Gen. Marion in His Swamp Encampment Inviting a British Officer to Dinner

Image

Background Notes

General Francis Marion (1732-1795) was born and died in South Carolina. He grew up and lived on a farm his entire life, aside from his enlistment time. He was known as a brave and courteous man who was referred to as the "Swamp Fox" for his guerilla war tactics through the swamp marshes. He began his military career in 1756, and rose through the ranks in the Continental Army, while battling the British in the south during the Revolutionary War. It is said that in late 1780, a British officer requested a meeting with Marion, at his Snow Island, South Carolina, headquarters, to discuss the exchange of prisoners. Marion graciously invited him to dinner of roasted sweet potatoes, and the young officer accepted. The image easily portrays Marion's generosity at this event. (1)

Originally a painting by John Blake White, General Marion Inviting a British Officer to Dinner is a significant image because it is one of the first to represent nationalism, and to portray a southern military figure so prominently. Before this time, historical imagery was regionally based, and focusing on New England. Because of this, the original painting by White (ca. 1837), an attorney and painter from South Carolina, was the first chosen to be published by the Apollo Association. (2)

This 1840 engraving based upon the White painting was created by John Sartain, (1808-1897) who was an engraver and a portrait and miniature painter. He was born in London and apprenticed to a London engraver. In 1830, he moved to Philadelphia, where he was mainly employed as an engraver for, and publisher of, magazines. (3)

 

1. Garraty, John A. and Mark C. Carnes, American National Biography, vol. 14 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999) 510-11.

Simms, W. Gilmore, The Life of Francis Marion (New York: J.C. Derby, 1855) 176-180.
James, Judge, The Life of Francis Marion (New York: Cornish, Lamport & Co., 1851) 94-96.
2. Groce, George C. and David H. Wallace, The New-York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564-1860 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957) 681.
Mann, Maybelle, The American Art Union (Jupiter, FL: ALM Associates, 1987) 3.
3. Groce, George C. and David H. Wallace, The New-York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564-1860 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957) 558.

Curator Notes

Type: Engraving

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Year: 1840
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Description:

Author/Creator: Engraved by John Sartain (1808-1897) from a painting by John Blake White

Publisher: Apollo Association
Place of Publication: New York

Dimensions: 42.2 x 52.9 cm.

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Catalog Number: American Antiquarian Society