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Not Photographs, They Are Parmelian Prints

Is photography over? This is the question posed by a sold-out symposium at SFMoMA later in the month.
. Those who could not get tickets are voicing their opinions online, filling the listservs and blogs. It reminded me of Ansel Adams (1902-1984) and his first portfolio: Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras (San Francisco: J.C. Moore, 1927).

When Adams met arts patron Albert Bender (1866-1941) and accepted Bender’s help to publish a portfolio of photographs, he also accepted the suggestion to call them “parmelian prints” (a made-up word). Bender felt the label of “photographic prints” would not allow them to be taken seriously as fine art.

Bender immediately committed the money to purchase ten portfolios (priced at fifty dollars each). Then, he got on the phone and sold fifty-six others before lunch. Adams had not even begun working on the prints. Ultimately, Adams produced a set of eighteen photographs: gelatin silver prints printed on Kodak Vitava Athena Grade T Parchment. No matter what they were called, the prints were a spectacular success.

The colophon and folders for the portfolio were printed at Grabhorn Press, in Oakland, California. Princeton University’s copy was donated by Isabel Shaw Slocum as part of the Myles Standish Slocume, Class of 1909, Grabhorn Press Collection. It is personally inscribed to Mr. and Mrs. Slocum from Adams. (WA) Oversize F868.S5 A42q.

How the cover of "Scribner's Magazine" was printed in 1896

Final chromolithograph

First stone

Scribner’s Magazine, launched in 1887, is credited with being the first magazine to include color illustrations. Here is a progressive set of proofs for the color cover.

Second stone

Third stone

Fourth stone

Fifth stone

Sixth stone

Seventh stone

Eighth stone

Ninth stone

Joachim von Sandrart's "Teutsche Academie"

Recently, we found an unbound group of etchings by Joachim von Sandrart. We now know they are plates from Christianus Rhodius (fl. 1680), Joachimi de Sandrart … Academia nobilissimæ artis pictoriæ. Sive Dē veris & genuinis hujusdem proprietatibus, theorematibus, secretis atque requisitis aliis … instructio fundamentalis (Noribergæ: Literis Christiani Sigismundi Frobergii, 1683).

The artist and art historian Joachim von Sandrart (1606-1688) trained under Sebastian Stoskopff in Frankfurt, learned printmaking under Aegidius Sadeler in Prague, and worked in Gerrit van Honthorst’s studio in Utrecht. Initially, Sandrart planned to be an engraver but found success as a painter. During his career, he associated with Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin; did drawings with Andrea Sacchi and Pietro Testa; and in 1653, was ennobled and made a member of the Palatinate-Neuburg Council.

From the mid 1660s, Sandrart was increasingly devoted to academia. He helped to establish the academy of art in Nuremberg (1662) and in Augsburg (1670). Sandrart became director of the Nuremberg academy.

In 1668, Sandrart began to write the Teutsche Academie der edlen Bau- Bild- und Mahlerey Künste, the first encyclopedic art history in German, with editorial help from the poet Sigmund von Birken. The work, published in three volumes between 1675 and 1680, was dedicated to the artists and art collectors of his day. The first two volumes include essays on architecture and sculpture, the theory of painting, biographies of ancient and modern artists, and descriptions of various art collections. Volume three added a translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Cartari’s mythographic handbook. For a more complete description and searchable full-text, see

In 1683, Christianus Rhodius translated part of Teutsche Academie and publish it along with a group of plates. This is the group now in graphic arts: approximately 66 etching with engraving, designed by Sandrart and printed by Philipp Kilian (1628-1693) and others.

Marquand Library has a first edition: L’Academia todesca della architectura, scultura & pittura: oder Teutsche Academie der edlen Bau- Bild- und Mahlerey Künste… (Nürnberg: J. von Sandrart; Frankfurt: M. Meriam, 1675-79). SAX Rare Books Oversize N7420 .S2f

Note, center left, Sandrart includes the image of an African European artist called Higiemonde. No biography is given.

Soviet Propaganda Posters

Graphic Arts GA2010.01183

Graphic Arts GA 2010.01186

In 2000, Oliver Langenberg, Class of 1935, donated nine Soviet propaganda posters from the 1930s to our collection. These huge, exceedingly rare posters document the national effort to inspire the population to embrace the collective spirit of the Communist regime in all aspects of industrial, agrarian, social, and political reform. The paper is very fragile but the condition remains very good. Here are a few examples. The description is quoted from the labels on the verso of each poster.

