Recently in Prints, Drawings, Paintings Category

William Sommer. "The apples, Bill, the apples!"

William Sommer (1867-1949) Untitled [Double portrait framed back to back. Girl in blue dress on one side, boy in green shirt on other], ca. 1934. Oil on board. Graphic Arts GC059 American Drawings and Paintings Collection

The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to hold seventeen works by the American painter and muralist William Sommer (1867-1949). Born in Detroit, Sommer worked as a commercial lithographer in Boston and New York City before traveling to Munich to study painting. He and his wife returned to the Midwest and settled outside Cleveland.


William Sommer (1867-1949) Untitled [Two Horses Grazing], 1933. Watercolor on paper. Graphic Arts GC059 American Drawings and Paintings Collection


William Sommer (1867-1949) Untitled [Still life with blue picture and apples], no date. Oil on board. Gift of Joseph M. Erdelac. Graphic Arts GC059 American Drawings and Paintings Collection

The Ohio poet Hart Crane (1899-1932) left home for New York City at seventeen but returned periodically to visit family and friends. He frequented Richard Laukhoff’s bookstore in Cleveland, as did the painter Bill Sommer. When they met, Crane was twenty-two and Sommer was fifty-four but they found in each other a kindred spirit.

Crane wrote, “I have run across an artist here whose work seems to carry the most astonishing marks of genius. A man of 55 or so—works in a lithograph factory—spent most of his life until the last seven years in the rut of conventional forms—liberated suddenly by sparks from Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso—I have taken it upon myself to send out some of his work for publication…”

He sent a group of Sommer’s paintings and drawings to New York City, where William Carlos Williams purchased one and two others were published in The Dial. Later, Crane wrote a poem dedicated to Sommer entitled “Sunday Morning Apples” (1927), referring I believe, to the painting above.

The leaves will fall again sometime and fill
‘The fleece of nature with those purposes
That are your rich and faithful strength of line.

But now there are challenges to spring
In that ripe nude with head
Into a realm of swords, her purple shadow
Bursting on the winter of the world
From whiteness that cries defiance to the snow.

A boy runs with a dog before the sun, straddling
Spontaneities that form their independent orbits,
Their own perennials of light
In the valley where you live
(called Brandywine).

I have seen the apples there that toss you secrets,-
Beloved apples of seasonable madness
That feed your inquiries with aerial wine.

Put them beside a pitcher with a knife,
And poise them full and ready for explosion-
The apples, Bill, the apples!

American Comic Strip Printing Plates and Drawings


Thanks to the generous donation of Charles Rose, Class of 1950, P77, P80, Graphic Arts now holds 1429 zinc and aluminum printing plates for comic strips syndicated to American newspapers from the 1920s to the 1950s. The plates originated with Abraham Meyers, whose American Melody Company or Meyers List (newspapers knew the firm as International Cartoons or Empire Features) was founded in 1898.

At first a distributor of sheet music, Meyers transitioned to comic strips in the early 20th century. One package of zinc printing plates was shipped to each newspaper at the beginning of the month and then returned. There was no sequence or simultaneous publishing of comics in city papers around the country.

In 1934, the firm passed to J.R. Kramer and then, to Kramer’s son-in-law Charles Rose, who bought out the company in 1967. He and his wife ran the business until the Meyers List was dissolved on March 20, 1977.


In addition to the plates, record books for the business, various teaching materials, and several albums of published strips, Princeton received 86 original pen and ink drawings for cartoons by Camillus Kessler, an active but little documented cartoonist. Kessler published comics in the New York Globe and Advertiser, New York Evening Graphic, New York World, and other papers from around 1914 into the 1940s.

Firestone Library holds two compilations of Kessler’s work: At the Bottom of the Ladder (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1926). NC1320 .K44 and Twenty-Five Years Ago (New York: Coward-McCann, 1931). NC1320 .K45.


Most recognizable of the printing plates are the 652 zinc two and four panel plates of Just Kids drawn by New York cartoonist August Daniel “Ad” Carter (1895-1957). The strip began in the summer of 1923 and ended with Carter’s death in 1957.

