FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 27, 2012
As long as two hundred years ago, Solomon Drowne, Brown University Class of 1773 and a professor in the early Brown University Medical School, tucked a little something into one of his books, The Modern Practice of Physic, by Robert Thomas, published in 1811. The John Hay Library received the book in 1940, with the rest of Drowne’s Library. During a recent inspection of the Drowne books, Marie Malchodi, of the Library’s Preservation Department, discovered this little something: an engraved depiction of Christ and John the Baptist, both of them chest deep in the Jordan River, titled “Buried with Him by Baptism” and signed “P. Revere sculp.”
The print is characterized by Clarence S. Brigham in Paul Revere’s Engravings, the standard reference, as “one of the scarcest of the plates signed by Revere.” The Brown University Library’s copy is the fifth known to exist. Other copies are housed at the American Antiquarian Society, the Worcester Art Museum, and a private museum collection in Massachusetts; another, which Brigham mistakenly thought had been acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), was offered at auction by Sotheby’s in 2007.
As Richard Noble, Rare Materials Cataloger explains “The print is of considerable interest simply because Revere made it, but it is also an intriguing and very serious theopolitical cartoon, depicting the baptism in a manner that was the subject of lively debate in eighteenth-century New England religious circles. Brigham was unable to identify a model for it in any English book or periodical, or connect it with any of the tracts on baptism published on this side of the Atlantic from 1760 to 1780. It appears to be an American original, by an American original, the son of French Huguenot refugees who eventually became, by all accounts, a Unitarian. The print thus marks a stage in the evolution of that aspect of Revere’s life.”
The Brown University Library is home to more than 6.8 million print items, plus a multitude of electronic resources and expanding digital archives serving the teaching, research, and learning needs of Brown students and faculty, as well as scholars from around the country and the world.
Contact: Ann Dodge| Ann_Dodge@Brown.edu | (401) 863-1502