January 2009 Archives

Ralph Barton

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In 1924, Ralph Waldo Emerson Barton (1891-1931) was asked to serve as an advisory editor to Harold Ross for his new magazine The New Yorker, along with Marc Connelly, George Kaufman, Rea Irvin, Alice Duer Miller, Dorothy Parker, and Alexander Woollcott. These artists and writers were expected to contribute material to be printed anonymously, in exchange for stock, while retaining rights for reprints themselves. In one week alone, in the late 1924s, Barton completed eighty-five drawings. He was at the height of his career and one of the highest paid artists working in New York City. His drawings are, for many, synonymous with the 1920s.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of Barton’s drawings were published unsigned and few survive in their original format. Besides The New Yorker, he worked for Collier’s, The Delineator, Everybody’s magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Hearst’s International, Judge, Leslie’s Weekly, Liberty, New York Herald Tribune, Photoplay, Puck, Satire, Shadowland, Vanity Fair, and many more. He illustrated many books, including Droll Stories by Honoré de Balzac, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes by Anita Loos, The Tattooed Countess by Carl Van Vechten, and his own God’s Country. He also made one film, at the urging of his friend Charlie Chaplin, entitled Camille: The Fate of a Coquette, starring Paul Robeson, Sinclair Lewis, George Jean Nathan, Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, Alfred Knopf, Ethel Barrymore, Somerset Maugham, and many of his other friends.

The drawings in the Graphic Arts Division were published in Judge under the section “Judge’s Rotogravure section; The News of the Globe in Pictures by Ralph Barton”. They are not included in any published listing of Barton’s work. We can only assume they are from the 1920s.

When Barton shot himself in 1931, he left two notes. The first, titled “Obit,” was an explanation of his suicide, which he attributed to melancholia. Barton wrote, “No one thing is responsible for this and no one person—except myself. If the gossips insist on something more definite and thrilling as a reason, let them choose my pending appointment with the dentist or the fact that I happened to be painfully short of cash at the moment.” The second note was to his housekeeper, leaving her $35 and an apology that it was all he had left.

John Updike (1932-2009) selected only a few, favorite artists to write about in The New Yorker, later republished in Just Looking, and one was Ralph Barton. “Barton’s caricatures are not idignant, like Daumier’s, or frenzied, like Gerald Scarfe’s,” he wrote, “they are decoratively descriptive.” Then, Updike quoted Barton speaking of his own work, “It is not the caricaturist’s business to be penetrating; it is his job to put down the figure a man cuts before his fellows in his attempt to conceal the writhings of his soul.”

Later, in a foreword to Bruce Kellner’s biography on Barton, Updike wrote

“In the fury of his life and career Barton was careless of his work; most of his originals are lost, destroyed by him or by the engravers whose indifferent, coarsely screened reproductions are all we have left. …A lost Manhattan and a lost decade live again in the particulars of Barton’s hectic career. The life was less happy than it should have been, considering its achievement; the best of Barton’s art is like a perfect flower, wiry and fluent, blooming in the wilderness of his era’s commercial art.”

Bruce Kellner, The Last Dandy, Ralph Barton: American Artist, 1891-1931 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, c1991) Firestone Library (F) NC139.B36 K45 1991

John Updike (1932-2009), Just Looking: Essays on Art (New York: Knopf; Distributed by Random House, 1989) Rare Books (Ex) N71 .U64 1989

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Fig. 1: Ralph Barton (1891-1931), The News of the Globe in Pictures (Judge, no date). Pen and ink, wash on paper. Frame 1—4,000 miles of 20-inch reinforced rubber tubing. Frame 2—Mss Carrie Wardrobe. Frame 3—Training polo ponies at Meadowbrook. Frame 4—Silent Cal. Frame 5—Mis Gloria Swanson. Frame 6—Device to let rooms on courts at seaside hotels. Graphic Arts division GA 2006.02584

