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  WATERCOLOR PAINTING OF THE GREAT SEAL OF THE UNITED STATES, CA 1820-1850
Dimensions (inches): Frame - 13.5" x 13.5", Site size - 7.25" diameter
Description:
Watercolor on paper of the Great Seal of the United States, with a circular pen and ink border. Drawn ca 1840, this beautiful rendition features a bald eagle facing to its proper right, with an olive branch in its right talon and 13 arrows in its left. On its breast is a federal shield with a solid blue register above 13 pales alternating red and white.

The Second Continental Congress named the first committee to design a Great Seal on July 4, 1776, the same day that independence from Great Britain was declared by the thirteen colonies. In its formative stages, the stars were, on more than one occasion, randomly positioned, but the design that appears on the earliest known die cut, dating to 1782, and that which was formally adopted in 1789, show the stars in a 6-pointed Great Star (a star made out of stars). This configuration and the overall elements have remained basically the same ever since, but in the earlier periods such devices tend to vary significantly from artist to artist. On this example, the most obvious element is the position of the eagle, which has wings much more up-stretched than what is typically seen. This style is more closely associated with the 18th and early 19th centuries, and is in a form that is especially appealing to connoisseurs of early American patriotic objects.

One may also note how the stars are arranged in a diamond of 12 stars, with a larger star in the very center. This is the only such formation I have encountered on a Great Seal and this configuration is very unusual to encounter in any rendering of 13 stars on any object.

On close examination, one will also note that the color of the pales is reversed from the actual design. These start on red and end on red, like the current American national flag. It is a general rule of heraldry, however, to begin such a sequence on white, so that on the official seal, the pales begin and end on white instead of red.

The painting is beautifully executed, well-balanced, with delicate and detailed features and attractive colors. The work was originally painted on a much larger sheet of parchment, on which the words "American Coat of Arms" were written in calligraphy. This text was clipped by a former owner, but saved, and I will include it in a mylar sleeve on the reverse of the frame.

Mounting: The gilded American molding dates to the period between 1820 and the 1840's. The work is laid over 100% cotton rag mat and a deep beveled mat keeps the parchment away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass. The mat is covered in 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated to reduce excess dye.

Condition: Excellent, with only the most minor toning and exceptionally minor soiling.
   
Primary Color: red, white blue, gold
Earliest Date: 1820
Latest Date: 1850's
For Sale Status: Available
Price $4,500
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com
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