Also included are 52 zinc printing plates for Betty’s Beanery by Samuel Maxwell “Jerry” Iger (1903-1990), who had a partnership with Will Eisner (1917-2005); 32 single cell zinc printing plates for The Debunder by John Henry Fudray; and 15 single cell electrotype plates for Miss Information drawn by Barnet Cohen.


There are 52 two cell zinc plates for Hospital Quips by Rube Weiss, who is also known for Have Fun!, Josh Billings Sez, and Live ‘n Laff; 8 plates for Things That Never by Gary Bryne; and 7 for That Little Gamer by Link.

201 five panel zinc plates are for the comic strip Huckleberry Finn by Dwig and 200 aluminotype plates for the six panel strip called Squire Edgegate by Louis Richard. The longest plates are for seven panel comic strips. There are 100 for Bull Run by Carl Ed, who historians known as the creator of Harold Teen, and 110 for Raising the Family a comic strip from the 1920s and 1930s by an artist only known as Fisher.

We would be grateful for more information on these artists.


Special thanks to Mike Siravo and John Walako for helping to move these very heavy printing plates.

"Colophon" Editing Team

Don Freeman (1908-1978), [Colophon editing team], 1939. Gouache. Graphic Arts Collection, GC049 Pynson Printers



“This is how the Colophon came to be,” wrote John T. Winterich, “Sometime in 1928 … I got into correspondence Vrest Orton, then advertising manger of the Saturday Review of Literature, about some bibliographical crux … Orton said there ought to be some sort of periodical for book collectors in which problems of this sort could be threshed out, and I agreed heartily. He said he thought he might lay the idea before Bennett Cerf … and Bennett told Vrest that Elmer Adler would be a good man to see about an idea like that.”

“Alfred Stanford joined us, and then Fred Adams… . These are all the active editors there ever were over a ten-year period: Vrest, Elmer, Burton [Emmett], Al, Fred, myself.”

“Elmer was never created editor of the Colophon, either by election or flat; it seemed to be assumed that, as we who were associated in the enterprise were, so to speak, his every-Tuesday house guests (or rather shop guests), the Colophon was his show.”

The editorial team for the Colophon: A Book Collectors’ Quarterly, which ran from February 1930-February 1940, met each Tuesday in the offices of Pynson Printers in the New York Times Annex on 43rd Street. When Adler accepted a job at Princeton University and began closing his press in 1939, the artist Don Freeman (1908-1978) came by to document their meetings with a portrait painting. A linocut, dated August 8, 1939, was published in the Colophon in 1940 and later, in the festschrift Elmer Adler in the World of Books (1964). Freeman’s painting, done in gouache, is held in Graphic Arts.

Included in the painting (from the left) are Fred B. Adams Jr., Elmer Adler, Alfred Stanford, and John T. Winterich. The calendar in the painting is dated September 10. At the back of the print, looking around the corner, is Adler’s secretary/assistant Miss Greenberg.

Old Tom and Blue Ruin

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George Cruikshank (1792-1878), “The Gin Shop” in Scraps and Sketches, 1829. Hand colored etching. Graphic Arts Oversize Kane Room Cruik 1827.81q

Long before George Cruikshank signed a temperance pledge, he was satirizing the gin palaces of St. James Place. This is his earliest.

Images of death and dying are everywhere. Customers are standing inside a giant bear trap, waited on by a skeleton in the costume of a pretty woman (we can see her skull and the bones of her ankle and foot).

A woman is feeding gin to her baby, with the figure of death close behind her holding an hourglass. Spirits are held in coffins rather than casks: Old Tom is good gin; Blue Ruin is bad gin; Kill Devil is strong rum; and so on.

The inscription reads:
Now Oh dear, how shocking the thought is
They makes the gin from aquafortis:
They do it on purpose folks lives to shorten
And tickets it up at two-pence a quarter

Philosophy Run Mad or a Stupendous Monument of Human Wisdom

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Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827), Philosophy Run Mad or a Stupendous Monument of Human Wisdom, 1792. Etching on tinted sheet. Graphic Arts GA Rowlandson Collection.