Fig. 2: Ralph Barton (1891-1931), The News of the Globe in Pictures (Judge, July 12, 192?). Pen and ink, wash on paper. Frame 1—Water sprites at a limpid woodland pool. Frame 2—William Jennings Bryan. Frame 3—A modern Jean Bart. Frame 4—Senatorial entries. Frame 5—Staunch champion of the principles of democracy. Frame 6—Playtime for Americans in Europe. Graphic Arts division GA 2006.01928

Fig. 3: Ralph Barton (1891-1931), The News of the Globe in Pictures (Judge, May 31, 192?). Pen and ink, wash on paper. Frame 1—College prexy in hot water; Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, of Columbia University being pressed by reporters to back up his recent allegation that several congressmen habitually appear on the floor of the House sober enough to stand alone. Frame 2—The blessings of liberty at the White House; Though denied the ecstasy of shaking their President by the hand, a new ruling at the executive mansion still permits 1,450,000 citizens daily to feast their eyes on him as he works at his desk. Frame 3—Crazy Ik, village idiot of Pt. Barrow, Alaska; said to be the only American citizen who still believes that the Income Tax will be reduced. Frame 4—Borrowing an idea from Hollywood; William Gibbs McAdoo carries a small orchestra as a part of his touring equipment to aid him in working himself up to the proper emotional pitch to make his campaign speeches more effective. Frame 5—Joseph Hergesheimer, Carl Van Vechten, and James Branch Cabell; The only American authors who have never acted in amateur theatricals, honor the bust of Joseph Conrad, the only British author who has never lectured in America. Frame 6—The latest in feminism; New York’s police commissioner, Richard Enright (left) welcomes “Copperette” Sarah Jones (right) head of the Liverpool policewomen who has gone her London sister-officer one better in smart turn-outs by raising a mustache. Graphic Arts division GA 2006.01927

Fig. 4: Ralph Barton (1891-1931), Camera Shots by Ralph Barton (Judge, April 12, 192?). Pen and ink, wash on paper. Frame 1—Reincarnation of Sappho? Sadie Snipt, whose dance recitals have startled Omaha, claims the Greek poetess is re-born in her. Frame 2—America’s premiere showman again turns to Europe for talent; Morris Gest signs the Prince of Wales for eight matinees of his great equestrian act at Madison Square Garden. Frame 3—A gift for the president; Calvin Coolidge receives a mother-of-pearl colander full of brass cole-slaw from an admirer. Frame 4—In training for the White House; Wm.G. McAddo, in Apring Training Camp, learning to throw out the first ball of the season. Frame 5—Playtime at the Capital; Senators and Representatives enjoy a few letters from constituents demanding Income Tax reduction. Frame 6—Notable gathering of leading American reformers; Photographed at a banquet given last month to celebrate Anthony Comstock. Graphic Arts division GA 2009.00076

American Sunday School Union

Unpublished album containing 1000 wood engravings. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize Hamilton 1674q

This album holds a collection of wood engravings used in books published by the American Sunday School Union (ASSU) of Philadelphia. Judging from the dates which occasionally occur, the period covered is from the early 1820s to 1831. All the cuts have been carefully organized chronologically and numbered in pen. Over 70 are by George Gilbert, along with designs by Reuben S. Gilbert, Christian F. Gobrecht (1785-1844), Alexander Anderson (1775-1870), and John Warner Barber (1798-1885).

This is book one of two volumes. The second album, beginning with 1831, is held by the Library Company of Philadelphia. Special thanks go to their rare book curator Cornelia King for her research on these sample books.

The ASSU was founded in 1824 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to promote early literacy and spiritual development of children, teaching them to read through the use of booklets published by the Union. The ASSU continued its publication program until l960 and some time later changed its name to the American Missionary Fellowship, which is how we know them today. Although the publications were meant to be nondenominational, many of the images tell biblical stories with a conservative leaning. No. 608 shows Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with a note below: "Not to be used unless clothed."

