The landscape painter and inventor Joshua Shaw, also known as Shaw of Bath, was born in Bellingborough, Lincolnshire, England. After an apprenticeship to a sign painter, he began painting still lifes, landscapes, and copies after famous painters such as Thomas Gainsborough (1727‑1788) and Claes (Nicolaes) Pietersz Berchem (1620‑1683). Beginning in 1802 Shaw exhibited at the Royal Academy, the British Institute, and Suffolk Street Gallery in London. He spent a few years in Bath (hence the appellation) before emigrating to America in 1817, settling in Philadelphia. Shaw made a trip to the South in 1819‑20, preparing sketches and taking subscriptions for his publication Picturesque Views of American Scenery . . . from Drawings by Joshua Shaw (1820), engraved by John Hill. Shaw traveled throughout the country, making watercolors and topographical drawings of the "best and most popular views" as well as sketches of Indian and frontier life. Shaw resided in Philadelphia until 1843, when he moved to Bordentown, New Jersey. He died in Burlington, New Jersey, in 1861.
Shaw exhibited frequently from 1818 to 1854 in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston before beginning a career as an inventor of naval weaponry. The inscription on the back of this painting refers to his invention of the percussion cap, a small metal cap, containing fulminating powder, that was used in the percussion lock of a gun to explode gunpowder. Shaw's paintings are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the M. and M. Karolik Collection in Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
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