JOHNSTON, Thomas. Quebec, the Capital of New-France, a Bishoprick, and Seat of the Soverain Court. [Boston, 1759].
JOHNSTON, Thomas. Quebec, the Capital of New-France, a Bishoprick, and Seat of the Soverain Court. [Boston, 1759]. Single sheet mounted and framed (sheet size: 7 ¾ x 9 ¾ in.; 19.6 x 24.7 cm.); frame size: 11 ½ x 13 ¼ in.; 29.2 x 62.7 cm.). EXTREMELY FINE engraved view of the city of Quebec, with ORIGINAL HAND COLOR; a bit browned. FIRST EDITION, SECOND STATE, with the addition of a note about the defeat of Montcalm on September 13, 1759, which happened just outside of Quebec and was one of the most important battles of the American theatre of the Seven Years' War. 1759 came to be known as England’s Annus Mirabilis, or Year of Miracles, because of the country's great military success against the French on several continents. AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT AND INFLUENTIAL VIEW OF QUEBEC that was produced the year that the British wrenched control of the city from the French. This view is based on an inset that appeared in an earlier map of Quebec by Nicolas de Fer published in 1718, which was published in volume 6 (1719) of H. A. Chatelain's seven-volume "Atlas Historique” (1705-1720). Interest in the northern French settlement was particularly high in 1759: in that year the city fell to the English, a landmark even in the expansion of the British empire. The flowering tree that frames the left of this charming view with its fairy-tale air was transplanted by Johnston from the Chereau engraving. It was Chereau, too, who added the buildings bordering the St. Lawrence River in the immediate foreground and updated the legend supplied by de Fer from eighteen to twenty references. "THE MOST IMPORTANT ENGRAVED VIEW OF [QUEBEC], AS WELL AS THE EARLIEST EXECUTED BY AN AMERICAN" (Deak). "Probably one of the earliest American interior views" (Stokes & Haskell). The American engraving provides a literal translation of this legend and of the title, which Chereau had boxed in a central column. Some of Johnston's original touches can be seen in the artistic lettering of the caption (more in harmony with the style of the engraving), in the firing of guns from the master ship (center), and in the error of repeating the number 7 in the crowded legend" (Deak, p. 47). PROVENANCE: With original backing board preserved in a Mylar enclosure on the back of the frame, with the label of J. William Middendorf II (b. 1924). Peter Stephen Winkworth, his sale, Christie’s, April 1, 2015, Lot 46. Exhibited Brooklyn, NY, the Brooklyn Museum (on loan, from January 17, 1969); Washington, D.C., The Museum of Graphic Art, "American Printmaking: The First 150 Years," 1969, cat. no. 25. REFERENCES: Deak 78. Stokes & Haskell B-17. Stauffer 1505. Bookseller Inventory # 72MMS333. Price: $250,000.