Jonathan Belcher "Destroy the plate & burn all the impressions"

John Faber (died 1756) after a painting by Richard Phillips (1681-1741), His Excellency Jonathan Belcher, Esqr. 1734. Mezzotint. Gift of Samuel S. Dennis and Charles W. McAlpin, Class of 1888. Graphic Arts division GC 018

This is a mezzotint engraving of Jonathan Belcher (1682-1757) made while he was Royal Governor of Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire prior to becoming Governor of New Jersey and a strong supporter of the newly founded College of New Jersey (later known as Princeton University). Gov. Belcher gave the college 474 books from his private collection, making our library the sixth largest in the colonies.

“Concerning the Phillips portrait and the engraving of it, Belcher wrote from Boston on August 7, 1734, to his son, Jonathon Belcher, Jr., who was then in London: ‘I see you had rec’d my picture from Mr Caswall. I think it is not much like, tho’ a good piece of paint, done by Mr Phillips of Great Queen Street out of Lincoln’s Inn Fields. I am surprised & much displeas’d at what your uncle writes me of Mr Newman & your having my picture done on a copperplate. How cou’d you presume to do such a thing without my special leave and order? You shou’d be wise and consider the consequences of things before you put ‘em in execution. Such a foolish affair will pull down much envy, and give occasion to your father’s enemies to squirt & squib & what not. It is therefore my order, if this comes to hand timely that you destroy the plate & burn all the impressions taken from it.”

Princeton University Library Chronicle 14, no.4 (Summer 1953): 172.