The Concord Museum is celebrating the 375th anniversary of the town with an exhibit called “into your hands…,” featuring objects passed down in Concord families and entrusted to the museum. Among the items:
- The Bloody Massacre, the famed Revere engraving that was a milestone in America’s road to independence, owned by Emerson Cogswell, a hatmaker, in 1775 Concord. A gift to the Museum in 2002 by Cogswell’s great, great, great-granddaughter.
- Pvt. Abner Hosmer’s powderhorn, worn at the fight at the North Bridge, April 19, 1775, where the 21-year-old Acton native was killed. A gift to the Museum in 1936.
- An 18th-century high chest made in Concord and descended in the Wheeler Family of Concord. A gift to the Museum from the family of Wilfrid and Emily Wheeler in 1996.
My notes indicate that the Concord Museum’s copy of Paul Revere’s Boston Massacre print shows the same wounds as on the copy once owned by the New England Merchants National Bank and made into a poster for my office. (Okay, that might not have been the poster’s original purpose.) A man lying at the lower center bleeds from the head, and a man in the crowd at the left bleeds from two wounds in the chest.
The Massacre print now at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington is similar as well. In both that print and the poster, the figure bleeding from his chest looks slightly darker-skinned than the rest. Back here I wondered if he was supposed to represent Crispus Attucks.
The wounds and flesh tones are significant because they weren’t part of the underlying engraving. Revere and helpers (artistic partner Christian Remick, apprentices, kids?) painted the blood and skin by hand. So if the same wounds were painted onto most of the original prints, and that one face was usually given a light brown wash, then the team was trying to depict the figures in a very particular way. My poster says there are nine prints surviving from the first run. Someone test this hypothesis for me!