Vandercook Book

The Vandercook Book (New York: Roni Gross and Barbara Henry, 2009). Edition: 100. Graphic Arts (GAX) 2009- in process

The first Vandercook printing press was developed by Robert Vandercook, working in Chicago in September 1909, and so, this is its one hundredth anniversary. To celebrate, Roni Gross and Barbara Henry at the New York Center for the Book have assembled and published a limited edition box set highlighting the work that master printers across the county are doing on their Vandercooks.

This anniversary edition includes 30 broadsides by 30 diverse printers working with monotype, polymer plates, linoleum, and many other printing surfaces on a variety of papers. A bound pamphlet with essays by Barbara Henry, Henry Morris of Bird & Bull Press, Michael Peich of Aralia Press, Fritze Klinke of NA Graphics, Paul Moxon and Perry Tymeson is also included.

Later this spring, a traveling exhibition of the printed works from this edition can be seen at The Printing Museum in Houston Texas, Rutgers University in New Jersey, Columbia University in New York, The Book Club of California and the University of Washington.

A vandercook blog: http://vandercookpress.info/vanderblog/

The Well-Equipped Printing Shop

Johann Heinrich Gottfried Ernesti (1664-1723), Die wol-eingerichtete Buchdruckerey: mit hundert und achtzehen teutsch-, lateinisch-, griechisch-, und hebräischen Schrifften, vieler fremden Sprachen Alphabeten, musicalischen Noten, Calender-Zeichen, und medicinischen Characteren, ingleichen allen üblichen Formaten bestellet… (Nürnberg: Gedruckt und zu finden bey Johann Andreä Endters seel. Sohn und Erben, 1721). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2006-0269Q

This German printers’ manual describes an early 18th-century printing office. The shop, first owned by Michael Endter (fl. 1653-1662) and his family, was purchased by Johann Ernesti in 1717. As seen in the engraved frontispiece, Ernesti had two working presses. One is engraved with the dated 1440, for the beginning of printing, and the other 1730, to signify the printing of this issue of the manual. Nine men are working inside the shop setting the type, proofreading the copy, and printing the pages.

The manual begins with thirteen biographies and engraved portraits of early printers, including Laurens Janszoon Koster (ca. 1370-ca. 1440), Johannes Gutenberg (ca. 1398-1468), Johann Fust (ca. 1400-1466), Aldus Manutius (1449/1450-1515), Christophe Plantin (ca. 1520-1589), among others.

Over one hundred type specimens are introduced, including 47 Black Letter, 21 Roman, 14 Italic types, as well as Slavic, Greek, and Hebrew fonts. In addition, there are special calendar symbols, astrological signs, and engraved music fonts.

ELuArd's dADa jOUrnAl pROverBE

Paul Éluard (1895-1952), editor, Proverbe (No 1, fév. 1920-No 6, juil. 1921). Graphic Arts (GAX) 2009- in process

Graphic Arts recently acquired a complete set of the Dada periodical Proverbe, edited by the French poet Paul Éluard (born Eugène Émile Paul Grindel, 1895-1952). Not only is this an incredibly rare set, difficult to find in its complete six issues, but our copy is extra illustrated with a fabulous array of Dada research materials. These include:

A handwritten letter from Paul Eluard to the French writer Édouard Dujardin (1861-1949) July 1, 1920.

An invitation to the Max Ernst (1891-1976) exhibition at the “Sans Pareil” Gallery in 1920. This show introduced Ernst and his collages to Parisian society.

A vintage photograph of Eluard along with André Breton (1896-1966), Philippe Soupault (1897-1990), Jacques Rigaud (1681-1754) and Serge Charchoune (1888-1975) at the Ernst opening at the “Sans Pareil” Gallery.

A vintage photograph of Tristan Tzara (1896-1963), Breton and Rigaud.

A poster for Excursions et visites dada. 1ère visite: Eglise Saint Julien le Pauvre. Jeudi, 14 avril (1921). Signers include Buffet, Aragon, Arp, Breton, Éluard, Fraenkel, Hussar, Péret, Picabia, Ribemont-Dessaignes, Rigaut, Soupault et Tzara.

