B.J.O. Nordfeldt

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Bror Julius Olsson Nordfeldt (1878-1955), The New York Public Library, [between 1907 and 1911]. Drypoint. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2007.02213

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There was a request today for a print by Bror Julius Olsson Nordfeldt (1878-1955). We found only one. While there is no date on this drypoint depicting the New York Public Library at 42nd street, we know that the artist must have scratched the copper plate before 1911 because that was when the marble lions, Patience and Fortitude, were added to the entrance outside this Beaux-Arts building. The cornerstone for the building was laid in May 1902 but Nordfeldt didn’t get to New York to take some classes at the Art Students League until 1907, therefore the print was made some time between 1907 and 1911.

His biography by Alisha Patrick adds the curious note that in 1908, the Swedish artist returned to his native country “to illustrate for Harper’s Magazine.” In addition, the Archives of American Art holds clippings of magazine illustrations dated 1910. While we thought we only had this one print by Nordfeldt, we probably have many others if we can one day identify the work he did for Harper’s and other magazines of that period. Let us know if you see any.

Galway Kinnell, Class of 1948

“A poem which did not win any prize so far as the writer knows, but which ought to be entered in any future competitions, is Galway M. Kinnell’s remarkable ‘Conversation at Tea at Twenty,’” wrote Carlos H. Baker, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature in the Daily Princetonian, November 14, 1947. He continued,

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Galway Kinnell (1927-2014), Untitled, no date. Charcoal on paper. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2006.02602

“—a poem which combines a high specific gravity with a deep ironic risibility, and unlike most of the other poems in this issue is about something pretty important: one man’s declaration of war against the world until the time, and he, are ripe enough to write the necessary peace. Mr. Kinnell is not afraid to leave his verse rough at the edges; but a strong-thewed giant is emergent from that rock, and there may come a time when Kinnell can set him free—with courage, patience, and determination.”

Four weeks later, The Daily Princetonian announced “Kinnell ’48 Scores as Poet. The National Poetry Association has announced that “Summer,” a poem written by Galway M. Kinnell ’48 has been selected for publication in the Annual Anthology of College Poetry. The book is composed of the best poems written by college students throughout the country.”

Galway Kinnell, class of 1948, died of Leukemia on Tuesday, October 27, 2015. For an extended obituary see: “Galway Kinnell, Poet Who Followed His Own Path, Dies at 87″ by Daniel Lewis, New York Times, October 29, 2014.

Conversation at Tea at Twenty

I have been waiting here too long.
Tea, while the souls I love, wan
Troilus, old King
Lear, fool-guided through the world,
The noble
Prince, and Bergerac, O more to tell
Too endless–Gib, Chris, and all—
Hold hell’s
Hot breath back, and muster me to

But now I must nurse my courage in
A sling,
For all the ancient skies are ripening:
Soon golden fruit will form like
Summer clouds,
And ask for poet-men to sing like lords
Of giant gods that pace
The mountain-tops. There will I write
My peace.


John Sherwood Anderson

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John Sherwood Anderson, Self Portrait, 1938. Oil on canvas. Graphic Arts Collection. GA 2006.02619. Written on the back of the frame “J.S. Anderson (1908-1995), Self Portrait. Son of Sherwood. Purchased by E.A. [Elmer Adler] 1938 at 54 Washington Mews, New York.”

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In December 1926, writer Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941) and his wife Elizabeth took two of their three children, John (1908–1995), and Marion (aka Mimi, 1911–1996), to Paris. “Within a few days . . . Elizabeth entered Mimi in a private French girls school, and Sherwood placed John in a pension to pick up French and, at Gertrude Stein’s suggestion, in the Académie Julian to study painting. The Andersons joyfully attended the Christmas party Gertrude had invited them to . . . .” While both parents left Paris soon after, it was arranged that Mimi was to stay on at her school until June 1, John at the Académie until September 1.

“John . . . who had expected to find Stein someone ‘arty with a long cigarette holder,’ had seen her several times and was much impressed by her ‘horse sense.’ After the older Andersons had left, John called on her frequently and became one of her favorites. She noted that upon his parents’ leaving he at once changed from ‘an awkward shy boy’ to an assured, handsome young man; decades later he would think of his whole stay in Paris as a young art student as ‘a golden time.’” (Walter B. Rideout, Sherwood Anderson: a Writer in America, v.1 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.)

Sherwood married his fourth wife Eleanor Copenhaver in 1933. The couple lived, on and off, at the exclusive the home of Mary Emmett (Mrs. Burton Emmett) at 54 Washington Mews in Greenwich Village. This painting was purchased by E.A. (presumably Elmer Adler) during the period they were at this address. In 1939, the writer came to Princeton to deliver a Spencer Trask Lecture entitled “Man and His Imagination.” He is quoted as saying, “The use of the imagination on a grand scale can lead to disastrous results. Every good storyteller is a born inventor, but when he lets his invention run away with him he destroys his story.” Daily Princetonian 64, no. 124 (20 October 1939). Elmer Adler brought Anderson’s painting to Princeton the next fall.