In December of 1792, Thomas Rowlandson drew a frenetic caricature focused on the French Revolution and the declaration by the new government that “no institutions alien to the principles of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity were to be recognized.” That France should take these words, Liberté, égalité, fraternité (Liberty, equality, fraternity or brotherhood) struck Rowlandson as ironic after the bloody battles fought just weeks before this.

At the center of his print, instead of a beautiful young woman representing the Republic, Rowlandson places a shrieking hag, still in her nightgown. Her rocky seat of power is balanced on the ruined pillars of Humanity, Social Happiness, Tranquiliy [sic], Security, Domestic Peace, Laws, Urbanity, Order, and Religion.

On her left is Liberty, presented as a Jacobean, with his foot firmly planted on the law and a bloody head speared with his dagger. This is contrasted on the right with the aristocratic Equality, on his knees begging for his life. At the far right side, the word Humanity is placed by a mutilated man, whose bleeding heart is being raised by his killer.

Alex Noel Watson


Thanks to the generous donation of Henry Martin, Class of 1948, Graphic Arts holds a small group of original cartoons by the British artist Alex Noel Watson. Born in Airdrie, Lanarkshire in 1929, Watson worked for the Croydon Advertiser from 1965 to 1978 as a newspaper cartoonist, film reviewer, and feature writer. He went on to publish in many other prominent newspapers and magazines, including The Evening Standard, Spectator, Daily Telegraph, Punch, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and many others.

Here are a few examples.


A Collection of the Birds of Paradise

Robert Havell Jr. (1793-1878), A Collection of the Birds of Paradise ([London: R. Havell], no date but attributed to 1835). Engraved title page and 22 full-page hand colored aquatints. Signed on flyleaf: R[obert] Lionel Foster, 9 Terlingham G[ar]d[e]ns, Folkestone. Also owned by Major General Sir Rohan Delacombe. Purchased with funds from the Henry Matthews Zeiss Memorial Book Fund, the Graphic Arts collection, and the Princeton University Library. Graphic Arts GAX 2012- in process

Havell’s book was inspired by the ornithological study, Histoire naturelle des oiseaux de paradis et des rolliers (1801-1806), drawn by Jacques Barraband (1767?-1809) and stipple engraved by Louis Bouquet (1765-1814) for François Le Vaillant (1753-1824). Above left, v. 1, plate 3 and above right, v. 1, plate 11. Images (c) NYPL digital website

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Robert Havell’s shop, The Zoological Gallery, at 77 Oxford Street, London. Image reproduced in Francis Hobart Herrick, Audubon the Naturalist (1917).


The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired one of the rarest and most beautiful of Havell’s solo publications, A Collection of the Birds of Paradise (ca. 1835). While the volume was based on Le Vaillant’s earlier study, Havell redesigned several key artistic elements, beginning with the title page. In an act of inspired creativity, he selected elements from two individual pages that examined the plumage of the males and reconfigured the elongated and elaborate feathers into a compelling title cartouche.


Birds of Paradise was produced during the mid-1830s at Havell’s spacious Oxford Street shop, the Zoological Gallery, where he sold ornithological prints and drawings as well as the birds themselves, stuffed and posed, along with skins or feathers. Havell hunted these birds and other small animals outside London and then, prepared them for sale using his own techniques (Yale University Library holds a notebook where Havell recorded varieties of household recipes and taxidermist instructions).


All aspects of engraving, printing, coloring, bindings, and publishing were available at the Zoological Gallery, thanks to the enormous staff of young women Havell and his wife boarded, trained, and employed. One advertisement reads, “Miss Havell’s Boarding Establishment for a limited number of Young Ladies, in which the comfort and happiness of a home are combined with every instruction suitable to the capacity and age of the Pupils, who are received by the Month or Quarter. Terms may be had at the Zoological Gallery.”


Havell and Audubon were both members of the Zoological Society (instituted 1825) and well acquainted with all the illustrated natural histories, yet it may have been at Audubon’s suggestion that Havell took on the engraving of Le Vaillant’s study. As a young man, Audubon studied briefly in Paris when the original volumes were being released and he owned many of Le Vaillant’s luxurious color plate books in his own library (Audubon’s copy of Histoire naturelle des oiseaux d’Afrique (1799-1808) is now in Cornell University’s library).