An original drawing by Louis Favre (1892-1956) of Celine Arnauld (1885-1952)

An original prospectus and subscription bulletin for Proverbe

Contemporary photographic portraits of Breton and Tzara printed in offset, and press clippings with photographs of Tzara and Éluard from the forties.

The volume is bound in boards with tipped on duplicate wrappers from Proverbe No. 6 Numero Speciale d’Art et Poesie. Also tipped into the volume are seven hand-written pages describing the importance of Proverbe with the original bookseller’s description of this special copy.

How to Reform a Country

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), Voyages de Gulliver dans des contrées lointaines; édition illustrée par J.J.Grandville (1803-1847) (Paris: H. Fournier ainé, 1838). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), 2005-2172N

A Voyage To Laputa, Chapter 6. The Author proposes some Improvements which are honorably received.

I told him… the Bulk of the People consisted wholly of Discoverers, Witnesses, Informers, Accusers, Prosecutors, Evidences, Swearers…. The Plots in that Kingdom are usually the Workmanship of those Persons who desire to raise their own Characters of profound Politicians…to fill their Coffers with Forfeitures; and raise or sink the Opinion of public Credit.

It is first agreed and settled among them, what suspected Persons shall be accused of a Plot: Then, effectual Care is taken to secure all their Letters and other Papers, and put the Owners in Chains. These Papers are delivered to a Set of Artists, very dexterous in finding out the mysterious Meanings of Words, Syllables and Letters.

For Instance, they can decipher a Close-stool to signify a Privy-Council; a Flock of Geese, a Senate; a lame Dog, an Invader; the Plague, a standing Army; a Buzzard, a Minister; the Gout, a High Priest; a Gibbet, a Secretary of State; a Chamber pot, a Committee of Grandees; a Sieve, a Court Lady; a Broom, a Revolution; a Mouse-trap, an Employment; a bottomless Pit, the Treasury; a Sink, a C—-t; a Cap and Bells, a Favorite; a broken Reed, a Court of Justice; an empty Tun, a General; a running Sore, the Administration.

Full text in English: http://www.jaffebros.com/lee/gulliver/contents.html


GA 2009- in process

I am catching up on past issues of McSweeney’s.

McSweeney’s was founded in 1998 by Dave Eggers on a mission to published only works rejected by other magazines. Ten years later, artists and authors seek out the magazine to present their latest work. Beyond the literary awards, McSweeney’s has won multiple design awards including AIGA 50 Books Award, AIGA 365 Illustration Award, and the Print Design Regional Award.

Every issue has a unique theme and physical format, such as McSweeney’s 28 shown here. The theme is 21st-century fables with text by Daniel Alarcón, Sheila Heti, Nathan Englander, and five others. A different illustrator worked on each volume and the entire set of eight small books is boxed to form two additional images.

Issue no. 19 comes in a cigar box-type container. Inside you find a stash of “recovered works”: pamphlets, info-cards, and letters such as might be pulled from anyone’s closet, except these include T.C. Boyle’s feral child novella and other equally curious stories.

The current issue has art on every page, bound with a die-cut cover and wrapped in several kinds of cloth. To see the run to date: http://store.mcsweeneys.net/

Jonathan Belcher "Destroy the plate & burn all the impressions"

John Faber (died 1756) after a painting by Richard Phillips (1681-1741), His Excellency Jonathan Belcher, Esqr. 1734. Mezzotint. Gift of Samuel S. Dennis and Charles W. McAlpin, Class of 1888. Graphic Arts division GC 018

This is a mezzotint engraving of Jonathan Belcher (1682-1757) made while he was Royal Governor of Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire prior to becoming Governor of New Jersey and a strong supporter of the newly founded College of New Jersey (later known as Princeton University). Gov. Belcher gave the college 474 books from his private collection, making our library the sixth largest in the colonies.