Graphic Arts GA2010.01185

Top left: “The Leninist young Communist league was and is the young reserve of the revolution” (Josef Stalin). Stalin is shown surrounded by a cross-section of Soviet youth with the profile of Lenin silhouetted above them. He is shown with a group of young people, one in naval uniform. Predominant colors are browns with a red flag showing the outline of Lenin and red lettering. Size: 24 1/2 x 27 3/8 inches.

Top right: “We are growing under the banner of Lenin and Stalin. Our park is to educate a new generation of workers that should be healthy and joyful and that could be able to raise the mightiness of the great country.” Soviet leaders understood the importance of early childhood education to perpetuate the goals of revolutionary Communism and Socialism. Here children of various ethnic births are shown in a day care center at their parents’ factory. The children are portrayed with portraits of Stalin and Lenin in the background. Color printing with red lettering. Size: 30 1/2 x 42 inches.

Bottom center: “In the tremendous growth of the national culture on a Socialist basis will find its expression in the victorious growth of Socialism in the USSR” (Molotov, chairman of the Peoples Commissariat). Early Communist history is summarized showing Karl Marx, the author of Das Capital (the most important Communist book), with Vladimir Lenin who led the revolution in 1917. Behind him is the storming of the Imperial Palace. The modern industrial state “CCCP” is shown rising around the image of Josef Stalin, who led the country in 1934.

“There are two classes, two cultures.” One half of the poster shows a soldier wearing a Nazi swastika armband burning books by Communist authors (church in background). The other half shows triumphant workers holding up books by Communist authors. Size: 36 x 23 1/2 inches.

"Un Eldorado aux enfers," A Hold-To-Light Photograph

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“Un Eldorado aux enfers,” number 22 from a set of Stereo-Diableries (Paris, 1870s?). Graphic Arts GA 2005.01266. See more at:

Engraved scenes that could be viewed through a set of lenses were a popular phenomenon in eighteenth century. The prints or vues d’optique were designed with an enhanced perspective so that, when viewed with a zograscope or in peep show boxes, the scene appeared to be three-dimensional. To further enhance the views, lights, stars, candles, or other bright parts of the image were pricked with a needle so that when the print was lit from the back, the picture turned into a nighttime scene. Colors were also painted on the back of the print, which were only visible with back lighting.

Once photography was invented, pricked or back-lit views continued to be made using photographs. Carlo Ponti (1823-1893), in particular, developed the megalethoscope for viewing pricked photographs with both front and back lighting so that the image appeared to shift from day to night. Stereoscopic views were invented by Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875) in 1840 but were not mass produced until the 1860s. The fanciest stereos, such as these, were pricked and had a second layer of tissue with added color. These elements were only visible when the stereo holder was pointed at the window or a candle. It is interesting here to look at the cards both with and without back lighting.

Graphic Arts also holds a complete set of La Biche au bois (The Doe in the Forest). Twelve stereoscopic views (Paris: Actualites de Theatre, after 1865). Graphic Arts 2005.01264-2005.01276

These “hold-to-light” stereoscopic photographs show scenes from the light opera: La biche au bois (5 acts, by the Cogniard Brothers), in Porte Saint-Martin, 1865. Katherine Singer Kovács commented on a performance of La Biche au bois in an article about the early filmmaker Georges Méliès:

An extremely successful feerie called La Biche au Bois contributed to this trend. In this work by the Cogniard brothers grotesque and comic forms were introduced on a large scale. Prior to this time (1845) characters in feeries had confined their travels to allegorical or mythological lands, in the heavens or beneath the seas. This all changed with La Biche. In addition to investigating these conventional locales, characters in La Biche au Bois explore new domains, such as the kingdom of bells, the kingdom of fish, and the kingdom of vegetables where they talk with fruits and vegetables of colossal dimensions. Each of these tableaux contains a grotesque ballet in which men dress as animals and the intention is comic.

Katherine Singer Kovács, “Georges Méliès and the ‘Féerie’,” Cinema Journal, 16, no. 1 (Autumn, 1976): 1-13.

