Design for Hamlet

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Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966), Stage scene design for Hamlet, ca. 1910 from A Second Portfolio of Etchings. Etching on Japan paper, signed with initials. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2014- in process.

Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966) worked with the Moscow Art Theater beginning in 1908, collaborating with Konstantin Stanislavski (1863-1938) on a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which finally opened in 1912. During this period, he released two portfolios of etched designed, one in 1908 and one in 1910, for various theater productions including his Hamlet. An advertisement for the first portfolio was published in The Mask.


These etchings are strikingly different from the Hamlet he designed in woodcuts for Count Harry Graf Kessler’s Cranach Press in 1928 (English edition in 1930). With the acquisition of Craig etching above, our students can now compare the two projects.

canvasWilliam Shakespeare (1564-1616), The Tragedie of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke. Edited by J. Dover Wilson…from the text of the second qvarto printed in 1604-5…with which are also printed the Hamlet stories from Saxo Grammaticus and Belleforest and English translations therefrom. Illustrated by Edward Gordon Craig (Weimar: Printed by Count Harry Kessler at the Cranach Press, 1930). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2007-0315Q

Edward Gordon Craig

craig photograph7 Director and stage designer Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966) is the subject of a group of photographs recently acquired by the Graphic Arts Collection. In particular is the print seen above, showing Craig with his lover, the violinist Elena Fortuna Meo (1879–1957) and their two children, Nelly (1904–1975) and Edward (called Teddy) Carrick (1905–1998), from around 1910 when they were living in Florence. Craig’s mother was the actress Ellen Alice Terry (1847–1928) who was married for a time to the Pre-Raphealite painter George Frederick Watts (1817-1904). Meo’s father, Gaetano Meo (1850-1925), was also a painter and frequent model for the Pre-Raphealites.

The photograph below of Craig at a bookcase comes from the collection of the Irish stage designer Anne Butler Yeats (1919-2001), daughter of W.B. Yeats. Several others, showing Craig at age 89, were taken by Craig’s biographer and collector, Arnold Rood, while they were together in Venice in 1961. The last photograph posted here–Craig is seen writing–was taken by David Lees (1916–2004), his son by the poet Dorothy Nevile Lees, and is inscribed by Craig in ink at the top, “Another aged affair but good, 1950 Camassade” and at bottom “For d[Daphne] from Partie.”

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Thomas Frye (ca. 1710-1762), Ipse (Self-Portrait), 1760. Mezzotint. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2005.01296

During the 1740s and 1750s, the Irish artist Thomas Frye (1710-1762) spent considerable time producing porcelain at the Bow Factory, London, inventing and patenting several new processes. However, Frye’s health apparently suffered from work among the furnaces and he retired in 1759. Frye’s last years were spent creating a series of powerful mezzotints, for which he is now chiefly remembered.

“[Frye] used this process to sell “Twelve Mezzotinto Prints . . . drawn from Nature and as large as life” (The Public Advertiser, 28 April 1760, p. 4). The result was a novel series of varied character studies not based on preexisting paintings and unidentified except for a single self-portrait [seen here]. The striking poses, and Frye’s successful use of the dramatic light effects that mezzotint could supply, made an immediate impact. One critic praised them in The British Magazine in June 1760 (vol. 1, no. 5, p. 135), and Joseph Wright of Derby (1734–1797) included one of the heads—the seated young man on the far left—in his painting Experiment on the Air Pump of 1768, which was released as a mezzotint the following year.”-—T. Barton Thurber, “Production, Distribution, and Marketing of English Mezzotints in the Eighteenth Century” (2010).


Belle da Costa Greene’s bookplate

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Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966), Belle da Costa Greene’s bookplate, 1911. Etching. Graphic Arts Collection 2014- in process. Two copies: copy one hand colored; copy two uncolored and inscribed by Teddy Craig to Lee Freeson, a dealer in rare books about theater.

001162 Belle da Costa Greene (1883-1950) was a librarian at the Princeton University Library from 1901 or 1902 until 1906, when J. P. Morgan hired her to manage his library in New York City. When the Morgan collection was incorporated, Greene became the first director of the Pierpont Morgan Library, where she remained until 1948. For additional information see:

Her father was Richard Theodore Greener, an attorney who served as dean of the Howard University School of Law and was the first black student and first black graduate of Harvard (class of 1870).

Like many bibliophiles, Greene had a bookplate designed and printed for her personal collection. Hers was designed by Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966) in 1911, who also designed bookplates for his mother, Ellen Terry; for the dancer and his lover, Isadora Duncan; and many others. The graphic arts collection recently acquired two copies of Greene’s bookplate, one hand colored and the other a rare uncolored example. It is unusual also because it is etched, while most of Craig’s other plates were carved in wood.

craig photograph8See also: Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966), Bookplates designed & cut on wood (Hackbridge, Surrey: The Sign of the Rose, 1900). Rare Books: Theatre Collection (ThX) 0298.272.

Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966), Nothing, or, The bookplate (London: Chatto & Windus, 1924). Graphic Arts Off-Site Storage RCPXG-5896211

John Blatchly, The bookplates of Edward Gordon Craig (London: Bookplate Society and The Apsley House Press, 1997). Rare Books (Ex) item 6815531

John Heartfield’s Photomontage

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Karl August Wittfogel (1896-1988), Das erwachende China: ein Abriß der Geschichte und der gegenwärtigen Probleme Chinas [The Awakening of China, An Outline of the History and Current Problems of China] (Wien: Agis, 1926). Original book jacket designed by John Heartfield (1891-1968). Graphic Arts Collection 2014- in process

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Ilʹi︠a︡ Ehrenburg (1891-1967), 13 Pfeifen [13 Pipes; translation of Trinadtsat trubok, first published 1923] (Berlin: Malik-Verlag, 1930). Original book jacket designed by John Heartfield (1891-1968). Graphic Arts Collection 2014- in process

In 1917, Wieland Herzfelde (1896-1988) and his brother Helmut Herzfelde (later known as John Heartfield, 1891-1968) founded the Malik publishing house in Berlin. In the 1920s, they added a branch in Vienna.

As members of the newly founded German Communist Party (KPD), the brothers published an international list of authors, translated into German. Heartfield created dust jackets for most of the books with highly creative designs in photomontage. He also designed jackets for other activist publishers, such as Agis-Verlag (Antirassistische Gruppe Internationale Solidarität = Anti-racist group International Solidarity).

The Graphic Arts Collection has been acquiring Heartfield’s original jackets whenever possible. This fall, we added a volume of short stories by Ilya Ehrenburg, a Soviet writer, journalist, translator, and cultural figure. We also acquired a history of Chinese culture by the German American playwright Karl August Wittfogel. Both members of KPD, Heartfield and Wittfogel also worked together on several theatrical productions, with Heartfield painting the backdrops and Wittfogel writing the scripts.

Belgian Trade Cards or Cartes porcelaine

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belgian trade cards17Artist and collector W. Allen Scheuch II, Class of 1976, spent many years tracking and acquiring cartes porcelaine or trade cards made in Belgium between 1840 and 1860. The collection numbers in the thousands and is divided into professions; genres such as menus or holiday cards; inking and coloring variants; and many other categories useful for researchers. These cards are now available in the graphic arts collection at Princeton, in honor of Ben Primer. I am posting a few the Belgian chromolithographic printers made to publicize themselves.

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“Most surviving trade cards produced by chromolithographers in the years leading up to the middle of the nineteenth century are Belgian,” writes Michael Twyman. “They belong to a broader category of lithographed product generally referred to in Belgium and France as ‘cartes porcelaine’ (enameled cards). Their common feature is that they were printed on card that had been coated with white lead (otherwise known as ceruse or carbonate of lead); the substance was similar to the lead paint used by artists and was often referred to in France as Clichy white. Card with this white lead coating was subject to pressure from steel cylinders at the final stage of manufacture, which gave it a sheen and also ensured a perfectly smooth printing surface. This provided lithographic printers with an opportunity to produce extremely intricate work, which they did by turning to the process of engraving on stone.”
A History of Chromolithography, p. 422. GARF NE2500.T8 2013

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Pathé Baby Gifts

pathe baby equipment6 Our sincere thanks today go to W. Allen Scheuch II, Class of 1976, who has tripled our Pathé Baby projector collection. These, along with a German Pathé manual, extra bulbs, repair kit and tools, special film oil, and various other equipment, are given in honor of Rubén Gallo, Walter S. Carpenter, Jr., Professor in Language, Literature, and Civilization of Spain; Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures; and Director, Program in Latin American Studies. It was Professor Gallo who first introduced our department to the Pathé company and its film history.

