S.J. Woolf: Drawn from Life

woolf15.jpgSamuel Johnson Woolf (1880-1948), Self-portrait, 1938. Charcoal and white chalk on paper. Graphic Arts collection 2006-02518

In December of 1949, The New York Times ran an article announcing a new exhibition at the Princeton University Library entitled “Drawn From Life: Original Portraits by S.J. Woolf.” Woolf had died of Lou Gehrig’s disease the year before and the show was undoubtedly organized by Elmer Adler (1884-1962), who also exhibited Woolf’s portraits in 1930 at his Pynson Printer’s gallery, located in the New York Times building.

“It represents three decades of Woolf’s activities in catching the celebrities of this generation in the mirror contrived by his pencil and his pen,” writes H. I. Brock. “The subjects are men and women famous in many walks of life…. And it is not less interesting because most of the portraits … were made originally for the [New York] Times .”

Brock’s only complaint was that Woolf’s most famous portrait, that of George Bernard Shaw, was not included. Days later, in a letter to the editor, Howard C. Rice, Jr. of Princeton’s Department of Rare Books & Special Collections reported that Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Colen of Holicong, PA had read the story and loaned the drawing, which they owned, to the University exhibition.

After the close of the exhibition, all the charcoal drawings were returned to Woolf’s widow. Now, over sixty years later, thanks to the generous gift of Sue Kessler Feld and Stuart P. Feld, Class of 1957, we again have a substantial collection of Woolf’s portraits. Here is a small selection.

Aristide Briand (1862-1932). Served eleven terms as Prime Minister of France. Drawing published on the front page of The New York Times, May 25, 1930.

woolf1.jpgSamuel John Gurney Hoare, 1st Viscount Templewood (1880-1959). British Foreign Minister; authored the Hoare-Laval Pact with French Prime Minister Pierre Laval. Published in Newsweek Aug. 31, 1935
woolf5.jpg Helen Rogers (Mrs. Ogden Mills) Reid, (1882-1970). President of The New York Herald Tribune; Herald Tribune Corporation; and Chairman of the Board. Published in Newsweek Nov. 23, 1935.

woolf10.jpgEdouard Herriot (1872-1957). French politician, served three times as Prime Minister and President of the Chamber of Deputies. Published in NY Herald Tribune, Feb. 17, 1929.
woolf3.jpgHugh Gibson (1880-1948). American diplomat, active in Poland 1919-1924. Published in NYT Magazine, June 21, 1931.

woolf8.jpgDr. Graeme M. Hammond (1858-1944). Neurologist and professor of nervous diseases at NYU Medical School. Published in NYT Magazine Mar. 13, 1938.
woolf9.jpg Margaret Grace Bondfield (1863-1935). English Labor politician, the first woman Cabinet Minister and one of the first three female Labor MPs. Published in NYT Magazine July 28, 1929.
woolf6.jpgLeonor Fresnel Loree (1858-1940). President of the Delaware & Hudson Railroad, among others. Chairmain of the Rutgers Board of Trustees Committee on New Jersey College for Women (now Douglass College). Published in Newsweek Sept. 14, 1935.
woolf12.jpgEvangeline Cory Booth (1865-1950). Founder of the British Salvation Army and later General of the United States Salvation Army. Raised over $12,000 for relief work after SF earthquake. Published in Newsweek Nov. 10, 1934.

woolf7.jpg Maude Royden (1876-1956). England’s most famous woman preacher and suffragist; first woman to receive a Doctor of Divinity. Published in Newsweek, Jan. 23, 1937.
woolf4.jpg J. Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937). British politician who was the first Labor Prime Minister. Published in NY Herald Tribune Magazine, Sept. 1, 1929.