See also: Jac Remise, Diableries: la vie quotidienne chez Satan à la fin du 19e siècle (Paris: Balland, 1978). Interlibrary loan for now.

Lascivious Old Men or Art Historians?

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Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), Connoisseurs, 1799. Hand-colored etching. GC112 Thomas Rowlandson Collection, Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895.

Four elderly men peer pruriently at a painting of a reclining Venus, with similar framed work around the room. Lascivious old men or art historians? While the designer of this print, Thomas Rowlandson, was poking fun at the connoisseurs, he was himself as interested in sexual imagery as the others.

During the final years of his life, Rowlandson privately printed at least ten stipple engraving depicting sexual encounters he called Anatomy Diversions. Long after Rowlandson’s death, John Camden Hotten (1832-1873) collected a set of these prints and published them in a bound edition accompanied with his own equally explicit poems. Only 100 copies were printed, entitled Pretty Little Games for Young Ladies and Gentlemen with Pictures of Good Old English Sports and Pastimes ([London: J.C. Hotten], 1845 [i.e. 1872]). Graphic Arts Collection (GA), Rowlandson 1845

See Henry Spencer Ashbee, Centuria librorum abscondorum, (Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature, v.2), p. [346]-354.

Here are a few examples:

The Hairy Prospect or the Devil in a Fright

Once on a time the Sire of evil,
In plainer English call’d the devil,
Some new experiment to try
At Chloe cast a roguish eye -t
But she who all his arts defied,
Pull’d up and shew’d her sexes pride :
A thing all shagg’d about with hair,
So much it made old Satan stare,
Who frightend at the grim display,
Takes to his heels and runs away.

The Curious Wanton

Miss Chloe in a wanton way
Her durgling would needs survey.
Before the glass displays her thighs
And at the sight with wonder cries,
“Is this the thing that day and night
Makes men fall out and madly fight ?
The source of sorrow and of joy
Which King and beggar both employ?
How grim it looks, yet enter in,
You’ll find a fund of sweets begin!”

Rural Felicity or Love in a Chaise

The Winds were hush’d, the evening clear,
The Prospect fair, no creature near,
When the fond couple in the chaise
Resolved each mutual wish to please.
The kneeling youth his vigour tries,
While o’er his back she lifts her thighs.
The trotting horse the bliss increases,
And all is shoving love and kisses.
What couple would not take the air
To taste such joys beyond compare.



The Kineograph (later called flip book) was patented in 1868 by John Barnes Linnett. Graphic Arts holds eleven modern and historical examples. For over 5,000 examples see

Fatima moving picture dance book: the Maxixe ([S.l.]: Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company, [1914]); 50 x 65 mm. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2007-0082S

The Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company (better known as L&M) produced a brand of Turkish cigarettes under the name Fatima. L&M marketed Fatimas through magazines, radio, television, and much more. In 1914, L&M released ten flipbooks under the theme of modern dance. “These moving picture booklets on the Dances of to-day … make it possible for all to know what the latest accepted dances are and how to dance them.” The flipbook shown here offers a Russian dance called the Maxixe, with images and step-by-step instructions.

Season’s greetings from Solomon & Gelman ([S.l. : s.n., 19—]). 51 x 82 mm. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2007-0081S

The cartooning team of Woody Gelman (1915-1978) and Ben Solomon (active 1930s-1950s), working for Max Fleischer Studios, created the first animated versions of Popeye (1930s) and Superman (1940s), and the original Bazooka Joe for Bazooka bubble gum (1953). In addition, they published a series of juvenile novelettes called Triple Nickel books because they sold for three nickels (15 cents).

One year, as a Christmastime treat, the team created this flip book showing two men wearing Santa Claus masks on the back of their heads. As the pages flip, the heads slowly turn and we see their real faces along with their names.

The Baskerville Virgil

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John Baskerville (1706-1775) was forty-four when he gave up engraving to establish his own printing business. He developed a beautiful typeface and new recipes for ink. To print his delicate new font, Baskerville needed a “kiss impression,” that is, a clean image on the paper made with the least amount of pressure possible from the plate. This required a smooth, uniform surface and so, Baskerville had James Whatman the Elder (1702-1759) refine his paper moulds and papermaking process to create such a paper. The first book to use Baskerville’s refined type and Whatman’s new wove paper was a book of Virgil’s poetry published in 1757.

