This engraving commemorates Henry Clay’s farewell speech to the Senate on March 31, 1842, and is often considered the finest depiction of the United States Senate. Senator Clay of Kentucky appears in the left background, standing. The scene includes more than 100 likenesses that are based on individual daguerreotypes produced between 1843 and 1844 by the photographic studio of Edward Anthony. While the composite provides accurate portraits of scores of senators and distinguished Americans, the individuals depicted never appeared in the chamber at the same time. Despite such artistic license, the engraving was well received. One contemporary writer remarked, "there are persons introduced who were not there, and this is not only done with perfect propriety, but it gives the picture more the air of a historical composition, and renders it far more valuable than it would have been had the artists confined themselves to a merely slavish and mechanical accuracy."1 The print was widely circulated and fed the public’s growing appetite for inexpensive and faithful images of the country’s most prominent citizens.
1. "The United States Senate Chamber," The American Review: A Whig Journal of Politics, Literature, Art and Science 4, no. 4 (October 1846): 431-432.