Most recently this book belonged to Major General Sir Rohan Delacombe, KCMC, KBE, CB, DSO, KSt (25 October 1906 - 10 November 1991) who was a British military officer. He was the last British Governor of Victoria, Australia. Sir Rohan was appointed as Governor of Victoria in 1963 and his term ended in 1974. Upon his death in 1991, this particular item was part of his library in Australia and was left to his daughter.

So you want to meddle with the press!


Honoré Daumier (1808-1879), Ah! tu veux te frotter à la presse!! (Ah! So you want to meddle with the press!), 3 octobre 1833. Lithograph. Published in La Caricature, no. 152. GC003 Honoré Daumier Collection

Daumier’s caricature of Louis-Philippe I (1773-1850) is signed lower left “ Becquet,rue Furstemberg N°6” (the lithographer) and lower right “chez Aubert, galerie véro dodat.” This is Charles Philipon’s brother-in-law Gabriel Aubert, who was responsible for the distribution and sale of the print. Individuals who could not afford either the print or a magazine subscription, would gather in front of Galerie Véro-Dodat where Daumier’s prints were hung in the window as soon as they were dry.

The Daumier Register,, describes the scene as a caricature of King Louis-Philippe, “being pressurized even by the conservative journalists. It seems that also the right-wing paper Le National had to fear intensified censorship. The risk of a similarly vehement reaction like under Charles X in 1830, which was leading towards revolution, increased constantly. He lost his citizen’s umbrella in the process. The entire print is an allusion to the power of the press.”

“The man handling the press is not necessarily a printer, but most likely one of the ‘news-boys’ who were the real masters of the street at this time. They yelled out the titles of their papers, which were usually appeals of revolt. The police arrested them, but while loudly protesting against the oppression of which they were a victim, these ‘heralds of upheaval’ allowed themselves to be taken without any resistance, knowing quite well that the courts would acquit them. The continuing campaign of abuse against the King, the scarcely veiled incitements to murder, the poverty of a large proportion of the people and the hard apprenticeship of democracy created a strange volatile state of mind.”

Fishing on a Holiday Weekend


Attributed to John L. Petrie, Untitled [Trout on Rock, Beside Fishing Pole], 1890s. Oil on canvas. GC164 Kienbusch Angling Collection. Gift of Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch, Class of 1906.

We believe this painting was a study for William C. Harris’s The Fishes of North America that are Caught on Hook and Line, which was announced with much anticipation by The New York Times on October 8, 1893.


“This work, published in quarters, contains plates of fish, colored as in life and of handsome size, with appropriate text. The excellence of these plates is at once discernible. Mr. Harris seems to have been determined to select of the finest specimens of fish he could find, and, being an angler of distinction, he has caught all the fish and used them as models for his illustrations.”

” …Instantly, before the evanescent hues of the fish had faded, Mr. Harris, with his artist, recorded all the colors. Lovers of angling who study natural history will find in this publication not only amusement but instruction.”

“It can be readily understood that a work of this character, where so much depends on illustrations, is one that presents particular difficulties. As there are to be eighty colored plates it can be seen how ambitious is the work and how costly must be its manufacture. In some respects Mr. Harris’s work may take rank with Audubon’s on birds. He has been fortunate in interesting many representative anglers all over the country, and it is believed that to-day the success of the venture is assured.”

Harris’s book was published in parts from 1895 to 1898 with chromolithographic plates by John L. Petrie, who accompanied him throughout the United States. The author writes in his preface, “Mr. John L. Petrie, the artist, has been my steadfast companion during this protracted but pleasant task. He has painted the portraits of each fish represented … from living specimens caught on my own rod, with the exception of the Pacific Salmons, which were taken alive in traps.”

A Devil or Satyr by William Blake

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William Blake (1757-1827), A Squatted Devil with Young Horns, ca. 1810. Pencil on paper. Butlin no. 596. Robert H. Taylor art collection.

