China; made for the American market
Verre églomisé; 20 3/4 x 15 1/2 in. (52.7 x 39.4 cm)
Gift of the Members of the Committee of the Bertha King Benkard Memorial Fund, 1946 (46.67.85)
During the Federal period, America’s growing strength and sense of self inspired countless images celebrating the new nation’s ideal of liberty, of which this painting, Liberty in the Form of the Goddess of Youth Giving Support to the Bald Eagle, is one example. Reverse painted on glass for the American market, the image is based upon a 1796 engraving of the same title by Edward Savage of Philadelphia. One of several surviving examples of this popular image, the painting depicts the Goddess of Liberty standing, supposedly, on Beacon Hill, with Boston Harbor in the distance, a reference to the recent evacuation of the British fleet from the harbor. As Liberty proffers a cup to the descending eagle, she tramples below her feet both the key to the Bastille, symbolizing the death of the monarchy in France, and the Star of the Order of the Garter of Britain, symbolizing America’s freedom from England.