Christopher P. Heuer

Christopher P. Heuer, assistant professor from 2007 to 2014 in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University, has been appointed associate director of research and academic programs at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA.

In addition to its active fellowship program, the Clark organizes year-round scholarly programs, including lectures, conversations, colloquia, symposia, and conferences that “enrich the intellectual life of the Institute and contribute to a broader understanding of the role of art in culture.”

Among Heuer’s many popular classes while at Princeton taught with the RBSC collections were Early Modern Media, which examined ideas of media in the European world, ca. 1400 to 1799; and Northern Renaissance Art, a survey of painting, prints, and art theory ca. 1300 to 1550, with an emphasis on major figures such as Van Eyck, Bosch, Dürer, and Bruegel.20140711-CLARK-slide-SDZE-jumbo

Heuer is currently a Samuel H. Kress Senor Fellow under the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, completing research for a book about the appearance of the Arctic in artistic practice from Renaissance times until today, to be entitled: The Iceberg and the Acrobat: Time and the Printed Image in the Northern Renaissance.

His other writings include The City Rehearsed: Object, Architecture, and Print in the Worlds of Hans Vredeman de Vries (2013), Vision and Communism: Viktor Koretsky and Dissident Public Visual Culture (co-author) (2011), and Dürer’s Motions: Kinetics of the German Renaissance (Reaktion Books, forthcoming).

The Worship of Bacchus Returns

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George Cruikshank (1792-1878), Worship of Bacchus, or The Drinking Customs of Society, June 20, 1864. Steel engraving. Graphic Arts collection. Gift of Richard W. Meirs, Class of 1888.

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George Cruikshank, The Worship of Bacchus. Oil on canvas. (c) Tate Britain

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Missing since we last looked for it in 2008, this mammoth print by George Cruikshank (1792-1878) entitled Worship of Bacchus, or The Drinking Customs of Society (June 20, 1864) was recently uncovered and returned to the Graphic Arts Collection.

A gift from Richard W. Meirs, Class of 1888, the steel engraving is over 100 centimeters long. It reproduces of the well-known oil painting by Cruikshank, printed by Richard Holdgate and published by William Tweedie in London. Note the lunatic asylum at the top, next to the prison with gallows on the roof.
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The Tate’s painting was also removed from public view for a long time and only recently restored for the exhibition Rude Britannia. To see the scale of the original watch this video:

For an explanation of the iconography, see: John Stewart, The worship of Bacchus: size 13 ft. 4 in. by 7 ft. 8in: painted by George Cruikshank: a critique of the above painting; a descriptive lecture by George Cruikshank; and opinions of the press. 6th ed. (London: W. Tweedie, 1862). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Cruik 939

Visit from the students of the Lycée Français de New York


It was a busy morning in our Versailles on Paper exhibition gallery. We had a visit from students from the Lycée Français de New York (LFNY), thanks to the special planning of their teachers Arthur Plaza and Brandon S. Marshall and to Nicolas L’Hotellier, Director of the Secondary School. We are grateful that they took the time and trouble to come down from New York City.


After a brief tour of the exhibition, the students broke into groups of two and each pair studied an individual object in the gallery, composed a text, and presented a video lecture about that work for their classmates to view. Surprisingly, no one case or subject attracted the most attention but each student gravitated to his or her own specialization.
The Lycée holds the distinction of being one of the most renowned bilingual French schools in North America. The school welcomes students from more than 50 nationalities, giving them an education based on academic excellence and personal growth. It prepares them to become responsible, dynamic citizens, capable of playing an important role in the future of the world.

Le Lycée Français de New York est l’une des écoles bilingues françaises les plus réputées en Amérique du Nord. Le Lycée prodigue une éducation fondée sur l’excellence scolaire et l’épanouissement personnel à des élèves de plus de 50 nationalités différentes. Ils apprennent à devenir des citoyens responsables, capables de jouer un rôle important dans l’avenir du monde.
lfny7For more information on the exhibition, which continues to mid July, see:



Ed Colker Presents His Life and Work

ed colker2Last night, the renowned painter, printmaker, and educator Ed Colker gave a presentation of his life and work at the Grolier Club in New York City. The audience was filled with Colker’s students, many of whom are now leading artists and educators themselves thanks to his training.

Born in Philadelphia, Colker attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, now known as the University of the Arts. Thanks to a Guggenheim Fellowship, he was able to study in Europe before returning to teach in Chicago. Colker rose to become Director of the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois.