This pencil drawing by William Blake was never published and in fact, it hasn’t yet been identified as a study for any particular book or print or painting. Blake wrote about many devils but the word satyr does not appear in any of Blake’s poetry (which we can check thanks to the searchable Blake archive at the University of Virginia).

However, Blake did engrave two satyrs in the print he made after William Hogarth’s painting Beggar’s Opera. In Hogarth’s design the stage is framed with a crouching satyr on either side and according to the Tate records, the original frame also had two satyrs carved into the sides.

Princeton’s drawing is mentioned twice in Blake literature. Butlin writes, “The title is taken from Rossetti, who continues, ‘The face is somewhat of the Satyr type. Ordinarily good.’ Certainly, a satyr rather than a devil seems to be intended in this fairly highly finished figure. The background is slightly indicated to suggest rocks.” (Martin Butlin, The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake (EX N6797.B57B87Q)).

William Rossetti is quoted from p. 251 in Alexander Gilchrist (1828-1861), Life of William Blake, “Pictor ignotus”. With selections from his poems and other writings … (London, Cambridge: Macmillan and Co., 1863). Rare Books (Ex) 3631.3.692.

Benfolly by Janice Biala


Janice Biala (1904-2000), Benfolly, no date [1930s]. Oil on canvas.
Museum object collection GA 2006.02658

In 1913, Schenehaia Tworkovska (1903-2000) and her older brother Yakov (1900-1982) immigrated to the United States from Biala, Poland. She took the name Janice, he became Jack, and they anglicized the family name to Tworkov. Each worked to pay for painting classes at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. To avoid the stigma of being a female artist, Janice painted under the name of her hometown, Biala. Before long, both Janice and Jack were American citizens.

Janice traveled to Paris in 1930 to continue her education in art and there, she met and moved in with the English writer Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939). Ford was the founder of The Transatlantic Review, where he published James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and other friends. Describing their relationship, Janice wrote, “He found a little handful of dust and turned it into a human being.”

Through Ford, she met the poet Allen Tate (1899-1979) and Tate’s wife Caroline Gordon (1895-1981), who worked as Ford’s secretary. The Tates invited Ford and Biala to spend time at their antebellum home on the Cumberland river near Clarksville, Tennessee. Purchased with the help of Tate’s brother Ben, the house was dubbed Ben’s Folly or Benfolly. In the summers it was filled with visiting writers and artists, as seen in Biala’s painting (purchased by Princeton from the Tates’ daughter).

“All of Biala’s paintings seem touched by a tough ingenuousness — never sentimental or naive, but slightly nostalgic in their playful intimacy. Suffusing them is the outlook of a painter who has found what she needs and knows what she wants to do. The results glow with a wondrous candor.” John Goodrich, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” New York Sun, December 13, 2007

See also: Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939), Provence: from Minstrels to the Machine; illustrations by Biala (Philadelphia; London: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1935). Gift of Edward Naumburg. (Ex) 2004-1848N

Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939), Great Trade Route; with drawings by Biala (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1937). (Ex) PR6011.O53 Z99036

Playing Pope Joan

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Charles Williams (active 1797-1830), Pope Joan, 1805. Hand colored etching. Graphic Arts Collection British Caricature GA2012- in process.

During the War of the Third Coalition (1803 to 1806), Great Britain was under constant threat of an invasion by Napoleon I (1769-1821). This is reflected in the game of Pope Joan print drawn by Charles Williams in November 1805.

One of the players asks, “And do you really think, Major, that Bonaparte means to attempt an Invasion? - pray what is your opinion of him.” To which the answer is given, “A knave Ma’am, and that’s a stop.”


Pope Joan was a popular card game played in 18th- and 19th-century England. The staking board used in the game can be seen in this print, with its eight compartments labeled Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Game, Pope (the 9 of diamonds), Matrimony (the king and queen of trump) and Intrigue (the queen and jack of trump). The aim of the game is to run out of cards before anyone else does. For the complete rules, see

A Royal Card Game

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Isaac Cruikshank (1764-1811), The Family Party or Prince Bladduds Man Traps!!
May 11, 1799. Etching with hand coloring. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2012- in process

AN00091651_001_l.jpg(c) British Museum

A card game is being played at the home of King George IV (1762-1830), Prince of Wales, who is standing with his hand on the breast of Honor Dutton (born Gubbins, married Ralph Dutton). His younger brother Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany (1763-1827), is sitting with his back to us.