“Concerning the Phillips portrait and the engraving of it, Belcher wrote from Boston on August 7, 1734, to his son, Jonathon Belcher, Jr., who was then in London: ‘I see you had rec’d my picture from Mr Caswall. I think it is not much like, tho’ a good piece of paint, done by Mr Phillips of Great Queen Street out of Lincoln’s Inn Fields. I am surprised & much displeas’d at what your uncle writes me of Mr Newman & your having my picture done on a copperplate. How cou’d you presume to do such a thing without my special leave and order? You shou’d be wise and consider the consequences of things before you put ‘em in execution. Such a foolish affair will pull down much envy, and give occasion to your father’s enemies to squirt & squib & what not. It is therefore my order, if this comes to hand timely that you destroy the plate & burn all the impressions taken from it.”

Princeton University Library Chronicle 14, no.4 (Summer 1953): 172.

Contributions to Ornithology

Sir William Jardine (1800-1874), Drawings for Contributions to Ornithology, no date. Index to plates inserted. Graphic Arts division GC025

This two volume scrapbook contains 131 leaves of mounted drawings, pattern plates for the colorist, and uncolored proof impressions compiled by the Scottish naturalist William Jardine for his five volume Contributions to Ornithology. The project followed directly after his hugely popular 40 volume Naturalist Library published in 1843 (GAX 2007-0067N), which established his position in Victorian society and his reputation as an ornithologist.

Contributions was issued in parts from 1848 to 1852 and is considered the first British periodical devoted to ornithology. Jardine meant the series to be an annual updating of the latest ornithological information. It was a family project with Jardine as principal organizer, artist, and author. His daughter Catherine Strickland executed many of the plates and his other daughter Helen did some drawing. Other contributors included T.C. Eyton, John Gould, and Philip Sclater.

For more information, see Christine Elisabeth Jackson and Peter Davis, Sir William Jardine: a Life in Natural History (London: Leicester University Press, 2001) Annex B, Fine Hall, QH31.J37 J23 2001

Photoxylography and Timothy Cole

Timothy Cole (1852-1931), Abraham Lincoln, 1928. Wood engraving. Graphic Arts division GC030.
Timothy Cole (1852-1931), Untitled portrait of white-haired man, 1917. Wood engraving. Graphic Arts division GC030.

Timothy Cole (not to be confused with the painter Thomas Cole) was a “new school” reproductive wood engraver who made a career of reproducing famous works of art for Scribner’s Monthly. His technique, developed in the 1870s, involved painting a wood block with light-sensitive chemistry, then placing a photographic negative on the block, and developing out the image in a few minutes of sunlight. This allowed him to carve the block without redrawing the image and to create an ink print that had all the subtly of the continuous tone photograph. The technique is sometimes called “photoxylography.”

“Now the engraving is nothing, absolutely nothing,” wrote Cole. “It is the reproduction of the original alone that concerns me … [The engraver] must not speak his own words, nor do his own works, nor think his own thoughts, but must be the organ through which the mind of the artist speaks.”

“Old school” engravers deplored the “new school” kids. William James Linton wrote many articles against reproduction without interpretation, including “Art in Engraving on Wood,” Atlantic Monthly June 1879, criticizing Timothy Cole in particular. As often happens, the younger generation won out and most wood cutting from then on was done with the assistance of photography.

Timothy Cole (1852-1931) after a painting by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), John D. Rockefeller, Sr., 1921. Wood engraving. Graphic Arts division GC030.

Timothy Cole (1852-1931) after a painting by Albert Gustaf Aristide Edelfelt (1854-1905), Louis Pasteur in His Laboratory, Paris, 1925. Wood engraving. Graphic Arts division GC030.

Rules and Examples of Perspective Proper

Andrea Pozzo (1642-1709), Rules and Examples of Perspective Proper for Painters and Architects, etc. in English and Latin: Continuing a Most Easy and Expeditious Method to Delineate in Perspective all Designs Relating to Architecture, After a New Manner Wholly Free from the Confusion of Occult Lines… (London: Printed by Benj. Motte: Sold by John Sturt …, 1707). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2007-0007F

Andrea Pozzo was a remarkable Italian painter and architect of the Baroque period. Known for his frescoes using illusionist perspective, Pozzo’s most dramatic work can be found in Rome in the painting of the dome, apse, and ceiling of the Church of S. Ignazio (1685-1694). As this project was being completed, Pozzo wrote down instructions for his particular technique of perspective in a manual entitled Perspectiva pictorum et architectorum, published in 1693.

