This lithograph of 1831 depicts the Wetherill & Brothers White Lead Manufactory & Chemical Works, located at the corner of 12th and Cherry Streets in Philadelphia. Barrels, a horse-drawn cart, and a few workmen are seen in the courtyard of the U-shaped industrial complex, while dark smoke rises from several chimneys. White lead is a chemical compound made up of lead, carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, historically used to make white paint. It was an important industrial product in 19th-century America, later banned for use in paint in the United States and most other countries as a cause of lead poisoning. The print was published in James Mease and Thomas Porter's Picture of Philadelphia from 1811 to 1831: Giving an account of its origin, increase and improvements in arts, sciences, manufactures, commerce and revenue (Philadelphia, 1831). The illustration is by William L. Breton, a watercolorist and early lithographer of Philadelphia scenes who was active in the city between about 1825 and 1855. Born in England circa 1773, Breton immigrated to Philadelphia around 1824. In the late 1820s, he contributed illustrations to Annals of Philadelphia, compiled by the antiquarian John F. Watson. In 1829 Breton entered the lithographic trade to execute the illustrations for the Annals. He worked extensively with the firm of Kennedy & Lucas, operated by David Kennedy and William B. Lucas, which produced Annals of Philadelphia. Breton also contributed to other publications at this time, including Mease and Porter's Picture of Philadelphia, also produced by Kennedy & Lucas, the first commercial lithographers in Philadelphia.
References: William L. Breton, Philadelphia on Stone Biographical Dictionary, Library Company of Philadelphia, http://www.lcpdigital.org. | Philadelphia on Stone Biographical Dictionary of Lithographers, http://www.librarycompany.org/pos/posdictionary.htm.
Note: Digital catalog number: POS 832
Place: North America; United States of America; Pennsylvania; Philadelphia
Institution: The Library Company of Philadelphia
Physical description: 1 print : lithograph ; 10 x 18 centimeters