He went on to found the Center for Editions at SUNY Purchase, where he served as both Professor of Art and Design and Dean of the School of Visual Arts. Colker has also served as a faculty member and Provost at Cooper Union and Provost at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

In 1960, Colker founded the not-for-profit fine art publisher Haybarn Press (initially Editions du Grenier) for publishing of fine art limited editions in collaboration with poets and in response to poetic texts. We are fortunate to have a number of his books and portfolios in the Graphic Arts Collection.

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Join us for a Sneak Preview of A Little Chaos

A special sneak preview of A Little Chaos will be presented at the Garden Theatre on June 17, 2015, co-sponsored by the Friends of the Princeton University Library

The British historical drama A Little Chaos comes to the Princeton Garden Theatre for one night only on June 17, prior to its June 26 release. This special early screening is being presented in conjunction with the Princeton University Library’s current exhibition Versailles on Paper: A Graphic Panorama of the Palace and Gardens of Louis XIV, which continues through July

The preview will begin at 7:00 p.m.  Tickets are free but reservations are required. Reservations can be made at their website or at the theater box office on Nassau Street, Princeton NJ.

Alan Rickman directs and stars in this period piece about two talented landscape artists who become romantically entangled while building a garden in King Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles. Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci, and Matthias Schoenaerts also star.

About Renew Theaters
Renew manages the County, Ambler, and Hiway Theaters in Pennsylvania and the Princeton Garden Theatre in New Jersey. These historic movie houses function as arthouse cinemas, screening independent, foreign, and classic films for their local audiences.

For more information on the exhibition, see the website:

For more information on the Garden Theater’s films and special events, see

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Lithography in Cincinnati

midnight bell3The Graphic Arts Collection holds a number of American lithographic posters, most of them printed in Cincinnati. In January 1867 the job printing portion of the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper was purchased by Maj. A. O. Russell, Robert J. Morgan, James M. Armstrong and John F. Robinson Jr. (owner of the Robinson Bros. Circus and the Robinson Opera House), who incorporated under the name of Russell, Morgan & Company. The company printed posters and circulars for theaters, circuses, and other firms around the country.

midnight bell2“In the extension of the art of lithography into color work, Cincinnati printing concerns at once step into first place. As a lithographic center, this city has no superior in point of product or its quality. There is established in Cincinnati the only general lithographers’ supply house west of New York, and it is said to be the best stocked and most thoroughly equipped of any in the country, barring none. This in itself is a commentary on the importance of this city in this line.”

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school girl3“There are three distinct lines in which Cincinnati leads the world. They are in the printing of posters, labels and playing cards. The poster work done here cannot be praised too highly. It is the largest and finest business of the kind in the world, and that these may not appear to be unwarranted claims, it is needed but to tell the facts that Cincinnati has practically all of the printing of posters to do for all the circuses of the country, and at least seventy-five per cent, of the theatrical work. It is a pioneer in the business. The first circus bill of at all modern size was set by the late A. O. Russell by hand, and from this early and simple beginning the business has grown to its present enormous proportions, and has earned its reputation as first city in the world in this branch. One other fact might be mentioned to show the good reason for these claims.”

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school girl “…From figures carefully collected and compiled by the Cincinnati Typothetae it is shown that there are in that city one hundred and seventy printing offices. These offices use three hundred and seventy-five cylinder presses, four hundred and twenty-five job presses and one hundred and sixty-eight paper cutting machines. There are sixty-two of these offices that have cylinder presses with capacity to deliver 4.500,000 printed sheets per day. The job presses in the city have a capacity of 6,375,000 printed sheets per day. It is estimated from sources that are quite reliable that the one hundred and seventy printing concerns in Cincinnati have a combined capital of something over $5,000,000. The three thousand six hundred and fifty employees receive in wages $2,900,000, while the total value of the printed output is $6,500,000.”

“These concerns use annually $125,000 worth of printing ink, and the large size of some of Cincinnati’s printing concerns can be seen from the fact that one concern uses almost half of this amount of ink. The amount of ink that is used by a lithographer or showbill printer is much greater than that used in book or job printing, since in the former case it is put on almost solid. The cost of the inks used by these large concerns is greater than the cost of the black inks and the news inks that are used in the other departments.” – “Printing in Cincinnati,” American Printer and Lithographer 31 (1900), pp.98-99.