As one of the earliest manuals on perspective for artists and architects, the book went through many editions and translations, from the original Latin and Italian into French, German, English, and, Chinese. The text was noted for the clarity and the precision of its explanations of perspective, making it accessible to architects and artists alike. A cherished volume in any library, Pozzo’s book has been called “the most elaborate and expensive architectural book ever produced ….”

The first English edition came in 1707 under the title Rules and Examples of Perspective Proper…, translated by the architect John James (ca. 1672-1746) and published by Benjamin Motte Sr. (died 1710). This edition has over one hundred folio engravings along with 208 historiated initials John Sturt (1658-1730). 161 subscribers are listed on an engraved plate bound into the final book, including many prominent artists, architects, printers, businessmen, and politicians.

Paul Landacre


Jake Zeitlin (1902-198) moved to Los Angeles in 1925 and in only two years, was operating one of the most popular bookstores in the city. Nicknamed At the Sign of the Grasshopper because of the symbol on the front, the shop became a local hangout for writers and artists, who browsed the shelves and enjoyed works of visual art in the shop’s small gallery.

One of the local artists Zeitlin introduced to the neighborhood was Paul Landacre (1893-1963) whose first one-man show was held at the bookstore in 1930 and received a favorable reviewed by Arthur Millier in Prints magazine. The Zeitlin’s and the Landacre’s became good friends and Paul’s wife Margaret even worked as a secretary for the bookshop.

When Zeitlin established his own publishing imprint, Primavera Press, Landacre was asked to illustrate many of the books. The first in 1933 was Marguerite Wilbur’s translation of Alexandre Dumas’ gold rush novel A Gil Blas in California. Pictured at the left is a recently acquired sheet of proofs for chapter headings in this book.

1933 was a busy year for Landacre, who submitted designs for the proposed Limited Editions publication of W.H. Hudson’s Green Mansions. Although some proof pages were printed by Grant Dahlstrom, the design was not selected and these chapter headings (top and bottom) were never published. Note, as Jake Wien below reminds us, that Landacre went on to illustrate three future editions for the Club.

For a bibliography of Primavera Press, see A Garland for Jake Zeitlin, on the occasion of his 65th birthday & the anniversary of his 40th year in the book trade (Los Angeles: Grant Dahlstrom & Saul Marks, 1967) Firestone Library (F) 0334.993.37

Beauty and Bravado in Japanese Woodblock Prints

Exhibition to open January 18, 2009

Kikugawa Eizan (1787-1867), Reclining couple reading a love letter, ca. 1804-1818. Color woodblock print. Gift of Gillett G. Griffin in honor of Dale Roylance. Graphic Arts Division

A reception and gallery tour will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 25, 2009, for the opening of “Beauty and Bravado in Japanese Woodblock Prints: Highlights from the Gillett G. Griffin Collection” in the Milberg Gallery of the Princeton University Library.

Yashima Gakutei (1786?-1868), Number Five: Dancers on Stage (from the series The Dance at Furuichi for the Hisakatayo Poetry Group), ca. 1822. Color woodblock print. Gift of Gillett G. Griffin in honor of Dale Roylance. Graphic Arts Division

The prints on display offer examples of changing fashions and evolving print technologies in Japan from the late 1600s to the mid-1800s. They are part of the collection donated by Gillett Griffin, curator emeritus of the Princeton University Graphic Arts Collection, in honor of Dale Roylance. The exhibition will be on view from January 18 to June 7, 2009.