Virgil, Publii Virgilii Maronis Bucolica, Georgica, et Aeneis (Birminghamiae: Typis Johannis Baskerville, 1757 [i.e. 1771]). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Baskerville 1771. Gift of Archibald S. Alexander, Class of 1928.

For whatever reason, part of the Virgil was printed with laid and part with these new wove papers. Click on the image of a page of notes above to see laid paper. Then, click on the text page below, from further into the volume, to see an example of wove paper.

As my predecessor Dale Roylance pointed out, Baskerville “created 54 of the most beautifully printed books in the English language.” In 1981, the graphic arts collection was the grateful recipient of 43 of Baskerville’s 54 books, given by Archibald S. Alexander, class of 1928. In total, Princeton now holds six copies of the first edition of the Baskerville Virgil, along with five of the second edition including two in the graphic arts Baskerville collection.

Note, Philip Gaskell’s bibliography of Baskerville books has been updated, at least concerning his Virgils, by Craig Kallendorf in his A Catalogue of the Junius Spencer Morgan Collection of Virgil in the Princeton University Library (New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, 2009) Classics Collection (Clas). Firestone Oversize Z8932 .K36 2009q.

See also Frank Ernest Pardoe, John Baskerville of Birmingham: letter-founder and printer (London: F. Muller, 1975) Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Z232.B2 P37 1975

A wonderful exhibition on the development of Whatman paper was mounted by Yale’s Center for British Art; see the press release

William Heath (1795-1840), The Man Wots Got the Whip Hand of ‘Em All, 1829. Hand-colored etching. Graphic Arts British Caricature.

This amazing etching was designed by William Heath (not to be confused with Henry Heath), one of the most underappreciated of the British caricaturists. According to the DNB, from 1825 to 1826, “Heath was in Scotland, writing and illustrating the first magazine in the world to be given over, predominantly, to caricatures: The Glasgow Looking Glass, later the Northern Looking Glass….” (Ex Oversize Item 3584659q)

When Heath returned to London in 1827, he began signing his prints with a drawing of the actor Liston in the role of Paul Pry from John Poole’s 1825 comedy. However the signature (and his engaging designs) attracted so many plagiarists that Heath was forced to abandon it in 1829.

Among the prints that attracted so much attention in the spring of 1829 were a series of satires on the question of Catholic emancipation featuring King George IV, Prime Minister Wellington, and Lords Eldon and Brougham. Titles included The Slap-Up Swell Wot Drives When Ever He Likes, The Guard Wot Looks After the Sovereign, The Man Wot Drives the Opposition, The Cad Wots Been Appointed Rat-Catcher to the Sovereign, and The Man Wot’s Been Made Foreman to the British, among others.

This print, The Man Wots Got the Whip Hand of ‘Em All, depicts a Stanhope Press with the legs of King George. It wears a cap of Liberty inscribed Free Press and holds a giant pen with fire-spitting serpents. Prime Minister Wellington’s departing legs and hat are seen at the top right, while the legs and buckled shoes of Lord Eldon are seen at the left. A print titled The Man Wot Drives the Sovereign (another by Heath) is about to be burned by the flames of the ‘free press.’ Note the printer’s devil with an ink ball bottom lower left.

The Graphic Arts division several dozen prints by Heath, along with his illustrated books. Here are a few others.

A Wellington Boot or the Head of the Army, 1827. Hand-colored etching. Graphic Arts British Caricature

I Was Lucky I Got Shelter At All, 1825-1830. Hand-colored etching. Graphic Arts British Caricature

Cribbage, 1825-1830. Hand-colored etching. Graphic Arts British Caricature

The Speech, 1828-1830. Hand-colored etching. Graphic Arts British Caricature

Book Jacket Papers

Alling & Cory Company, Book Jacket Papers (New York: Alling & Cory Co., [19—?]). [24] pages with 28 sample booklets. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2010- in process

Washington at Princeton

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Nathaniel Currier (1813-1888), Washington at Princeton January 3d 1777, 1846. Color lithograph. Gift of Edward L. Howe. Graphic Arts Portraits of George Washington Collection.

