The Acquisitions Table: Clear the Track!

Sartain, Samuel after Christian Schussele. Clear the Track! Philadelphia: Samuel Sartain, for the Art Union of Philadelphia, 1854. 

Founded in 1844, the Art Union of Philadelphia issued six engravings to its subscribing members between 1847 and 1854 in an attempt to promote and disseminate American art in the region.  With generous support from the Richard A. Heald Foundation, the Society is attempting to build a complete set of all of the prints issued by art unions from across the country before 1876.  This print of rambunctious children sledding down a snowy hill was based on a painting by Christian Schussele, who emigrated to the U.S. from Alsace in 1848 and worked in Philadelphia as a successful lithographer and artist.  Samuel Sartain was paid $900 to engrave Clear the Track for the Art Union of Philadelphia and his work on the print won him a medal when the engraving was exhibited at the Franklin Institute.  Reviews in the local press called the print “beautiful” and stated: “It is really a gem of art.” It was also the last print issued by the Art Union of Philadelphia, which was disbanded in 1855.

Published by

Lauren Hewes

Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts, American Antiquarian Society

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