In 1947, when Griffin was a student at Yale University’s School of Fine Arts, one of his professors invited a Japanese print dealer to visit. Gillett’s eye fell on a small black-and-white print, which he purchased for the enormous sum of $2.00. The dealer was impressed that such a young man would see the beauty in what turned out to be a print by Hishikawa Moronobu (ca. 1618-1694).

Four New York art sales that winter featured Japanese prints, three at Parke-Bernet and one at Gimbels Department Store (both Gimbels and Macy’s sold fine art in those days). Griffin made it to three of the four sales, and by the end of the year had a collection of almost seventy classic Japanese woodblock prints. “I really had no money,” he said. “But this was only a few years after Pearl Harbor and there was still a great deal of hostility and so, not many buyers.” Griffin continued to study and collect for more than sixty years.

A lecture on Japanese prints will be given by Julie Davis, Professor of Art History, University of Pennsylvania, on Sunday, May 3, 2009, at 3:00 p.m. in 101 McCormick Hall, followed by a reception in the Milberg Gallery. The Milberg Gallery is open to the public, free of charge, weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Wednesday evenings, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.; and weekends, noon to 5:00 p.m. The gallery is located on the second floor of Rare Books and Special Collections, Firestone Library, Princeton University, One Washington Road, Princeton, New Jersey. For information on visiting the campus, see: http://www.princeton.edu/main/visiting

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III, 1786-1865), Chapter Thirty-four: Wakana No Jô, from the series: Parody on the Fifty-four Chapters of the Tale of Genji (Genji gojûyojô), 1858, 9th month. Signed: Toyokuni ga. Publisher: Wakasaya Yoichi. Ôban tate-e diptych. Color woodblock print (nishiki-e).

College Book Art Association

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I will be away later this week at the first meeting of the College Book Art Association. http://www.collegebookart.
The CBAA supports and promotes academic book arts education by fostering the development of its practice, teaching, scholarship and criticism.

Despite summer floods and winter storms, book arts survive in Iowa City and the conference offers, among other things, a great opportunity to explore the Center for the Book, an interdisciplinary arts and research unit located within the University of Iowa Graduate College. The UICB integrates the art of book production with the study of the book in society by offering a curricula in book technologies and book history.

The first CBAA biennial is entitled: Art, Fact, and Artifact: the Book in Time and Place. More information is available at the conference website: http://uicb.grad.uiowa.edu/uicb-cbaa-conference/. Along with session programming, the conference agenda will include keynote speakers, exhibits, tours of facilities, open discussion time, and portfolio reviews.

My presentation is Between the Biblia Pauperum and the Graphic Novel: A Survey of Block Books, Plate Books, and Books from Stone. It is a work in progress. I post the powerpoint images for the talk here, in case you can’t make it to Iowa. http://libweb5.princeton.edu/visual_materials/

One Million Buddhist Incantations

The 46th imperial ruler of Japan was Empress Kōken (孝謙天皇, Kōken Tennō) who ruled from 749-758. The eccentric queen suffered from depression and on the advice of her cousin, Fujiwara Nakamaro, finally abdicated the throne. Friends introduced her to a young, handsome Buddhist monk named Dōkyō and under his care, she made a miraculous recovery.

Kōken became devoted to this monk, brought him into the royal family as a Master of Healing, and (depending on which history you read) had an intimate relationship with him. Her cousin objected to the monk and led a rebellion. Nakamaro was killed and Kōken restored herself to the throne, this time under her father’s name, as Empress Shōtoku (称徳天皇 Shōtoku-tennō) in 764.

As a sort of penitence, she had one million dharani (Buddhist incantations or prayer charms) printed and one million tiny wood pagodas built in which to store the prayers. Completed around 770, these slips of paper—now held in collections around the world—represent some of the earliest printed texts. They are known as the Hyakumanto Dharani or one million pagoda prayers, and Princeton University library hold two.

The text consists of four Sanskrit prayers of the Mukujoko-kyo, entitled Kompon, Jishinin, Sorin and Rokudo from the Darani-kyo. Both the Scheide Library and the graphic arts division hold sections of the “short” Sōrin darani. (WHS E.1.2.1 and GAX 2009- in process).