Inscribed: “At this important crisis, the soul of Washington rose superior to danger, seizing a standard he advanced uncovered before the columns and reigning his steed towards the emeny with his sword flashing in the rays of the rising sun, he waved on the troops behind him to the charge. Inspirited by his example the Militia sprang forward and delivered an effective fire which stopped the progress of the enemy.”

See also: Currier & Ives: a Catalogue Raisonne (Detroit: Galer Research, 1983). No. 5420. Graphic Arts Oversize GA NE2312.C8 A4 1983q

An Insane American

George Cruikshank (1792-1878), after a sketch by George Arnald (1763-1841), William [James] Norris: an Insane American. Rivetted Alive in Iron, & for Many Years Confined, in that State, by Chains 12 Inches Long to an Upright Massive Bar in a Cell in Bethlem. Published by William Hone, London, July 1815. Etching with aquatint. Gift of Richard W. Meirs, class of 1888. Graphic Arts GC022 Cruikshank Collection.

Founded in 1247, Bethlem was a priory for the sisters and brothers of the Order of the Star of Bethlehem. It was first used as a hospital in 1330 and first housed patients recorded as “lunatics” in 1403. During the 18th century, the asylum, now nicknamed Bedlam, was opened to public visitors, a penny each and free on the first Tuesday of the month. 96,000 visitors were recorded in 1814.

One such visitor that year was the philanthropist, Edward Wakefield (1774-1854). He was shocked to see James (reported as William) Norris (17??-1814), once an American seaman, now chained to his bed. Norris had been admitted in 1800 and so terrorized the small staff that in June 1804 he was permanently confined in an iron harness. Ten years later when Wakefield visited, Norris was still in the same spot.

Norris’s isolation and constraints were described at the time:

A stout iron ring was riveted round his neck, from which a short chain passed through a ring made to slide upwards and downwards on an upright massive iron bar, more than six feet high, inserted into the wall. Round his body a strong iron bar about 12 inches wide was riveted; on each side of the bar was a ring; which was fashioned to and enclosed each of his arms, pinioned them close to his sides.

Wakefield was joined by William Hone (1774-1854) and James Bevans (1780-1842) to campaign for change in the conditions for patients, not only in Bedlam but throughout England. Their work led to the formation of the Committee on Madhouses in April 1815. Cruikshank was hired to etch Norris’s portrait, including the inscription: Sketch from the Life in Bethlem, 7th June 1814, by G. Arnald, Esq., A.R.A. Etched by G. Cruikshank from the Original Drawing Exhibited to the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Madhouses, 1815.

Although Norris was removed from his shackles, he died within a few months. Bedlam was closed and the facility moved to a new home in Lambeth (today the home to the Imperial War Museum). For more on the history of the Bethlam hospital, see:

Humphreys' Papier-Mâché Bindings

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William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Sentiments and Similes of William Shakespeare [edited] by Henry Noel Humphreys. 2nd ed. (London: Longman, Brown, Green, 1857). Graphic Arts (GAX) 2007-0664N

In 1849, Henry Noel Humphreys (1810-1879) wrote a guide for illustrators on the art of illumination, which begins: “Considering the prevalent taste for the beautiful art of Illumination, it is somewhat extraordinary that the fine monuments of this branch of art … have either not been sought as models or, the very worst examples have been slavishly copied … The object of the present little volume is, therefore, to offer a few suggestions to modern students of the beautiful art of enriching books with painted ornaments.” (Marquand (SA) ND2920 .H92e)

Like many Victorians, Humphreys loved all things medieval and enriched even his simplest texts with bright chromolithography printed by Owen Jones (1809-1874) to recall hand-painted illuminated manuscripts. His bindings were elaborate reliefs molded in papier-mâché and painted black, imitating carved ebony. Here are a few examples from Princeton’s collections.

Henry Noel Humphreys (1810-1879), The Origin and Progress of the Art of Writing. 2nd ed. (London: Day and Son, 1855) Rare Books (ex) Z 105.H92 1855

The Good Shunammite [Parables of Our Lord] (London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1847). Robert Metzdorf Collection (ExMe) 5221.177

Henry Noel Humphreys (1810-1879), A Record of the Black Prince (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1849). Robert Metzdorf Collection (ExMe) ND 3410.H8. The cover is taken from one of the compartments of the Prince’s tomb at Canterbury with the coat of arms of the Black Prince in the center.

