Saint-Mémin print collection
The Saint-Mémin print collection consists of more than 250 portraits created by French engraver Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de Saint-Mémin. The items span the years 1796-1809.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research use.
Conditions Governing Use
The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.
Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de Saint-Mémin was born in France in 1770. He served as an officer in the French Army, and was exiled after the French Revolution. When he arrived in the United States in 1793, he began to teach himself the arts of engraving and painting, producing some views of New York City as early as 1794. His first work was published in 1796, the year he began a portrait business with Thomas Bluget de Valdenuit, a fellow Frenchman. The two utilized the physiognotrace, a device whereby a sitter's profile was traced by a bar, and a pantograph, with a piece of chalk attached to its end, drew the same profile in a smaller dimension onto a piece of paper. Details were then added to the outline drawing. Another pantograph was used to trace the drawing and produce a continuous line engraving on a copper plate. Saint-Mémin then utilized a roulette, a tool of his own invention, to produce shading on the engravings. The sitter usually received the drawing, the copper plate and a dozen engravings for a set fee.
While in business with Valdenuit, Saint-Mémin produced the engravings from his partner's drawings. The partnership dissolved after about a year, and Saint-Mémin went on to create both the portrait drawings and engravings himself. He left New York in 1798, and traveled down the east coast of the United States, with stays in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, and Charleston. In 1810, Saint-Mémin returned to France, effectively ending his portrait business. He returned briefly to America, but moved to France in 1814, where he lived until his death in 1852. During his stay in America, Saint-Mémin drew a total of more than 900 portraits and engraved more than 800 of these.
Source: New York Historical Society, Guide to the Saint-Mémin Print Collection.
5 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
Language of Materials
The collection is organized into three series.
- Series I: Portraits
- Series I consists of loose portraits by Saint-Mémin. There are also some reproductions, negatives, a few copperplates and one silverplate. The portraits are organized alphabetically.
- Series II: Ephemera
- This series consists of three pieces of ephemera related to Saint-Mémin’s prints.
- Series III: Albums
- This series consists of two albums of portraits by Saint-Mémin collected by Elizabeth L. Clark and Bertha Lee Jenkins Miller and donated to the Maryland Historical Society in 1947. The albums are organized in rough alphabetical order. Three portraits are missing from the albums: John B. Bordley, Thomas Jefferson, and Martin Luther. The box also contains two exhibit label boxes for the albums.
Collection is located above Large Print Collection.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Saint-Mémin Print Collection was given by various donors in three different accessions: Accession #54315: Mrs. Thomas C. Jenkins; Accession #51276: Elizabeth L. Clark; Accession #49741: L. H. Dielman; Dec. 1954, 1947, 1944.
The collection was originally part of MS 718 but items were transferred to the Graphics Division in 1977 processed as a print collection in 2014.
Scope and Contents
The Saint-Mémin Print Collection consists of 5 boxes of more than 250 prints by French engraver Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de Saint-Mémin, as well as a few other pieces of ephemera housed in folders. The prints are moslty loose portraits along with two albums of portraits. Ephemera includes a brochure, card, and advertisements.
In 1862, Elias Dexter published The St.-Mémin Collection of Portraits, containing photographs of Saint-Mémin's American portraits and biographical sketches of the sitters. Although some sitters were misidentified in the volume, it has been used as a standard means for identification of the Saint-Mémin portraits. Dexter's numbers that he assigned to each portrait can be found as item identifiers in the container list (note: the numbers to do not correspond to a chronological or alphabetical listing).
- Guide to the Saint-Mémin print collection
- In Progress
- Damon Talbot
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- 2020-03-04: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Emily Somach.
Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository
H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States