Cruikshank drew at least six caricatures of the two brothers and Honor Dutton. What’s interesting about this one is that a very similar print, titled The Snug Party’s Exit. Or the Farewell to Bath was published on May 6, 1799 by J. Brown of Bath (probably a pseudonym). In less than a week, Cruikshank completed a pirated copy, with the image laterally reversed. This was published in London by Samuel William Fores (1761-1838), a dealer who specialized in playing cards and popular prints.

The print’s title refers to Prince Bladud, a legendary king, who was banished from Athens when he contracted leprosy. He was miraculously healed by the waters at Bath and went on to founded a city at that site (at least that’s one story).



Unidentified artist, after John Hamilton Mortimer (1740-1779), Untitled [Falstaff], 20th century. Pen and ink on paper. Graphic Arts collection GC169 European Drawings and Paintings Collection

falstaff3.jpgJohn Hamilton Mortimer, “Falstaff” in A Series of Twelve Heads ([London]: Palser, 1812). (Ex) Oversize 3925.8245f

This unidentified drawing has been in the collection for many years, possibly the work of a student or staff member. It is copied after John Mortimer’s original 1776 pastel or his etching from a series depicting Shakespearean characters, republished by Palser in the nineteenth century.

The etching is inscribed with two lines from the play:
There’s a merry heart! Good Master Silence,
I’ll give a health for that anon.
(Henry IV, pt. 2, act V, scene [3]) and publication line: “Publish’d March 15, 1776 by J. Mortimer, Norfolk Street, Strand.”

The character Silence sings:
A cup of wine that’s brisk and fine,
And drink unto thee, leman mine,
And a merry heart lives long-a.
John Hamilton Mortimer, Falstaff, 1775-76. Pastel. Source unknown.

Marriot the Great Eater

gormet1.jpgMarriot the Great Eater, ca. 1840. Engraving. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895.
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Around 1652, an untitled satirical print was published by an anonymous artist depicting “the great Eater, Marriot the Lawyer.” The woodcut contains four lines of text:
Here to your view’s presented the great Eater, / Marriot the Lawyer, Grayes-Innes Cormorant; / Who for his Gutt is become a meer Cheater: / Those that well feed him, Councell shall not want.

The figure has been identified as John (or William) Marriot, a lawyer who gained a reputation for the food he consumed.

At least five pamphlets and two woodcuts were published in the 1650s referring to John Marriot, the Great Eater including The Great Eater of Grayes Inn. His life by G. F. (1652); The English Mountebank (1652); A Letter to Mr. Marriot, Wherein His Name is Redeemed from the Detraction of G. F. (1652); The Great Eater of Greys Inn, or the Life of Mr. Marriot, the Cormorant (1652); and The Trappan Trapl, or the Relation of a Cunning Knave named John Marriot (1657).

The complete title of the second offers a colorful description of the man:
The English mountebank: or, a physical dispensatory, wherein is prescribed, many strange and excellent receits of Mr Marriot,: the great eater of Grays-Inn: with the manner how he makes his cordial broaths, pills, purgatious [sic], julips, and vomits, to keep his body in temper, and free from surfeits. With sundry directions, 1 How to make his cordial broath. 2 His pills to appease hunger. 3 His strange purgation; never before practised by any doctor in England. 4 The manner and reason, why he swallows bullets & stones. 5 How he orders his bak’d meat, or rare dish on Sundays. 6 How to make his new fashion fish-broath. 7 How to make his sallet, for cooling of the bloud. 8 How to make his new dish, called a frigazee: the operation whereof, expells all sadness and melancholy.