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beckett sefour4Before Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) published Le Dépeupleur in 1970 (translated by the author as The Lost Ones in 1971), he gave the opening paragraph to the French artist Jean Deyrolle (1911-1967), to make a fine press artists’ book. Deyrolle completed 32 drawings before his unfortunate death in 1967, leaving the project unfinished.

Beckett selected five of the drawings, which were etched by Louis Maccard and published in a small, unbound volume joining the images with the text. This is number 48 of 150 numbered copies on grand vélin paper signed by Beckett (with the facsimile signature of Deyrolle).

beckett sejour3beckett sejour1beckett sejour6Samuel Beckett (19-19 ), Séjour (Paris: G.R. [Georges Richar], 1970). Etchings by Louis Maccard after drawings by Jean Deyrolle. Graphic Arts Collection 2014- in process

Wallpapers by Edward Bawden

“The Curwen wallpapers were my earliest designs to be printed from linocuts,” writes Edward Bawden (1903-1989) in his introduction to David McKitterick’s Wallpapers.

“In 1924 a friend told me about cutting and printing from lino at a time when such prints were generally unknown, though a few by Claude Flight had appeared in the Print Room galleries of the Victoria and Albert Museum.”

“I bought a piece of lino, the common sort universally used for covering floors, and with a tube of artist’s oil paint, a brush and a roll of white wallpaper, I went off home to experiment.”

“I had on me a penknife sharp enough for cutting soft lino. There was not much room between the end of the double bed and the gas fire, only enough for a chair, in the cramped space typical of a student’s bed-sit of the period, and it was here on a drawing board with a piece of plain wallpaper pinned to it, that gently I put down my foot on a small cut of a cow stippled red and gave the cut gentle foot pressure. The print was better than expected so naturally the cows multiplied and were a small herd by the end of the evening.”

Between 1927 and 1933 the Curwen Press (founded at Plaistow on the north-east outskirts of London) produced a series of wallpapers that challenged an industry dominated by a few manufacturers, and a public often anxious for change but uncertain where it wished to be led. Nearly all of these papers were the work of Edward Bawden.

McKitterick’s book not only provides a history of Bawden’s work but actual sample sheets printed directly from his blocks. Here are a few images.
David McKitterick, Wallpapers by Edward Bawden printed at the Curwen Press (Andoversford, Gloucestershire: Whittington Press, 1988). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2014- in process

What is Project Nemethis… and will it fly..?

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Model for an “Umbrella Plane,” ca. 1910. Wood, wire, and varnished silk. Housed in a specially made fibre-board box.
Graphic Arts Collection. Museum objects.

Last July 2014, the Associated Press announced “Aviation enthusiasts from as many as 70 countries are gathering in Oshkosh this week for the annual Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture. The convention draws about a half million people to the week-long event at near Wittman Regional Airport. Thousands of planes have already landed at the airport.”umbrella2The Experimental Aircraft Association’s Fly-In Convention, now known as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, has been in existence nearly as long as the association itself. Each year more than 500,000 people gather in Wisconsin for a week of aviation events. 10,000 of them fly into Oshkosh in a wide variety of aircraft.

In 2016, several EAA members hope to build and fly Project Nemethis, not a replica but loosely based on the umbrella plane, or ‘Merry Widow’ or ‘cycloplane,’ now housed at Princeton. These passionate aviators have kindly shared a photo and a few facts.

“If Vought, Romme, McCormick and Lille had access to today’s technology and vast material selection…I feel they would have built something like Nemethis. The plane that is being built is known as project “Nemethis” a play on words. …Loosely based on Dr. Stanley J Nemeth’s 1930’s “umbrella” plane design of a round wing, which was loosely based on the McCormick/Romme.

“Project Nemethis . . . is however being constructed of aircraft grade aluminum rather than bamboo and strips of wood. It is eight sided rather than nine and two of the three control surfaces will be imbedded in the inverted V tail which is unique to Nemethis. The airfoil is very similar; and, in the air, it would take a trained observer to not mistake it for one of the McCormick/Romme umbrella planes.”

My sincere thanks to Lee Fisher, who notes, “If there is anybody that should have an interest in the project, I can talk about it for hours.” For more information on the organization, see: http://flyin.airventure.org/media/EAA_AirVenture_history.pdf

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Millionaire Harold Fowler McCormick (1872-1941, Class of 1896), was an aeronautics enthusiast and supporter of the work of the New York inventor William S. Romme (born 1867). Romme designed eleven unique airplanes including a circular plane, which became known as the umbrella plane.

