Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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PELHAM, Peter, artist, born in England; died in Boston, Massachusetts, in December, 1751. He is supposed by some to have been a son of Peter Pelham, an English engraver, who was born, according to Michael Bryan, about 1684, but more probably he is the same man, Bryan's record of him and list of works being before he came to this country. He was the first engraver and earliest known artist in New England, and came from London to Boston at the close of the first quarter of the 18th century. His earliest known work here is a portrait of Cotton Mather, dated 1727, and inscribed "P. Pelham, ad vivum pinxit, ab origini fecit et excud." He also engraved after his own originals portraits of Reverend John Moorhead (1731) and Reverend Mather Byles. His productions on copper are executed in the deep mezzotint so prevalent in the early part of the 18th century, closely resembling the work of the well-known English scraper John Smith. Pelham, in addition to his labors as an artist, kept a school in Boston where he taught, as well as the ordinary branches, drawing, painting, and needlework. On 22 May, 1748, he married the widow of Richard Copley, the mother of John Singleton Copley, to whom Pelham gave instruction. His known plates, besides those already named, are likenesses of Reverend Benjamin Coleman (1734), Reverend William Cooper (1743), and Hey. Joseph Sewall, all after Smibert ; "Plan of the City and Fortress of Louisburg," after Richard Gridley (1746), Governor Shirley (1747), Reverend Edward Holyoke (1749), Reverend Thomas Prince (1750), and Thomas Hollis, after Highmore (1751).
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