George Washington Papers

Tobias Lear to Daniel Bowen, 28 December 1792

Tobias Lear to Daniel Bowen

[Philadelphia] Decr 28th [1]792

Mr Lear presents his Compliments to Mr Bowen1 & will thank him to send by the Bearer the six framed pictures which Mr B. bid off yesterday for the President2—Whenever Mr Bowen has leisure to draw off the Acct of the Prints &c. bo[ugh]t by him for the President Mr Lear will immediately pay it—and it would be pleasing to the President if he could know what would be a compensation to Mr Bowen for the trouble he has had & the politeness with which he has executed this business.

AL, NN: Washington Collection; AL (photocopy), DLC:GW, ser. 9.

1Daniel Bowen (1760–1856) was a wax modeler and one of America’s first museum proprietors. He displayed not only his own wax sculptures but also the works of various American artists in his several museums: New York City in 1789 and 1794, Philadelphia in 1790 and 1792–94, Boston in 1791 and 1795–1825. GW visited Bowen’s first museum, at 74 Water Street in New York City, in September 1789 (see Pennsylvania Packet [Philadelphia], 24 Sept. 1789), where he saw a life-size figure of himself sculpted out of wax: “The President of the United States sitting under a Canopy, in his Military Dress.—Over the Head of his Excellency a Fame is suspended (also in Wax) crowning him with a Wreath of Laurels” (New-York Journal, and Weekly Register, 17 Sept. 1789).

2Bowen, whose museum currently was in Philadelphia at 9 North Eighth Street, the “former Mrs Pine’s” (see Gazette of the United States [Philadelphia], 29 Dec. 1792), probably purchased the six pictures for GW at the “PUBLIC SALE of Prints, Plate, Plated Ware, &c. . . . On Wednesday the 26th Inst. . . . at the House late Mrs. Pine’s in Eighth street.” The auction included “A Capital Collection of Mezzotinto and Copperplate PRINTS and ETCHINGS, Engraved by the first Artists, from Paintings of the most celebrated Painters, Ancient and Modern; being, perhaps, the most extensive and valuable Collection of PRINTS ever Imported into America” (see Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 21 Dec. 1792). For the numerous prints and paintings at Mount Vernon at the time of GW’s death, see Prussing, Estate of George Washington, description begins Eugene E. Prussing. The Estate of George Washington, Deceased. Boston, 1927. description ends 410–48.

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