Together with John D. Rockefeller, Jr., McCormick funded the research and construction of the umbrella plane, developed under the supervision of a twenty-year-old engineer named Chance Vought (1890-1930). A model of this aircraft hung in his Aviation room on 675 Rush Street in Chicago for many years, until the estate with donated to Princeton by one of McCormick’s step-sons Alexander Stillman. This model is now at Princeton and we hope a new plane will fly in the next year or two.


St. Joan addendum

joan of arc9In checking the provenance of our Joan of Arc bust, my colleague Steve Ferguson reminds me that Princeton holds a “Collection of reproductions depicting Joan of Arc, scenes from her life, and her childhood home,1630-1937” (Rare Books (Ex) Oversize 1509.142.499.65f).

The gift of Mrs. John P. Poe in honor of her husband John Prentiss Poe Jr. Class of 1895, includes 112 original prints and reproductions depicting Joan in many styles and costumes. The works are by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Marie d’Orléans, Aubrey Beardsley, Henri Chapu, Emmanuel Fremiet, and Anna Hyatt Huntington among others. Here are a few samples.

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Creator of Submarines and Miniature Paintings

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Robert Fulton (1765-1815), Love’s First Interview, 1806. Watercolor. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2006.02373
fulton loves first interviewOxford Art Online lists Robert Fulton (1765-1815) simply as “an engineer of genius who developed the steamboat, [who] was initially a painter of portraits and historical scenes.” Dated 1806, this drawing was executed shortly after his return from England, where he had been studying painting as well as experimenting with submarine designs. It would have been completed around the same time he supervised the construction of the North River Steamboat or Clermont.

Fulton certainly was a renaissance man, with a practicing career as a miniature painter before gaining fame for his engineering skills.

“In 1782 when seventeen years of age, Fulton left his native town for Philadelphia, there to seek his fortune. That city was the capital of the State of Pennsylvania, which, under the mild and beneficent rule of members of the Society of Friends, enjoyed the distinction of being the pioneer in the arts of peace among the States of the Union. Hither came men of science and scholarship, finding the atmosphere congenial to work and study. In Philadelphia were founded the first American Philosophical Society, the first public library in America, the first medical and law schools; the first printing press in the middle colonies was set up there, and prior to the Revolution more books were published in Pennsylvania than in all the other colonies combined. It is not surprising that Fulton should develop quickly in the new field of thought and activity which opened before him.

Not much is known of his doings during the first three years of his stay in the Quaker City. It is said that he was apprenticed to a silversmith, but he would be too old for that; another statement which is much more probable is that he was glad to turn his hand to almost any kind of work in drawing plans, designing buildings, and painting portraits. Already in in 1852 by his application and industry, he had established himself as a miniature painter, and during the next two years he met with a considerable measure of success. Several miniatures and one or two portraits of some merit remain to this day to prove his proficiency. Charles Willson Peale was then the principal painter in the city, and Fulton may have had lessons from him.” –H. W. Dickinson, Robert Fulton: Engineer and Artist (London 1913)

Decorative photos

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This untitled photo album, signed “with best wishes from Grace” holds 24 cut and mounted photographs from the late 1800s. Views include the south shore of Lake Michigan and other Chicago sites. There is reason to believe that the album comes from the family of Robert Burns (1844-1916), Detroit newspaper editor and publisher. We have not yet identified any of the individuals photographed.

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St. Joan

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“Two or three winters ago,” wrote Royal Cortissoz, art critic for The New York Times, “Mr. Gerome Brush left a new and delightful impression in one of the exhibitions with a bust of Joan of Arc. We have seen nothing of his work since, but now about a dozen examples of it have been brought together at the Knoedler gallery and it is possible to form a fuller judgment on his talent. The talent is there, beyond a doubt, and the first thing we observe about it is its original grain.” (November 24, 1918)U

The son of painter George de Forest Brush (1855-1941) and sculptor/aviator Mittie (Mary) Taylor Whelpley Brush (1866-1949), Gerome grew up in the artists’ colony in Dublin, New Hampshire, next door to Samuel Clemens. He was named after his father’s painting master, Jean-Léon Gérome and apprenticed with his father as both a painter and sculptor.

When Gerome Brush and his wife, actress Louise Seymour, settled in Boston, he accepted several civic commissions, including murals for the Children’s Hospital and individual portraits of the entire Boston Symphony orchestra. These charcoal drawings were later published in a 1936 trade edition with biographies of each musician.

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Gerome Brush (1888-1954), St. Joan, 1915. Bronze. Signed and dated in the base. Cast at A. Kunst Foundry, New York. Graphic Arts Collection Museum Objects