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pathe baby equipment7Thanks to Mr. Scheuch’s gift, we now understand that Pathé’s special 9.5 mm film came in several length reels, the first running approximately one minute and the other two or three minutes. We have yet to play the films that came today but one has a note that it shows a procession in 1932 (written in German).
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pathe baby equipment1Coming in 2015, we will be adding several hundred additional films to the Princeton University website, which have been digitized and catalogued.  Until then, take a look at these:
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Graphic Arts acquires The Torture Garden

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Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) and Octave Mirbeau (1848-1917), Le Jardin des supplices [The Torture Garden] (Paris: Ambroise Vollard, 1902). One of 155 copies on velin from a total edition of 200. Graphic Arts Collection 2014- in process

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Friends and collaborators, Auguste Rodin and Octave Mirbeau published a modest illustrated edition of The Torture Garden in 1899, to limited success. When they heard that art dealer Ambroise Vollard (1866–1939) was preparing a deluxe edition of Paul Verlaine’s erotic poem Parallèlement with lithographs by Pierre Bonnard, they approached Vollard about also publishing their book as a deluxe edition.

“Less than two weeks after they had signed a contract with Vollard on February 10, 1899, the master printer Auguste Clot received ten of Rodin’s designs for reproduction as lithographs. When Vollard’s edition appeared in 1902, the subject and illustrations proved too challenging for some clients, who returned copies they had preordered, creating significant cash flow problems for Vollard.”–Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-garde by Rebecca A. Rabinow (2006)

Clot printed 18 color and 2 black and white lithographs, with Rodin by his side supervising. In the final bound volume, these plates are interspersed throughout Mirbeau’s text, protected with a tissue printed with a linear reproduction of Rodin’s nude underneath. Today, this book is recognized as one of the rarest and most important livre d’artiste ever produced.

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“Novels that produce a physical effect upon their reader,” writes Tom McCarthy, “sending jolts outwards from the spine to the remotest nerve-ends, tightening the throat and burning the ears, must number very few; and The Torture Garden must stand near the top of any list of these. Yet not only is it—in its extremity, its viscerality and violence—an uncommon or ‘exceptional’ work of fiction; it also sits neatly in the middle of what, when the dust of time has cleared and the staid realist novels of the early twentieth century have been forgotten, will be seen as a canonical mainline running between the counter-enlightenment visions of Sade and the post-industrial ones of Burroughs and Ballard.”

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Shadow and Substance

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The British illustrator Charles Henry Bennett (1828–1867) drew a series of caricatures for the Illustrated Times known informally as Shadows, beginning as early as 1856. In each scene, a shadow is cast by an individual to form a surprising, usually humorous shape, which reveals something about their inner personality. It is a play on the popular magic lantern entertainments of the period.

Between 1858 and 1859, Bennett’s images were wood-engraved by Joseph Swain, matched with prose and poetry by Robert Brough, and issued in 10 parts by William Kent. In 1860, the parts were collected and published with hand colored plates under the title Shadow and Substance.

The preface notes that it is a book of images, illustrated with text, stating “It is only necessary to state formally what will be found implied symbolically in the introductory chapter, namely, that the work originated with the artist—the writer’s share of it being, consequently, accessorial and supplementary.”

The popularity of these images led to a series of magic lantern slides, issued by Fred V.A. Lloyd, Liverpool, with reduced black and white wood engravings of Bennett’s caricatures. The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired five of these slides, including one labeled “Elephant” never reproduced in the Bennett’s book.


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shadow and sub7   shadow and sub1shadow and sub10Charles H. Bennett, Shadow and Substance. Text by Robert B. Brough (London: W. Kent & Co., 1860). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2014- in process

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Diebenkorn and Yeats

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Richard Diebenkorn, Poems of W.B. Yeats, selected and introduced by Helen Vendler (San Francisco: Arion Press, 1990). Edition: 426 copies. Graphic Arts Collection 2014- in process

yeats diebenkorn1When a man grows old his joy
Grows more deep day after day,
His empty heart is full at length,
But he has need of all that strength
Because of the increasing Night
That opens her mystery and fright.
Fifteen apparitions have I seen;
The worst a coat upon a coat-hanger.

–verse from The Apparitions by W.B. Yeats




Yeats wrote this poem in March/April 1938 and published it before the end of that year. The 73 year-old poet had not been well and knew he was coming to the end of his life. Similarly, Richard Diebenkorn was in his last years in 1990 when he received a commission to create work for Arion Press. The artist agreed and chose to visualize Yeats’s late poems.

“The poetry of William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) burst the boundaries of its native Ireland to become part of world culture. Helen Vendler, one of the foremost authorities on modern poetry and a University Professor at Harvard, selected for the Arion Press 145 poems and provided an introductory essay for the book. Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993), internationally recognized as one of America’s leading artists, took the Yeatsian theme of an empty coat on a hanger to produce a series of prints transforming the garment from a representational frock-coat into an abstracted suit-bag. The sixth etching is a double map of Ireland, indicative of that divided country.”–prospectus

It is, perhaps, surprising that the Graphic Arts Collection did not already own a copy of this fine press edition but the gap has now been filled.
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