"Tidings from Lexington" Engine Panel Painting

In the nineteenth century, volunteer fire companies often commissioned paintings to decorate their hand-pumped fire engines for parades, competitions, and community events. Sometimes framed with elaborate carvings, they adorned the tall air chamber located at the middle or rear of a pumper. The paintings would often feature patriotic, heroic, or allegorical images to associate the volunteer companies with these lofty ideals.
This engine panel painting came from the Lexington Fire Engine Company No. 7 of New York, New York. The volunteer company was active from December 26, 1849 until September 18, 1865. The painting was signed by artist M. Betsch, and was completed around 1849. This painting depicts a rider (either Paul Revere or William Dawes) bringing news of the skirmish between the American militia and British troops at Lexington. The flag of the United States and the Gadsden (Don’t Tread on Me) flag frame the painting’s title at the bottom. The Lexington Fire Company used this painting to link their company to the patriotic deeds of their predecessors in the Revolutionary War. This painting and its companion piece (object 2005.0233.0302) would have adorned the sides of the company’s engines.
Currently not on view
Object Name
painting, engine panel
date made
ca 1849
Betsch, M.
Physical Description
composite wood (overall material)
oil paint (image material)
overall: 30 in x 17 1/2 in; 76.2 cm x 44.45 cm
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Cultures & Communities
Engine Panel Paintings
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
Additional Media

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