The Parables of Our Lord (New York: D. Appleton, 1847). Robert Metzdorf Collection (ExMe) ND 3355.G7 B5. This retelling of some New Testament stories had an edition was 2000 with half of them sent to New York City (including this one) where Appleton added a new title page. Each of the four corners has a wreath containing the head of an angel, a lion, an eagle, and an ox representing the four Gospel authors.

Illustrated Advertising

During the nineteenth century, American advertisers began to experiment with images and visual layouts to catch the attention of readers. Here are a few examples from Vanity Fair, 1860. Please note, some of these ads use racist material. Graphic Arts Hamilton Collection oversize 1933q

The American Magazine

The American Magazine (Boston: Rogers and Fowle, 1743-46). 3 v., [Vol. 1] (Sept. 1743)-v. 3 (Dec. 1746). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Hamilton 22. Note the palm tree on the left.

The American Magazine (later called The American Magazine and Historical Chronicle) was launched in September 1743. It was the third magazine in the American colonies and the first published in Boston. This issue from July 1745 is headed with a view of Boston, printed from a metal relief plate engraved by James Turner (1722-1759). It is one of only twenty-five examples of work we can clearly attribute to the Boston silversmith and engraver.

One of the publishing agents for The American Magazine was Benjamin Franklin, and through his recommendations, Turner received a number of commissions. In 1754, Turner moved his shop to Philadelphia, where he continued to engrave maps, bookplates, and for Franklin, the brass stamp of the Penn arms to be used as the masthead for Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette. Martha Fales also suggests “the Franklin engaged Turner to cut the first American political cartoon—the segmented snake, with each section labeled to represent the various colonies, and below the sections the motto “Join or Die.” For more, see Martha G. Fales, “James Turner, Silversmith-Engraver,” Prints of New England (Wercester: American Antiquarian Society, 1991): 1-20.

While The American Magazine included advertisements in the back, it was not until Turner went to work for Franklin that they started using images within the advertsiements to draw attention to them.

Cigar label art

A. D. Faber, Cigar Label Art (Watkins Glen, N.Y.: Century House, 1949). Limited edition of 500 copies. Graphic Arts GAX in process.

This unusual reference book, compiled by the collector A.D. Faber, was issued in a facsimile cigar box. In his introduction, Faber writes “My collection of cigarania and cigar label art started rather casually. It seemed at first that I was the only person interested in preserving such reminders of a bygone age. Lately, however, I have been urged to tell others something of what I have discovered. The result is given herein.”

“The thing that distinguishes Cigar Label Art (and also accounts for its higher price) is the inclusion of a number of original cigar box labels and edgings as tip-in’s. These examples of early lithographic art are already collector’s items, far more interesting and valuable than are the old trade cards now collected so avidly by many. Naturally in a book of this size, there are limitations on the number of items that can be shown. But I have kept my story down as much as possible, letting the old labels and top-brand dies speak mainly for themselves.”

A. D. Faber. Ithaca, N.Y., Sept. 15, 1949.

New Year's resolutions are coming

St. Michael’s Temperance Diploma (New York: printed by Major & Knapp, 186?). Chromolithograph. Graphic Arts GC179 broadside collection.

“I promise with the Divine Assistance, to Abstain from All Intoxicating Liquors, except in case of Sickness, and to Prevent by Advice and Example, Intemperance in Others.”

Whistler's Venice

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), The Doorway, 1879-1880. Etching and drypoint. First Venice Set. Graphic Arts GA 2005.02127

In 1879, the American expatriate James Abbott McNeill Whistler received a commission from the Fine Art Society of London to complete a set of twelve etchings in Venice. Whistler left for Italy in September but rather than a three month sketching trip, the visit lasted fourteen months. During this time Whistler etched, primarily in drypoint, around fifty copper plates.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Nocturne: Palaces, 1879-1886. Etching and drypoint. Second Venice Set. Gift of David McAlpin III, Class of 1920. Graphic Arts GA 2005.02168

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Garden, 1879-1886. Etching and drypoint. Second Venice Set. Gift of David McAlpin III, Class of 1920. Graphic Arts GA 2005.02162

