Horsfall’s Nassau Hall

During the first weeks of June 1909, an exhibition was held at the Nassau Club in Princeton, N.J., featuring “paintings and sketches of the campus made by the well-known artist, Robert Bruce Horsfall.” A review in the Daily Princetonian mentions, in particular, “The large painting of ‘Old Nassau’ is of a rainy day in late autumn, showing the fine old elms in the foreground, and could have been made only by one thoroughly familiar with the campus.”–Daily Princetonian 34, no. 74 (June 5, 1909). Unfortunately, only members of the Club were invited to see Horsfall’s work.

Today, thanks to the generous donation of Tracy Mennen Shehab in honor of her grandfather, William G. Mennen, Class of ’36, Horsfall’s painting of Old Nassau is now part of the Graphic Arts Collection where it can be seen by one and all.

Born in Clinton, Iowa, one of the few thorough obituaries for Horsfall appeared in the Annals of Iowa, published by the State Historical Society of Iowa (fall 1948), which reads, in part,

“Robert Bruce Horsfall, artist and naturalist, died at Long Branch, New Jersey, at Monmouth Memorial hospital, March 24, 1948 . . . as an illustrator of backgrounds for natural habitats, [Horsfall] first exhibited in Chicago in 1886, also at Chicago World’s fair in 1893, and at mid-winter exposition, San Francisco 1893-94; his work often exhibited in national and private museums; from 1904 to 1914 did scientific illustrations for the Princeton Patagonian Report and lived at Princeton University during most of that time.”


The full Report of the Princeton University Expeditions to Patagonia can be read online at: https://archive.org/details/reportsofprincet01prin

The Many, Many Roads to Heaven and Hell

There are many woodcuts and broadsides depicting the roads to heaven and hell. Thanks to Bruce Willsie, Class of 1986, the Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have a rather curious variation. It isn’t, as many are, published ca. 1840 by Gustav Peters in Harrisburg, PA or ca. 1830 by Herman William Villee in Lancaster PA, or even the 1825 series printed by François Georgin in the printshop of Jean-Charles Pellerin, Epinal, France.

The woodcut now at Princeton titled Das Neue Jerusalem was published by “Chez Dekherr, Montbeliard, Doubs, France,” the only one found from Alsace so far. As are most of the variations, the text is in German and the devil in the lower right is closer to, but not exactly the same as the one at the Library of Congress [below], dated simply 1800s:

The Library Company of Philadelphia has:Note these later Pennsylvania Dutch broadsides show only three people walking to heaven, one being African American. They are holding burning lamps while the folks below say “give us some oil” because they have no light.


The British Museum [above] has a copy of Das neue Jerusalem (The New Jerusalem) published in Wissembourg and printed by C Burckardt between 1850 and 1870. “No.17. Deponirt / Druck u. Verlag v. C. Burckardt’s Nachf. Weissenburg (Elsass). This version of hell is closer to Cornell University’s The 3 Roads to Eternity (Les 3 Chemins de l’Eternite), which is held in their “Persuasive Maps” collection. [see below] They date it 1825, printed by Francois Georgin, “a popular and accomplished woodcutter in the printshop of Jean-Charles Pellerin, in the Vosges mountain village of Epinal”. For full details on references, see http://persuasivemaps.library.cornell.edu/content/references.

Cornell’s copy

The Heimatmuseum Trostberg has this 1845 Epinal version, with the door to hell oddly closed.One of the Epinal woodblocks looks ready for printing.


Our devil is the only one who stares directly at the viewer and there are many extra beasts and bodies embedded in Princeton’s copy. Note the dainty Whore of Babylon.

The British Museum has William Blake’s pen and ink and watercolor drawing of The Whore of Babylon also holding a chalice, 1809

Here is Albrecht Dürer version of the Whore of Babylon, woodcut ca.1496-97. She is in the bottom right, it takes a minute to find her.

Read more:
Christa Pieska, “The European Origins of Four Pennsylvania German Broadsheet Themes: Adam and Eve; the New Jerusaslem – The Broad and Narrow way; the Unjust Judgment; the Stages of Life.” Der Reggeboge 23 (1989) 1, pp 13-22 Firestone ReCAP F160.G3 R43

Russell D. Earnest, Flying leaves and one-sheets: Pennsylvania German broadsides, Fraktur, and their printers (New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, 2005). Marquand Library Z209.P4 E23 2005

Don Yoder, The Pennsylvania German broadside (University Park, PA : Pennsylvania State University Press for the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania German Society, 2005). Firestone Library GR110.P4 A372 vol. 39


Thank you to all the institutions that posted images online, which I have pulled together to compare for educational purposes.

Ruth and James McCrea

[Above] Ruth and James McCrea, Cover design for Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970). Oil paint on board. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of Charles Scribner III, Class of 1973.


Ruth and James McCrea, Cover design for In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970). Oil paint on board. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of Charles Scribner III, Class of 1973.


In 1960, the first 21 titles in the Scribner Library (paperback) series were published, beginning with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  One artist was assigned to each author, so that writer’s books would have a distinct and yet, uniformed appearance.