In the nineteenth century, an engraving was made reproducing the earlier woodcut and it is this intaglio print that is held in the graphic arts collection.


spektrum5.jpgHAP Grieshaber
spektrum4.jpgGeorges Lemoine

Spektrum: internationale Vierteljahresschrift für Dichtung und Originalgrafik Zürich. Edited by Sven Knebel (Zürich: S. Knebel, 1958-1992). Jahrg.1 (1958/1959)-Jahrg.33/34 (1991/1992). Missing issues 1958-59. Graphic Arts GAX 2012- in process

spektrum3.jpgJuana Faure
spektrum2.jpgGisela Sternstein-Feucht
spektrum1.jpgViktor Hermann

Beginning in 1958, the Swiss artist Sven Knebel (born 1927) established a publishing firm to promote the work of young writers and artists. Felix Rellstab joined him as an editor. The oversize format of their quarterly magazine Spectrum accommodated large scale original woodcuts, linocuts, and screen prints in every issue.

Authors include Günter Eich, Max Frisch, Ludwig Hohl, Alfred Andersch, Rainer Brambach, Walter Gross, and many others. One of artist Knebel frequently published was the German printmaker Helmut Andreas Paul (HAP) Grieshaber (1909-1981), who cut large, dramatic images on course wood blocks. Bert Schmidmeister, Samuel Lier, Viktor Hermann, and Juana Faure are among the many other artists given a platform at Spektrum.

Anti-Abolitionist Caricature


George Cruikshank (1792-1878), The New Union-Club, Being a Representation of What Took Place at a Celebrated Dinner Given by a Celebrated Society - vide Mr. M-r-t’s pamphlet, “More thoughts,” &c.&c. … (London: G. Humphrey, 1819). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize Cruik 1828.28e

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The first joint Parliament of England and Ireland was held in 1801, prompting a caricature by James Gillray (1756-1815) of the English and the Irish meeting in a drunken debauch at the Union Club [left]. Eighteen years later, Cruikshank revived the design but this time it is the English and the African citizens who are seen fraternizing in vulgar and outrageous ways.

Cruikshank’s print satirizes the British abolitionist movement, in particular its leader William Wilberforce (1759-1833) seen standing on the far left. He is also seen naked in the painting on the back wall, entitled Apotheosis of W-W.

The slave trade from Africa to the British colonies was outlawed in 1807 and from other foreign countries in 1811. However, slave ships continued to sail from the West Indies. In July of 1819, the British Parliament passed two acts to addressed this: An Act for the More Speedy Trail of Offences committed in distant Parts upon the Seas, to the Trail of Offences committed in Africa against the Laws abolishing the Slave Trade [12 July 1819] and an Act for establishing a Registry of Colonial Slaves in Great Britain, and for making further Provision with respect to the removal of Slaves from British Colonies [12 July 1819]. Cruikshank finished and published this caricature one week later.

The print satirizes the British abolitionists from the standpoint of the West Indian planters. His title mentions two pamphlets published by the leader of the West India Interest in Parliament Joseph Marryat (1757-1824), which are Thoughts on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, and Civilization of Africa (1816) and More Thoughts Still on the State of the West India Colonies (1818) (available full-text online).


Twin sisters Maude Alice and Genevieve Almeda Cowles

cowles3.jpg Maude Alice Cowles (1871-1905), Untitled, no date [ca. 1897?]. Pencil and ink wash on board. Illustration for Scribner’s Magazine. Graphic Arts GA 2006.02625
cowles2.jpg Genevieve Almeda Cowles (born 1871), Untitled, no date [ca. 1897?]. Pencil and ink wash on board. Illustration for Scribner’s Magazine. Graphic Arts GA 2006.02624
cowles4.jpg Genevieve Almeda Cowles (born 1871), Untitled, no date [ca. 1897?]. Pencil and ink wash on board. Illustration for Scribner’s Magazine. Graphic Arts GA 2006.02623

The twin Cowles sisters trained together as visual artists and worked on the same projects, whether magazine illustration, mural painting, or stain glass window design. They were both early members of the Art Workers’ Club for Women, an organization of female artists and female artists’ models. Founded in 1898 by Helen Sargent (later Mrs. Ripley Hitchcock), the Club boasted more than 150 members in the first few years.

The Art Workers’ clubhouse was in a brownstone at 224 West 58th Street, around the corner from The Art Students’ League. Along with meeting rooms, there was a restaurant and boarding house where young women could stay temporarily. Later, the Club established a booking agency for the professional models and offered a collection of costumes that could borrow for work.