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Learning to make woodblock prints

nordfeldt training oxford3Frank Morley Fletcher (1866-1950), Wood-Block Printing; a Description of the Craft of Woodcutting & Colour Printing Based on the Japanese Practice; with drawings and illustrations by the author and A.W. Seaby; Also collotype reproductions of various examples of printing and an original print designed and cut by the author printed by hand on Japanese paper (London: J. Hogg, 1916). From the printing collection of Elmer Adler. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) NE1225.F5

When 20th century artists wanted to learn to make traditional woodblock prints, they traveled to Great Britain to study with F. Morley Fletcher (1866-1950), who is credited with promoting the woodblock medium in Western art. This is where Bror Nordfeldt went in 1914 and when he returned to the United States, he taught this method at his Modern Art School on Washington Square in the winters and at Provincetown, RI, in the summers. While Nordfeldt was credited for introducing the special genre of color printing known as white-line woodcuts, it was Fletcher’s training that led to these beautiful prints.
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Fletcher taught in Oxford, London, and also directed the Edinburgh College of Art until 1923, when he left Great Britain to become the first director of the newly founded Santa Barbara School of Art. In 1916, Fletcher published his seminal text on woodblock printing as one of “The artistic crafts series of technical handbooks” issued by John Hogg. Among many important sections, the volume includes a progressive sequence of collotypes showing the fifteen blocks carved to print one image. Here are a few.

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This little book gives an account of one of the primitive crafts, in the practice of which only the simplest tools and materials are used. Their method of use may serve as a means of expression for artist-craftsmen, or may be studied in preparation for, or as a guide towards, more elaborate work in printing, of which the main principles may be seen most clearly in their application in the primitive craft.

In these days the need for reference to primitive handicrafts has not ceased with the advent of the machine. The best achievements of hand-work will always be the standards for reference and on their study must machine craft be based. The machine can only increase the power and scale of the crafts that have already been perfected by hand-work. Their principles, and the art of their design, do not alter under the machine. If the machine disregards these its work becomes base. And it is under the simple conditions of a handicraft that the principles of an art can be most clearly experienced.

The best of all the wonderful and excellent work that is produced today by machinery is that which bears evidence in itself of its derivation from arts under the pure conditions of classic craftsmanship, and shows the influence of their study.- Author’s note


La Marseillaise / The Mobilisation

steinlen France mobilized their troops for World War I in August of 1914 but it was not until the following year that Théophile Steinlen printed this patriotic etching. The Swiss artist had arrived in Paris at the age of 19 and settled in Montmartre, a regular at the Chat Noir nightclub.

Around 1880, he began drawing for humorous magazines. Steinlen worked in succession on the Chat Noir, Gil Blas Illustré, for which he did 703 drawings for 503 issues between 28 June 1891 and 1897, Mirliton, Chambard, Rire and L’Assiette au Beurre. In 1911, he was one of the 13 founders of the short-lived journal Les Humoristes, along with Forain, Willette, Léandre, J. Veber and others.

steinlinThéophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923), [La Marseillaise or The Mobilisation] 1915. Drypoint. Graphic Arts Collection GA2015- in process

Dennis Cate writes, “While Steinlen is best known for his bold, highly stylized black and red poster for the Chat Noir (1896), his greatest contribution to the poster art of the 1890s was his production of realistic colour lithographic images such as Mothu et Doria (1893), Lait pur sterilisé de la vingeanne (1894), the massive, life-size La Rue (1896) and the politically poignant Petit sou (1900), which indirectly advertised products by conveying human sympathies and ideals. Between 1898 and 1902 he also executed over 30 colour etchings which are more personal and intimate. In these delicate etchings of nudes and landscapes, produced in very small editions, Steinlen experimented with the media of softground and aquatint. During World War I he designed patriotic prints, for example his lithograph The Republic Calls Us and his etching of The Mobilization (both 1915).”

See Death as a Triumph

image002On Sunday, the opinion page of the New York Times ran an essay by Deborah Lutz on death masks and other postmortem memorials ( The author of Relics of Death in Victorian Literature and Culture (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Firestone Library (F) PR468.D42 L88 2015) wrote:

What I came to realize was that the Victorians cared about the mortal body; its very mortality mattered profoundly to them. Today we try to deny the body’s movement toward death, its inevitable decay. The Victorians, instead of fearing the process of dying and the corpse, felt reverence. These were stages in the life of a beloved body and should be treasured.

It is interesting that she would choose to illustrate the article with a death mask that included the pillow and blanket around Sir Thomas Lawrence, since this was a rather uncommon pose. The Laurence Hutton collection of life and death masks includes only three in such a position, which we can confirm having just moved them.


Frederick II, King of Prussia, 1712-1786


Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant, 1746-1793


Leo Tolstoy, 1828-1910

grantUlysses S. Grant, 1822-1885, was posed with a laurel wreath around his head.

See others: