Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Simon Chaudron, 10 January 1801

From Simon Chaudron

Philadelphie 10 Janvier 1801


J’attendais pour repondre a L’honneur de Votre lettre, qu’une occasion de Vous envoyer Votre Montre se presentat. J’ai manqué d’une heure celle que Vous m’aviez indiquée, et depuis ce tems Mr Letombe consul de france m’en fait esperer une, dont le retard s’accorde mal avec L’impatience que j’ai de Vous servir

Je joindrai a la montre un dessein dont Mr Barralet Vous fait Lhommage, et peut être aussi, les montres de Messieurs Sumpter & McClay

M’onsr. Barralet á ouvert une souscription pour L’Apothéose de Washington. La composition de cette planche est ingenieuse & touchante, et L’auteur ose esperer de Voir a la tête de ses souscripteurs, L’ami & le protecteur des arts

J’ai L’honneur dêtre avec le plus profond Respect

Monsieur Votre trés humble & trés obeissant Serviteur


editors’ translation

Philadelphia 10 January 1801


I was waiting to answer the honor of your letter until an opportunity to send you your watch should occur. I missed by one hour the one that you had indicated to me, and since that time Mr. Létombe, the French consul, has kept me hoping for one, delaying in a way that ill suits my impatience to serve you.

I shall send with the watch a drawing that Mr. Barralet dedicates to you, and perhaps also send the watches of Messrs. Sumter and McClay.

Mr. Barralet has opened a subscription for the Apotheosis of Washington. The composition of this plate is ingenious and moving, and the author dares hope to see at the head of its subscribers, the friend and protector of the arts.

I have the honor of being with the deepest respect

Sir Your very humble and very obedient Servant


RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 14 Jan. and so recorded in SJL.

Votre lettre: TJ to Chaudron, 18 Dec.

Chaudron was co-publisher of an engraving by John James Barralet that depicted George Washington, his arms outstretched, lofted toward heaven amid an assortment of symbolic visual references. Although Barralet and Chaudron opened subscriptions for the “Apotheosis of Washington” by late 1800 and had a proof print available then for viewing, the image was not ready for delivery until February 1802. In March 1801 the artist asked TJ to become a subscriber, without charge, so that his name could stand at the top of the subscription list. There is no evidence of a reply. Barralet’s “Apotheosis” was enormously popular in the nineteenth century, appearing on ceramic pitchers, in Chinese paintings on glass for the American export trade, and later in an 1865 print that substituted Abraham Lincoln’s head for Washington’s (Patricia A. Anderson, Promoted to Glory: The Apotheosis of George Washington [Northampton, Mass., 1980], 17–18, 23, 31–3; Phoebe Lloyd Jacobs, “John James Barralet and the Apotheosis of George Washington,” Winterthur Portfolio, 12 [1977], 115–37; Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., Popular Images of the Presidency: From Washington to Lincoln [Columbia, Mo., 1991], 13–16; Aurora, 19 Dec. 1800, 8 Feb. 1802; Barralet to TJ 17 Mch. 1801).

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