Stipple engraving printed on hand laid paper; 47.9 x 65.5cm (18 7/8 x 25 13/16"). National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian), Washington, DC.
When Robert Edge Pine died in 1788, his widow asked Savage (who had moved to Philadelphia in 1795) to complete the painting her husband had been working on for four years, Congress Voting Independence.
Following completion of Pine’s painting in 1801, Savage planned to popularize and make money on it by producing an engraving, from which he would sell print versions. He began about 1803; when he died in 1817, however, the engraving plate was still not finished.
This image is especially significant because it depicts the old State House (now Independence Hall) and is considered to be the most accurate and indeed, the only rendition that we have of what the interior looked like when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Three figures are uncompleted; another three have no detail. Completed figures include (at center stage) John Adams, Roger Sherman, James Wilson, Thomas Jefferson — handing a document to John Hancock, president of the Congress. Seated in the front (left to right) are Samuel Adams, Robert Morris, Benjamin Franklin (in Windsor chair), and Charles Carroll of Carrollton. On the far right is Stephen Hopkins of Rhode Island, wearing his hat, in accord with Quaker practice.