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A View of Savannah…

Artist/Maker:
Fourdrinier, Pierre __Engraver ||Jones, George __After ||Jones, Noble __After
Place Made:
London Great Britain
Date Made:
1734
Medium:
ink on paper
Dimensions:
In Frame: HOA 27-1/16″; WOA 31-1/2″
Accession Number:
5497
Description:
A View of Savannah… presents the design of the town as it was envisioned by James Edward Oglethorpe (1696-1785), founder of the Georgia colony. As the bird’s-eye view illustrates, the original plan of Savannah was comprised of four public wards and four residential wards, each of the latter containing forty house lots measuring precisely sixty by ninety feet. In 1734 Baron Philip Georg Friedrich von Reck, wrote of the settlement: “The city lies on the bank of the river of the same name, is built regularly, and is divided into four wards. In each of these an extensive square park has been left for holding markets or for being used for other common good…the streets are wide and laid in straight lines. The houses are all of one style and are placed with symmetry and proportion…. All the inhabitants are white, and so far God has blessed all their enterprise.”

The precision of the design and Oglethorpe’s egalitarian approach to the division of land reflect his regimented military background as well as his utopian vision of the Georgia colony as a place to provide relief for people languishing in debtors prisons and persecuted foreign Protestants. The philanthropic aims of the early colony prohibited slavery and the presence of rum.

In November 1733, a draft of the town plan was sent back to the Georgia Trustees in London to be engraved and incorporated with other materials designed to promote the new colony. The setting for Savannah, perfectly carved out of the dense wilderness and laid out in a uniform manner, supported the notion that the English were adept at mastering the American environment and establishing order out of chaos.

The original artist of the view was erroneously believed to be Peter Gordon because of the inscription and the designation “P. Gordon Inv” below the lower left corner of the engraving. Recent research has proven differently. In 1733 Peter Gordon, an upholsterer by trade, sailed from Savannah to London carrying, among other documents, a plat of the town of Savannah drawn by Savannah’s surveyor Noble Jones with instructions for converting the pat into a perspective view of the town. Gordon served as courier between George Jones, a London draughtsman (probably a relative of Noble Jones) and the engraver Fourdrinier to produce the perspective drawing and engraving. George Jone’s original drawing is in the University of Georgia Library where, until 1989, it had been incorrectly identified as a copy of the engraving rather than its manuscript model.

Credit Line:
MESDA Trade