As members, the Cowles sisters were allowed to hire models with no booking fee. A small number of male artists paid a fee of $2 per year to be honorary members, so that they could have access to a trained pool of professional models. To read more, see David Slater, “The Fount of Inspiration: Minnie Clark, the Art Workers’ Club for Women, and Performances of American Girlhood,” Winterthur Portfolio 39, No. 4 (Winter 2004), pp. 229-258.

The Cowles sisters were also responsible for the beautiful windows in Grace Church’s Honor Room at 802 Broadway, New York City. Here are a few images:


John White Alexander


Benoni Irwin (1840-1896), John W. Alexander President of the Fellowcraft Club, 1891. Oil on canvas. Graphic Arts GA 2006.02630

Written in brown paint on the verso of this canvas is the identification, “Portrait of John W. Alexander, President of The Fellowcraft Club, painted for and presented to the Club by Benoni Irwin April 1891.” John White Alexander (1856-1915) was an American portrait painter who began his career as an apprentice for Harper’s Weekly, before moving to Europe to paint.

Although his primary residence after 1881 was New York City, he continued to travel and exhibit in London, Paris, and Rome. Portrait painting became a specialty and the Princeton University Art Museum holds seven painting by Alexander, including a portrait of our former President James McCosh (1811-1894).

Alexander was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, President of the National Society of Mural Painters, and as this painting attests, President of The Fellowcraft Club. This last organization, founded in 1888, was a monthly eating club for writers and illustrators, “two hundred or more men, most of the active ones on the daily papers of this city.” The first president was Richard Watson Gilder, editor of Century Magazine and Alexander was the second.


Unknown artist, Francesca Alexander and her mother, no date. Oil on board. Graphic Arts GA 2006.02618

The graphic arts collection holds another painting with a pencil inscription on the verso: This painting by John Alexander depicts his daughter Francesca and her mother. Francesca was also a painter — MYH had a few of her paintings in watercolor which went to the Princeton Library.” However, John White Alexander married Elizabeth Alexander (no relation) and they had one child, James Waddell Alexander II, who became a mathematician.

The note refers to Esther Frances Alexander (1837-1917) who was known as Fanny and later Francesca. She was an artist and the graphic arts collection includes four of her sketches including a study for a St. Francis; a sketch of St. Christopher; one of Narcissus; and a cityscape of Rome. Francesca was the daughter of the artist Francis Alexander and the authoress Lucia Gray Swett; no relation to John White Alexander. It is hard to say who the actual artist was or if this image is a lifetime portrait of Francesca.

cruikshank aphrodite2.jpg

Aphrodite (or Venus to the Romans) is thought to have been born near Paphos, on the island of Cyprus. According to Greek myth, Uranus and Gaia had a son named Cronus. The parents fought and Gaia created a stone sickle, which she gave to Cronus to attack his father. Cronus castrated Uranus and threw his father’s testicles into the sea. They caused the sea to foam and out of that white foam rose Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

This is the story George Cruikshank chose to paint in his late sixties or early seventies. Two versions have been identified, one in the Graphic Arts collection at Princeton University and the other at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Neither has a date on the work itself but the Princeton records assign the work to the year 1860. This may once have been on the verso of the board on which it is painted but unfortunately, the painting has been glued to another wooden support, so this information cannot be checked.

cruikshank aphrodite1.jpgGeorge Cruikshank ( 1792-1878), The Birth of Aphrodite, 1860. Oil on panel, with heavy varnishing. Signed: ‘Geo. Cruikshank 1792-1878’. 46 x 61 cm. GC022 Cruikshank collection.
2007BM7724_jpg_l.jpg George Cruikshank (1792-1878), Venus Rising from the Froth of the Sea, pre-1884. Oil on canvas. 30.5 x 25.1 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, AL9570

Cruikshank owned this stipple engraving by Thomas Hollis, which may have served, in a small part, as inspiration for his own design.


Thomas Hollis (1818-1843) after a painting by Richard Westall (1765-1836), The Boar that Killed Adonis Brought to Venus, 1833-43. Stipple engraving. British Museum

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