Walter Scott


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Charles Burt (1823?-92)

The line-engraver Charles Burt was born in Edinburgh around 18231 and was apprenticed to William Home Lizars. In 1836, he emigrated to New York where he was employed for some time by another ex-patriot Scot, Alexander L. Dick, for whom he engraved a number of portraits and book illustrations. All works by Dick's team of engravers appeared under Dick's own name so it is difficult to attribute plates to Burt with any confidence. However, he is thought to be responsible for an acclaimed engraving of Leonardo's Last Supper. He went on to engrave a number of signed larger plates, principally for the American Art Union. These included Sir Walter Raleigh Parting with his Wife after Emanuel Leutze (1846), The Signing of the Death Warrant of Lady Jane Grey after Daniel Huntington (1848), Anne Page, Slender, and Shallow after Charles Robert Leslie (1850), Bargaining for a Horse after William Sidney Mount (1851), and Marion Crossing the Pedee after William Tylee Ranney (1851). He also engraved a well-received portrait of Longfellow after his own drawing from life. After 1850, Burt devoted himself primarily to banknote engraving, working for over thirty years as one of the chief engravers for the Treasury Department in Washington. He is chiefly remembered for engraving the portrait of Abraham Lincoln which appeared on the US five-dollar bill until the year 2000. His engraving of the 1820 bust of Sir Walter Scott by Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey appears to be his only Scott-related work.

1 Burt's date of birth is listed variously as 1822, 1823, or 1824. He was fifty-six years old in 1880 according to the US Census of that year.


  • Black, George Fraser. Scotland's Mark on America, introd. John Foord (New York: The Scottish Section of "American's Making", 1921)
  • Buss, Jacques (ed.). Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs de tous les temps et de tous les pays (Paris: Gründ, 1999)
  • Fielding, Mantle. Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers, 2nd, newly rev., enl., and updated edn, ed. Glenn B. Opitz (Poughkeepsie, NY: Apollo, 1986)
  • Stauffer, David McNeely, and Mantle Fielding. American Engravers upon Copper and Steel (New York: Franklin, [1964])
  • Sullivan, George. Picturing Lincoln: Famous Photographs that Popularized the President (New York: Clarion Books, 2000)
  • Thieme, Ulrich, and Felix Becker (eds). Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler: von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart (Leipzig: Seemann, 1907-50)
  • Weitenkampf, Frank. American Graphic Art, introd. E. Maurice Bloch (New York: Johnson Reprint Corp, 1970)

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Last updated: 02-Feb-2009
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