The East Prospect of the City of Philadelphia, in the Province of Pennsylvania.
6.5 x 19.75 in (16.51 x 50.165 cm)
This is a superb example of the 1761 London Magazine edition of the famous Heap and Scull view of Philadelphia, one of the earliest acquirable and most important views of the city. It presents a panoramic view of Philadelphia as seen from the New Jersey shore of the Delaware River. George Heap was commissioned to draw this view by Pennsylvania luminary Thomas Penn, who had been impressed by William Burgis' 1719 and 1725 engravings of New York and Boston and wished to see his own city so immortalized. Heap's sudden death upon completion of his drawing inspires the romantic notion that the masterwork was so demanding that the labor brought on his illness, although in truth it is not known what caused his sudden decline.
A Grand PanoramaThe prospect spans from South Street to Vine Street, and is centered on the spire of Christ Church (numbers keyed to the Magazine's text mark the locations of the city's various churches, government houses, the Academy, and various visible major streets). Also prominently shown is the city's corn mill, situated on the upstream end of 'Windmill Island'. (This island was removed from the river in 1890, considered an impediment to navigation.) In the upper right is a view of the city's defensive battery, whose construction in 1740 was funded by Benjamin Franklin's Association for Defense. In the upper left is pictured Philadelphia's state house, which in a matter of years would come to be known as Independence Hall.
Precursors to this ViewThe view is based on George Heap's masterful, grand drawing of the city, published by Nicholas Scull in London in 1754, two years after the artist's untimely death. (The large 1754 view is extremely rare and commands astonishing sums.) Scull and Heap also collaborated on the influential Map of Philadelphia and Parts Adjacent, which was published in 1752 and frequently reissued.
Publication History and CensusThe present view was engraved by an anonymous hand in 1761 for inclusion in the London Magazine. We see only one example of this view catalogued in OCLC, at the National Library of Scotland. This view appears on the market from time to time.
George Heap (1715 - 1752) was a Pennsylvania landholder and county Coroner, who was additionally an assistant surveyor-general for the province, a mapmaker, and mapseller. He is most noted for his drawing the most important early view of Philadelphia - The East Prospect of the City of Philadelphia - as well as his Map of Philadelphia and Parts Adjacent with Perspective View of the State House, 1750 The Prospect was, apparently, the death of him: He finished drawing the view in September 1752 and set out in early December of that year for England in order to have it engraved. His voyage had not exited the Delaware before he 'was seized with a pain in his head and died'. He was buried at Christ Church, Philadelphia. Learn More...
Baldwin, R. London Magazine, Or, Gentleman's Monthly Intelligencer... , (London) 1761.
Excellent. Original folds present but unobtrusive. A bold, sharp strike.
OCLC 316501154. Lane, Christopher W. and Cresswell, Donald H. Prints of Philadelphia at The Philadelphia Print Shop Featuring the Wohl Collection #3. Snyder, Martin City of independence: Views of Philadelphia before 1800 p. 57. Wainwright, Nicholas B., 'Scull and Heap's East Prospect of Philadelphia', Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, volume 73, 1949.