American, b. Switzerland, c. 1803–1870
The Great Elm Tree of Shackamaxon, c. 1830
Aquatint and etching with hand coloring, first state of two, 14 5/8 x 18 3/4 inches
Partial gift and purchase from John C. O’Connor and Ralph M. Yeager
George Lehman, a painter specializing in landscape who was also trained in printmaking, immigrated to the United States from his native Switzerland in 1824. He settled in Philadelphia, where he produced lithographs and engravings in partnership with some of the city’s leading print publishers, such as Cephas G. Childs and Peter Duval.
Lehman’s aquatint depicts the Penn Treaty Elm, as the tree was known, standing along the shore of the Delaware River, just north of the city of Philadelphia (visible in the background). The tree is thought to have marked the location in the indigenous village of Shackamaxon—later to become the Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington—where William Penn negotiated a treaty in the early 1680s with Tamanend, chief of the Lenape people, who inhabited the lands where Pennsylvania was established.