CARTOUCHE FROM A MAP OF THE MOST INHABITED PART OF VIRGINIA
Designed by Francis Hayman (1708 – 1776)
Engraved by Charles Grignion (1717 – 1810)
HOA 7”, WOA: 10”
Gift of Frank L. Horton (acc. 2490)
Most seventeenth- and eighteenth-century maps featured decorative cartouches that contained the bibliographic information. Realizing the importance of Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson’s work, Thomas Jefferys hired a well-known artist, Francis Hayman, to create a special design that reflected the tobacco-based economy of the Chesapeake. The vast network of navigable waterways flowing from the Chesapeake Bay spared large-scale plantation owners the added expense of transporting their crops over land. Not only was land transportation more expensive, but damage to tobacco was greater. These tributaries also made it possible for large-scale planters to construct wharves on their own plantations, allowing them to negotiate directly with ship captains, which is the scene illustrated in the cartouche.
Characteristic of eighteenth-century graphics, the placement of the figures is symbolic. The planter’s elevated social status is indicated by the fact that he is the only one seated and also the only one being served wine or port. The man standing in the foreground is presumably the ship captain. The scantily clothed laborers represent the large labor force necessary for Chesapeake tobacco cultivation. Their subservient role is reinforced by the fact that none of them face the direction of the viewer.
To create the setting, it is likely that Hayman depicted a view of London’s wharves along the Thames that would have been familiar to him. Warehouses constructed of stone block would not have seemed out of place along the shores of the Thames, however, in Virginia and Maryland those structures would certainly have been made of wood. Eighteenth-century gentlemen would have immediately recognized that the material properties of stone create a sense of solidity and permanence not associated with wood. The stone structure in the cartouche provided a subtle device to indicate England’s secure position over both the land and imported labor force.