Weccacoe Engine Panel Painting

Weccacoe Engine Panel Painting

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Description (Brief)
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 small fire engine panel painting is attributed to the Weccacoe Hose Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was formed in 1842 by members of the Weccacoe Fire Company who would not take a temperance pledge. It operated until 1854, when it was disbanded for rioting. In 1856, the City Council refused to admit the company to the newly organized Philadelphia Fire Department, which, although volunteer, was under the administrative and financial control of the city. The small round panel has a painted inscription on the reverse that notes that the company was “disbanded by order of the court for rioting” around 1854. The image may be that of the Wampanoag sachem, Metacomet, who led his people against the English settlers of southern New England in King Phillip’s War (1675-76). The painting is similar to a well-known image of Metacomet engraved by Paul Revere in the 1770s. The Indian leader was the protagonist in a popular 19th century stage play “The Last of the Wampanoags,” portrayed by Philadelphia’s Edwin Forrest, one of America’s most famous actors.
Currently not on view
Object Name
painting, engine panel
date made
mid 19th century
artist attribution
Etter, David Rent
Place Made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Physical Description
tin (overall material)
oil paint (image material)
overall: 5 3/4 in x 5 1/2 in; 14.605 cm x 13.97 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
Fire Fighting
Native Americans
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Cultures & Communities
Engine Panel Paintings
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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