Royal printers created eight relief bronze printing plates with the prayers transliterated in Chinese characters. At least 125,000 slips of paper were printed from each plate in order to complete the run of 1,000,000 prayers. The pagodas were distributed to temples around Japan as thanksgiving for the suppression of the Rebellion of 764.

A detailed article by Mimi Hall Yiengpruksawan “One millionth of a Buddha: the Hyakumanto Dharani in the Scheide Library” from the Princeton University Library Chronicle 48 (1987): 224-38, can be read in full at: http://libweb5.princeton.edu/visualmaterials/pulc/pulcv48n_3.pdf

(*Note: this is a very large file)

Horrifying Stories from Chile


Guillermo Frommer (born 1953), Relatos espeluznantes [Horrifying Stories] (Santiago, Chile: [printed at the Taller Artes Visuales], 2006). 63 cm. The first volume of the series was published in 2003. This is number two. It is unclear whether there will be others. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2008-0025E

The Chilean artist Guillermo Frommer had an international education in printmaking. Both his parents were artists and he made his first prints under their direction in Chile. In the 1970s, he studied at the University of Ottawa, Canada, and then, received a degree from the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. His interest in lithography led to a residency at the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Although Tamarind is known primarily for its stone printing, Frommer also worked with xylography, engraving, and silkscreen.

When he returned to Chile in 1987, Frommer joined the Visual Arts Workshop (Taller Artes Visuales or TAV), a printing collective founded in 1974 by artists exempted from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Chile. Today, Frommer is a professor of printing in Santiago and continues to create his own work through the TAV.

New Technology of 1607

Vittorio Zonca (1568-1602), Nouo teatro di machine et edificij per varie et sicure operationi: co[n] le loro figure tagliate in rame é la dichiaratione, e dimostratione di ciascuna … (Padoua: Appresso Pietro Bertelli, 1607). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), Oversize 2004-1029Q

Today, new models of hardware are obsolute in a matter of years. It wasn’t until five years after his death that the first edition of Vittorio Zonca’s book on new machines was printed and published by Pietro Bertelli. Fourteen years later Bertelli’s son Francesco published a second edition using the same 42 copperplate engravings.

Three plates are signed: FV (i.e. monogram Francesco Valesio, born ca. 1560); Ben W sc (i.e. Benjamin Wright); and AH (or AHI or AI; monogram). The source for Zonca’s designs is believed to be a manuscript by the Sienese painter Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439-1501), which includes illustrations of various fifteenth-century machines.

A good article about such books: Alexander Keller, “Novo Teatro di Machine et Edificii,” Technology and Culture (1988), p. 285-87. Firestone Library (F) 9030.898.

Other volumes in Princeton libraries of the “Theater of Machines” genre:

Jacques Besson, Theatrum instrumentorum et machinarum Iacobi Bessoni Delphinatis, mathematici ingeniosissimi (Lugduni: Apud. Barth. Vincent. …, 1582). 60 engravings by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau (fl. 1549-1584) and others. Rare Books (Ex) Oversize 9008.175f

Gaspard Grollier de Servière (1677-1745), Recueil d’ouvrages curieux de mathematique et de mecanique, ou, Description du cabinet de Monsieur Grollier de Serviere (Lyon: Chez David Forey …, 1719). Engravings Étienne Joseph Daudet (1672-1730). Graphic Arts Collection (GA), 2007-3659N

Jacob Leupold (1674-1727), Theatrum machinarum… (Leipzig: Druckts Christoph Zunkel, 1724-1788). MICROFILM 03959

Agostino Ramelli (1531-ca. 1600), The Various and Ingenious Machines of Agostino Ramelli, translated from the Italian and French … by Martha Teach Gnudi (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976). Rare Books (Ex) Oversize Oversize TJ144 .R313q

Johann Vogel (17th/18th century), Die moderne Baukunst (Hamburg: B. Schiller, 1708). Marquand Library (SAX): Oversize TH144 .W63 1708q

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