This plan was interrupted only once, with the cover designs for the novels of Ernest Hemingway, which were painted by the husband and wife team of James C. McCrea (1920-2013) and Ruth McCrea (1921-2016).

Thanks to the gift of Charles Scribner III, Class of 1973, we are fortunate to have all 11 paintings by the McCreas for the covers of Hemingway’s novels, including Across the River and into the Trees; A Farewell To Arms; For Whom The Bell Tolls; In Our Time; Men Without Women; The Green Hills of Africa; The Old Man and the Sea; The Snows of Kilimanjaro; The Sun Also Rises; To Have and Have Not; and Winner Take Nothing. None of the paintings for Scribner’s are signed by either artist.


Ruth and James McCrea, Cover design for For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970). Oil paint on board. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of Charles Scribner III, Class of 1973.


James McCrea was born in Peoria, IL; attended the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee; and served in the Merchant Marine in World War II. Ruth McCrea was born in Jersey City, NJ, and attended school first in Brooklyn Heights, then Sarasota, Florida.

It was at the Ringling School of Art that she met James, marrying him on the 4th of July 1943. While he served in the Marines, Ruth sold her watercolor landscapes (beach scenes clearly still in evidence on Hemingway’s covers).

The McCreas both worked as freelance designers and illustrators commuting from Bayport, NY on the south shore of Long Island and much of this information comes from Ruth’s obituary written by Carissa Katz for the East Hampton Star newspaper.

While the two worked closely on many projects, Ruth illustrated a series of cookbooks on her own while James taught typography at The Cooper Union. A search of the two names brings 91 books with designs credited to Ruth McCrea and only 60 for James McCrea.

Here are a few more of their paintings for Hemingway’s books.

Ruth and James McCrea, Cover design for Across the River and into the Trees by Ernest Hemingway (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970). Oil paint on board. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of Charles Scribner III, Class of 1973.


Ruth and James McCrea, Cover design for A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970). Oil paint on board. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of Charles Scribner III, Class of 1973.

[above] Ruth and James McCrea, Cover design for Winner Take Nothing by Ernest Hemingway (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970). Oil paint on board. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of Charles Scribner III, Class of 1973.

[below] Ruth and James McCrea, Cover design for To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970). Oil paint on board. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of Charles Scribner III, Class of 1973.

Ruth and James McCrea, Cover design for The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970). Oil paint on board. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of Charles Scribner III, Class of 1973.


Ruth and James McCrea, Cover design for The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970). Oil paint on board. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of Charles Scribner III, Class of 1973.



International Xiloprint Exhibition 2019

A new collection catalogue was received today from the Casa da Xilogravura Museum in Campos do Jordão, Brazil, where they just launched a bilingual website: http://casadaxilogravura.com.br/english/index.php

“The Casa da Xilogravura Museum was created by Antonio Fernando Costella, a lawyer graduated from the Law School of Largo São Francisco. Also [a] journalist, Costella was university professor and to this day he is head of the initiatives of the museum.”

Printers take note: The Museum is scheduling a major international exhibition: XiloPrint 2019 and writes “The Xylography Museum invites all the engravers of the world to take part in the International Xiloprint Exhibition 2019 Brazil.”

Every printmaker in the world is asked to send one woodcut or wood engraving through November 30, 2018, to
Museu Casa Da Xilogravura
Caixa postal 42
12460-000 Campos do Jordão

Moby Dick crosses over

Congratulations to our colleagues at the Princeton University Art Museum, where the exhibition Frank Stella Unbound: Literature and Printmaking opened this weekend and can be seen through Sunday, September 23, 2018. The show features a number of books from our collections and highlights Stella’s inspiration from literature. Organized in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the artist’s graduation as a member of the Class of 1958, the exhibition will travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville.

See above our three volume Moby Dick, with prints by Rockwell Kent, installed so you can see Stella’s responding print on the wall. Label copy gives the viewer a quote from the book’s text, rather than an art historical commentary.

“Frank Stella Unbound: Literature and Printmaking focuses on a revolutionary period in the artist’s printmaking career, between 1984 and 1999, when Stella executed four ambitious print series, each of which was named after a distinct literary work: the Passover song Had Gadya, a compilation of Italian folktales, the epic American novel Moby-Dick, and the illustrated The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. In the four series titled after these sources, Stella created prints of unprecedented scale and complexity, transforming his own visual language—as well as his working process in all media—and reaching a technical and expressive milestone in printmaking.”—PUAM press release.

See more: http://artmuseum.princeton.edu/art/exhibitions/3331

First Roller Coaster

Today I was introduced to one of the earliest pictures of a roller coaster. It first appeared in Gaudia Poetica by Frederick Calvert, sixth Baron Baltimore, 1770 [at the bottom], but the better printing is eight years later in  John Glen King’s Letter to the Bishop of Durham, 1778 [at the top]. Here are some close-ups, along with a review of the book where it is found.

