JOHN SARTAIN (1808-1897)

"William Penn"

"William Penn"

7 1/2" x 4 5/8", Engraving 11167

John Sartain (1808-1897)

John Sartain was a printmaker, miniaturist and portraitist. Born in London in 1808, he was apprenticed to engraver John Swain before coming to America in 1830 and settling in Philadelphia. He was instrumental in popularizing mezzotints by copying John Neagle's "Patriotism and Age."

Sartain was a prolific engraver, creating hundreds of illustrations for magazines, including his own. In 1848, he purchased a half interest in the Union Magazine, a New York City periodical. He transferred it to Philadelphia, where it was renamed Sartain's Union Magazine, and from 1849–52 he published it with Graham. It became very well known during those four years. In the late 1850s, he started to make large engravings of major imaginative and historical works, including those of Benjamin West and Peter F. Rothermel.

His architectural knowledge was frequently requisitioned: he took a prominent part in the work of the committee on the Washington Memorial by Rudolf Siemering in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, and he designed medallions for the monument to George Washington and Lafayette erected in 1869 in Monument Cemetery, Philadelphia.

Sartain was a friend and colleague of Edgar Allen Poe. Four months before Poe’s untimely death, he visited Sartain in his home, while delirious, and gave him a new poem of his called The Bells which Sartain published in his magazine after Poe died. 

Sartain was an active member of the Philadelphia art community. He was a teacher and officer at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women and was the art director of the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia in 1876. He also exhibited works at several European expositions. 

Four of his eight children became painters or engravers: Samuel (1830-1906), Henry (1833-circa 1895), Emily (1841-1927), and William (1843-1924).

John Sartain's autobiography, "The Reminiscences of a Very Old Man," was published in 1899, two years after his death.

Biography adapted from multiple sources

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