Artist: Mezzotint by Thomas Oldham Barlow (1824-1889); From a painting by Christian Schussele (1824/26-1879), American
Year: c. 1864
Medium: Mezzotint, line engraving and stipple on paper
Size: Height - 33 3/4", Width - 23 3/4" Original
Christian Schussele based his painting of Washington Irving and His Friends on Felix O.C. Darley’s steel engraving that was published in London in 1863. Darley was a well known draughtsman and is responsible for the design and layout of the painting.
Thomas Oldham Barlow would look to this design when he started working on his engraving the same year. It is a testament to the popularity of the painting that an engraving would be commissioned so quickly after its completion. Washington Irving had already been dead four years when Schussele set about painting the subject. A meeting of these fifteen men never actually took place. Instead of painting a historically accurate scene, Schussele represents what a central figure in the formation and development of American literature Irving was. The fourteen other men in the painting were all prominent writers of the time. They are (from left to right) Henry T. Tuckerman (1813-1871), Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894), William Gilmore Simms (1806- 1870), Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790-1867), Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806-1867), William H. Prescott (1796-1859), Irving, James Kirke Paulding (1778-1860), Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), John Pendleton Kennedy (1795-1870), James Fenimore Cooper (1789- 1851), and George Bancroft (1800-1891). Many of the writers saw Irving as a mentor who had paved the way for their own literary success.  Adelicia’s family being well read would have been very familiar with the works of these writers. An 1881 newspaper article mentions that Adelicia’s copy was hanging in an upstairs room beside a copy of Shakespeare and His Friends. Schussele painted another almost identical version of the painting soon after the original was completed. Today the original is housed in Philadelphia and the second is owned by the National Portrait Gallery.