Exhibitions

The Launching Print, J. W. Hill, Portland, ME

The 1855 Hill view is perhaps the best known topographic view of the city. It shows in extraordinarily precise detail the city's halcyon days before the Civil War and the Great Fire. The view was first published as a lithograph by the Smith Brothers based on a painting, now lost, by J. W. Hill. Referred to as "The Launching Print" by local historians because of the foreground vessel on the ways, it also served as the source for a series of prints by other publishers who felt free to copy and adapt the image during this pre-copyright period [see #95-100].

J. W. Hill
Portland, ME
New York: Smith Brothers Co., 1855
Charles Parsons Lithography, New York
Printed by Endicott and Co., New York
Lithograph, 66 x 101 cm
Private Collection

The Launching Print, Portland, ME, ca, 1860

This small colored steel engraving of the view was published in the late 1850s in a book of illustrations of American cities.

Portland, ME
ca, 1860
Colored steel engraving, 12.5 x 19 cm
Courtesy of Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr.

Launching Print, Portland, Maine, United States. From: The Illustrated London News, 1859

The Illustrated London News in 1859 reproduced the image as a wood engraving. In this version the ship is actually launched.

Portland, Maine, United States. 1859
From: The Illustrated London News (January 1, 1859): 4
Wood engraving, 19 x 27 cm
Courtesy of Peter F. Morelli

The City of Portland, Maine, on the Occasion of theDeparture of the Prince of Wales, October 20, 1860

In this 1860 issue, Harper's Weekly combined a current event, the visit of the Prince of Wales, with what had become the nineteenth century equivalent of stock footage.

The City of Portland, Maine, on the Occasion of the
Departure of the Prince of Wales, October 20, 1860
From: Harper’s Weekly (November 3, 1860): 700
Wood engraving, 27 x 40 cm
Courtesy of Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr.

The Launching Print, Half Size, J. W. Hill Portland, ME, 1855

This image is the second state of the print, a delicately rendered half size lithograph that eliminates most of the sky from the original, but preserves the richness of tone and detail. It was printed on thin tissue so that it could be folded into a report on the city's commerce.

J. W. Hill
Portland, ME
New York: Smith Brothers Co., 1855
Charles Parsons Lithography, New York
Lithograph, 40 x 101.5 cm
Courtesy of Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr.

Launching View, Portland, ME, 1865

The popular image became the frontispiece of the second edition of William Willis' The History of Portland published in 1865, this time as a coppertone lithograph with new details added.

Portland, ME, 1865
Portland: Bailey and Noyes, 1865
From: William Willis, The History of Portland
Lithograph, 21 x 38 cm
Courtesy of Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr.

J.Mayer and Co. Lithography View of Portland, ME, Taken from Cape Elizabeth before the Great Conflagration of July 4th

The image was resurrected once more as a lithograph after the Great Fire, this one derived from the Willis frontispiece.

J.Mayer and Co. Lithography
View of Portland, ME, Taken from Cape Elizabeth
before the Great Conflagration of July 4th
Boston: B.B. Russell and Co., 1866
and Portland: John Hankerson, 1866
Lithograph, 32 x 46 cm
Courtesy of Herbert W. Pratt