Description

    Oil Painting, "The Death Warrant of Major André" after Alonzo Chappel c.1880. The magnificent unsigned painting measures 32" x 26". It is in an extremely attractive contemporary gilt wood and gesso frame, 40" x 32" (overall). The colors are vivid and the canvass is very clean. A fine painting.

    John André was born 1750 in London to Huguenot parents. He entered the British Army at the age of twenty, and moved to North America and joined his regiment, the 23rd Foot, in Canada in 1774 as a lieutenant. He was captured at Saint Johns in November 1775, and held a prisoner at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, until December 1776, when he was exchanged. He was promoted to captain in 1777, and to major in 1778. He was a great favorite in society, both in Philadelphia and New York during their occupation by the British Army. During his nearly nine months in Philadelphia, André occupied Benjamin Franklin's house.
    In 1779, he became adjutant-general of the British Army with the rank of major. In April, he was placed in charge of the British Secret Intelligence. By the next year (1780) he had begun to plot with American General Benedict Arnold. Arnold's Loyalist wife, Peggy Shippen, was a close friend of André from the time of his stay in Philadelphia, and the two courted prior to Shippen's marriage to Arnold; she was probably the go-between. Arnold, who commanded West Point, had agreed to surrender it to the British for £20,000 - a move that would have enabled the British to cut New England off from the rest of the rebellious colonies.

    André went up the Hudson River on September 20, 1780, to visit Arnold. After meeting with Arnold, André was provided common clothes and a passport in order to escape through American lines. André took the name John Anderson. Arnold also gave six papers (written in Arnold's hand) showing the British how the fort could be taken. André hid them in his stocking. André rode on in safety until 9 A.M. on September 23 when he came near Tarrytown, New York, where three men with guns stopped him. His captors searched him and found Arnold's papers in his stocking. He was arrested and held.

    General George Washington convened a board of senior officers to investigate the matter. The board found André guilty of being behind American lines "under a feigned name and in a disguised habit", and that "Major André, Adjutant-General to the British army, ought to be considered as a Spy from the enemy, and that agreeable to the law and usage of nations, it is their opinion, he ought to suffer death."

    Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander in New York, did all he could to save André, but refused to surrender Arnold (who had escaped to British lines upon learning of Andre's capture) in exchange for André even though André was his favorite aide. André appealed to George Washington to be executed by firing squad, but by the rules of war he was to be hanged as a spy.

    Major Andre walked from the stone house in which he had been confined.
    He stepped quickly into the wagon. He slipped the noose over his head and adjusted it to his neck, without the assistance of the awkward executioner. When he was offered the opportunity to speak, he said, "I pray you to bear me witness that I meet my fate like a brave man." Those were his last words.




    Fees, Shipping, and Handling Description: Framed - without Glass, Large (view shipping information)

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    Auction Dates
    November, 2007
    12th-13th Monday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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