American (18th Century)
His Excellency John Adams President of the United States of America, c. 1797
Stauffer 1454. Inscribed in plate lower center: "Drawn & Engraved by H. Houston / His Excellency John Adams President of the United States / Respectfully Dedicated to the Lovers of their Country and Firm Supporters of its Constitution / Published by D. Kennedy 228 Market St. Philad". A fine impression in fine condition with sheet measuring 20 x 16 inches and image measuring 11 x 8 3/4 inches. Exhibited: Exhibition of Early American Engraving Upon Copper and Steel, Grolier Club New York, 1907 (catalogue number 120). From the Seybolt Collection.
Houston was among the earliest skilled stipple engravers to work in the United States. Most likely a native of Ireland, Houston worked in Philadelphia in the late 1790s where he produced engraved portraits of Washington, Rittenhouse, Kosciusko and at least two of John Adams. In his Portraits of John and Abigail Adams, Andrew Oliver discussed both images of Adams and concludes they represent “good representations of the original” oil portrait by William Williams.
According to Stauffer Houston also engraved a second portrait of John Adams that was published on September 1, 1797. Also from Stauffer, H. H. Houston was one of the earliest really good stipple-engravers of portraits who worked in the United States. He probably came here from Ireland, as the "Hibernian Magazine" of Dublin, contains portraits very similar in execution to his known work and signed H. Houston. Houston appears in Philadelphia in 1796; and as his latest dated work was done in 1798, his stay here was a comparatively short one. He engraved two separate plates of John Adams, and portaits of Washington, Rittenhouse, Kemble as Richard III, Kosciusko, etc. The first state of the John Adams plate published in Philadelphia in 1797 is lettered H. H. Houston, Sculpt. Another plate is signed H. I. Houston, but H. Houston is his more usual signature.