Back in London, Whistler began to print from these plates, inking and wiping each impression personally. The “First Venice Set” (exhibited in December 1880 and published 1881) consists of twelve prints chosen from the fifty designs, each trimmed by Whistler to include his butterfly signature tab at the bottom. A “Second Venice Set,” consisting of twenty-six views, was released five years later. Whistler continued to print these plates until his death in 1903.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), San Biagio, 1879-1886. Etching and drypoint. Second Venice Set. Gift of David McAlpin III, Class of 1920. Graphic Arts GA 2005.02174

In 1975, a complete set of the Second Venice was generously donated to graphic arts by David Hunter McAlpin III (1897-1989), Class of 1920. McAlpin worked as a lawyer and investment banker but his true passion was for collecting. He amassed one of the earliest collections of photography in the United States (now the core of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and Princeton University collections). In addition, McAlpin gathered an impressive set of old master prints, now divided between the library and art museum collections.

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate

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George Cruikshank (1792-1878), Triumph of Dr. Jenner …, ca. 1807. Pencil drawing. Inscribed in ink: “Triumph of Dr. Jenner - the inventor of vaccination - & his friends. The [illegible] is on the top of the old College of Physicians on Warwick Lane - [illegible] suggested by old John Birch, surgeon of ‘St. Thomas’s’ and who was a strong anti-vaccinist.”

Early in the nineteenth century, the British public was divided as to the benefits of a small pox vaccine. This sketch by George Cruikshank refers to Edward Jenner (1749-1823) who was a strong advocate for vaccination and John Birch (1745?-1815) who was anti-vaccination. A group of figures with joined hands dance in a circle as a skeleton plays a stringed instrument. One of the figures on the left carries a coffin. On the back of the sheet, Cruikshank wrote some notes around a self-portrait. This drawing has not been matched to any published print.

The vaccination debate led to a number of satirical drawings. James Gillray (1757-1815) published an anti-vaccine print in 1802, depicting cows sprouting and leaping from vaccinated patients. In 1808, the year the government finally established a National Vaccine Institute, Isaac Cruikshank (1756-1811) published an engraving supporting Jenner entitled “Vaccination against Small Pox, or Mercenary & Merciless spreaders of Death and Devastation driven out of Society.”

George Cruikshank illustrated several articles on vaccine quackery in the humorous periodical The Scourge including “The Cow Pox Tragedy” and “The Examination of a Young Surgeon.” See, The Scourge, or, Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly (London: W. Jones, 1811-1814). Graphic Arts Collection (GA), Cruik 1811.2

Audubon's Double Elephant Copper Plates

According to the book The Double Elephant Folio, chapter G “The Copper Plates,” John James Audubon (1785-1851) had his engraver Robert Havell Jr. (1793-1878) prepare and ship the set of 365 copper plates for The Birds of America to the United States in 1839. Double elephant refers to the enormous plate size of 1016 x 678 mm. The plates survived a warehouse fire in 1842, about which Audubon wrote “They have indeed passed through the great fire of the 19th ulto but we are now engaged in trying to restore [them] to their wonted former existence; although a few of them will have to be reingraved for use, if ever the work is republished in its original size at all.”

After Audubon’s death, his wife took charge of the plates. An advertisement was published in 1870 offering 350 plates for sale, although no buyer was found. A 1908 article by Ruthven Deane indicates that the plates were eventually stored with William Dodge, Princeton class of 1879, who gave a number of them to the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution and Princeton University.

Happily, The Double Elephant also contains an inventory to the 78 plates that are currently known to be held in public or private collections (the rest were presumably sold for scrap). Princeton is fortunate to hold plate no.56 Red-Shouldered Hawk; no.101 Raven [above]; no.417 Maria’s, Three-toed, Phillips’s, Canadian, Harris’s, and Audubon’s Woodpeckers; no.422 Rough-legged Falcon (Rough-legged Hawk); and no.434 Little tyrant fly-catcher; Blue mountain warbler; Short-legged pewee; Small-headed fly-catcher; Bartram’s vireo; Rocky mountain fly-catcher [below].

Waldemar H. Fries, The Double Elephant Folio: the Story of Audubon’s Birds of America (Amherst, Massachusetts: Zenaida Publishing, c2006). Graphic Arts: Reference Collection (GARF), QL674.A953 F74 2006

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