Mrs. Schuyler firing her corn fields on the approach of the British

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Background Notes

This engraving from 1856 by Thomas Phillibrowne and based upon an 1852 painting by Emanuel Leuzte (1816-1868) shows Catherine Schuyler destroying crops to keep the advancing British army from harvesting them.

Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler (1734-1803) was born in Claverock, Columbia County, New York, into a wealthy Dutch family. She was well educated and attractive, and in 1755 married Phillip John Schuyler, who was also from a wealthy land-holding family. Years later, the couple inherited land-holdings near Albany, NY, and built an estate there with wheat fields. During the Revolutionary War, John Schuyler was appointed a major-general under General Washington. In 1777, General Burgoyne and his British troops attempted to make their way down the Hudson Valley, but met a great deal of resistance from the Americans who were creating road blocks, destroying provisions, and doing anything necessary to make Burgoyne's trip difficult. On her husband's orders, Mrs. Schuyler bravely made her way to their estate near Albany to burn the vast and profitable wheat fields, and to request that his tenants do the same in order to prevent the British from harvesting them. The image is illustrating the bravery in her actions, by setting the fire herself, and by passing on her husband's orders to his tenants.

The title is misleading, as she is burning wheat fields, not corn. The title of the original painting is Mrs. Schuyler Firing her Wheat Fields.

The engraver, Thomas Phillibrowne, worked in Boston and New York. The artist, Emanuel Leuzte (1816-1868) was born and artistically trained in Germany, but lived and worked in the United States for many years. He was very influential to many artists who became famous in their own right. He is best known for his historical paintings, including Washington Crossing the Delaware.

Curator Notes

Type: Engraving

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Year: 1856
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Author/Creator: Engraved by Thomas Phillibrowne Based upon the 1852, Mrs. Schuyler Firing her Wheat Fields by Emanuel Leuzte (1816-1868).

Publisher: Martin, Johnson & Co.
Place of Publication: New York

Dimensions: 12 x 17.6 cm.

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