About this artwork
On March 9, 1819, Masonic Hall, built just 8 years earlier, burned to the ground. A Philadelphia publisher commissioned artists Samuel Jones and John Lewis Krimmel to create a composition of the fire’s devastation for distribution as a print (etched by John Hill). Circulation of such sensational events was an early 19th-century means of broadcasting news, expanding the reach of fine arts, and making a profit. Jones painted this work, which served as a study for the print. Krimmel, the nation’s first great genre painter, was hired to refine and amplify the figural scene in the foreground. As the print’s composition reveals significant changes to the figures, it is unknown if Krimmel executed any of the figures here, or if he developed his designs wholly apart from this painting.
- Samuel Jones
- Conflagration of the Masonic Hall, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- United States
- Oil on mahogany panel
- 48.4 × 60 cm (19 1/6 × 22 1/6 in.)
- Restricted gift of Wesley M. Dixon, Jr., Jamee J. and Marshall Field, Gloria and Richard Manney, Brooks and Hope B. McCormick Foundation, Mrs. Philip D. Sang, and Jeffrey Shedd; gift of Emily Crane Chadbourne, Leon Mandel, Stella Manheimer, Vena F. Schaaf, and Celia Schmidt by exchange; the Edward E. Ayer, Marian and Samuel Klasstorner, and A.A. McKay funds