The fatal March 5, 1770 riot in Boston—immediately rebranded by Patriots as a “massacre”—was immediately seized upon as a worthy subject for depiction in print. Revere’s “Bloody Massacre” engraving, pirated from a drawing by artist Henry Pelham, was advertised the Boston press as soon as March 26, while Pelham’s own version appeared just a week or so thereafter. Both versions were rushed and rather crude in execution, Revere’s especially so. But they made for exciting viewing and effective propaganda, transforming a squad of ill-prepared, terrified redcoats into a line of grinning executioners and a mob of rioting Bostonians into innocent victims.
Within months the image was pirated repeatedly both in Massachusetts and in London. Offered here is one of the London editions, engraved for The Freeholder’s Magazine by an unknown artist.
“The third English printing of the Massacre plate is in The Freeholder’s Magazine for May, 1770, London, printed for Isaac Fell, opposite page 136, accompanied by a six-page article giving an account of the massacre. The print, which is newly engraved, follows the Dilly print [published as the frontis to the London edition of The Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre] carefully. There are minor differences…. The outstanding difference is the omission of the nonchalant dog in the foreground, the only instance in contemporaneous prints where this prominent animal is omitted.” (Brigham, p. 70)
All contemporary versions of the “Bloody Massacre” engraving are rare.
Brigham, Paul Revere’s Engravings, pp. 52-78 (The Freeholder’s Magazine version is described on p. 70 and illustrated on plate 21.) Not in Cresswell, The American Revolution in Drawings and Prints.
Trimmed inside plate mark all around, with loss of “Freeholders Magazine” imprint at top