quincy Adams sitting in his study surrounded by books, maps and a packet of documents.  Of particular interest are the two large partially unrolled maps, which depict two of Adams' most important accomplishments:

The first is a profile and topographical map of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, with which Adams was involved and where he attended the groundbreaking in 1828. 

The second, at the right, illustrates the achievement for which Adams is perhaps most famous--the negotiations of the Adams-Onis Treaty with Spain in 1819, which established for the first time an agreed boundary between the United States and New Spain following the purchase of the Louisiana Territory by Thomas Jefferson.  Shown to the right of Adams is the western section of John Melish's Map of the United States with the Contiguous British & Spanish Possessions.  The edition illustrated was issued after 1819, and depicts the boundary established by the Adams-Onis Treaty, which Adams had negotiated while serving as Secretary of State (1817-1825) under President James Monroe, perhaps Adams' single greatest accomplishment prior to taking office.  http://www.raremaps.com/gallery/detail/44373mp2

One of the earliest portraits of Adams after his election as President, it is indeed noteworthy that Adams selected the Melish map and a map of the Chesapeake Canal as a means of illustrating himself as President.

This print, produced by two of America's leading artistic figures of the early nineteenth century, is the best of Adams during his Presidency and one of the best political portraits of the time.

Thomas Sully and Asher B. Durrand

The engraving is based upon an original painting by Thomas Sully (1783-1872), the son of British actors Matthew and Sarah Chester Sully who settled in Philadelphia, in 1807. Sully, who studied under Benjamin West, is best known for his approximately 2,000 portraits, most painted in Philadelphia. His first success came from portraits of famous actors, but when he had the opportunity to paint John Quincy Adams from life, in 1824, the year Adams was elected President, Sully's career skyrocketed.

Sully had been commissioned previously by Philadelphia publisher William H. Morgan, to paint a portrait of James Madison for a series of Presidential engravings Morgan was publishing. When Adams was elected, Morgan went back to Sully to paint his image and Sully in turn arranged to hire Asher B. Durand to do the engraving. Durand, who had made a name for himself with his engraving of John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence," is generally considered to be the greatest American engraver of the time.

Related Categories:
Maps of Northwest America (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana)
Maps of the United States