“The ingenious and learned Dr. King is guilty of what may be called literary teasing in his pamphlet, …But the description of the use of the flying mountains at Zarsko Sello, accompanied with an explanatory plate, is a greater curiosity than any we remember to have met with before, concerning this country. We cannot resist the temptation of giving the description, though it must appear imperfect without the plate, of which reason, we recommend the purchase of this very cheap publication.

‘Of all the winter diversions of the Russians the most favourite, and which is peculiar to them, seems to be that of siding down a hill. The late empress Elizabeth was so fond of this diversion, that, at her palace of Zarsko Sello, she had artificial mounts of a very singular construction, made for this purpose (of which I here give your lordship a plate.) These have been called by some Englishmen who have visited the spot, the Flying Mountains, and I do not know a phrase which approaches nearer to the Russian name.’

‘You will observe that there are five mounts of unequal heights; the first and highest is full thirty feet perpendicular altitude; the momentum with which they descend this, carries them over the second, which is about 5 or 6 feet lower, just sufficient to allow for the friction and resistance, and so on to the last, from which they are conveyed by a gentle descent, with nearly the same velocity, over a piece of water into a little island.’

‘These slides, which are about a furlong and a half in length, are made of wood, that they may be used in summer as well as in winter. The process is, two or four persons fit in a little carriage and one stands behind, for the more there are in it, the greater the swiftness with which it goes; it runs on castors and in grooves to keep it in its right direction, and it descends with a wonderful rapidity. Under the hills, is a machine worked by horses for drawing the carriages back again with the company in them. Such a work as this would have been enormous in most countries, for the labour and expense it cost, as well as the vast q1uantity of wood used in it.’” London Magazine, or, Gentleman’s Monthly intelligencer 47 (1778): 228-9.

John Glen King (1732-1787), A Letter to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Durham: containing some observations on the climate of Russia, and the northern countries, with a view of the Flying Mountains at Zarsko Sello near St. Petersbourg (London: Printed for J. Dodsley, 1778). RHT copy: Presentation copy to David Garrick with inscription by author. RHT 18th-339

Frederick Calvert, Sixth Baron Baltimore (1731-1771), Gaudia poetica: Latina, Anglica et Gallica lingua composita ao. 1769 (Augustae: Litteris Späthianis, 1770). Engravings by Hubert François Gravelot, Jeremias Wachsmuth and Jacob Wangner. Includes folding plate “The Flying Mountains,” a railway in Catherine the Great’s garden at Tsarskoe Selo. Ex Oversize 3617.235.1770


London Magazine article (1778) begins at XXVIII above and continues below

Prang’s American Chromos

Thanks to the recent donation by Hollie Powers Holt, we are the proud owners of a Louis Prang and Company chromolithograph after Benjamin Champney (1817-1907) entitled North Conway Meadows, 1870. The print is still in its original frame with the Prang stencil identification on the back, exactly as it would have been purchased and hung in the last quarter of the 19th century.

Benjamin Champney’s signature and date (1870) can be seen at the bottom right.
This print should not be confused with other similar harvest scenes by Champney. The best place to double check is the hay in the center, which in this view is already on the cart.


Louis Prang Company after Benjamin Champney (1817-1907), North Conway Meadows, ca. 1870. Varnished and framed chromolithograph on canvas. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process. Gift of Hollie Holt.

See another: https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2013/12/20/is-it-a-painting-or-a-print/





Alexandra Exter (1882-1949), Design for two theater costumes [possible design for the ballet Don Juan], ca. 1927. Pencil, watercolor, gouache on paper. Presented by Simon Lissim. RBSC Theater Collection – in process

Among a group of drawings being conserved and rehoused, this design was discovered that may have been created for the production of Don Juan given by Anna Pavlova’s company at the Opernhaus, Cologne in 1927.


The Oxford Art biography lists Exter as a “Russian painter and designer of Polish birth.” After traveling to Paris in 1908, she “became acquainted with Picasso, Braque, Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob and with the Italian Futurists Filippo Marinetti, Giovanni Papini and Ardengo Soffici (with whom she shared a studio in 1914) . . . In 1924 Exter emigrated and settled in Paris, teaching with Fernand Léger and in her own studio.

. . . [Exter] worked extensively in the theatre and continued to experiment, beginning, at this time, to make inventive theatrical puppets. In 1929 she used tubes of light to create an elegant, almost dematerialized spatial setting for the ballet Don Juan . . . .”

The drawing comes into the department thanks to Exter’s colleague and biographer Simon Lissim (1900-1981). Raymond Lister described Lissim, “who belonged unmistakably to the twentieth century, was nevertheless a modern example of Renaissance man, for his achievements were spread over a wide spectrum with theatrical décor at one end and porcelain designs at the other. Between were paintings in gouache and scraperboard, and designs for crystal, cutlery and jewelry.”

Around 1941, Lissim settled in New York City and was appointed head of the Art Education Project in the New York Public Library, later joining City University of New York as a Professor in Art History.

See also:
Simon Lissim (1900-1981), Simon Lissim [with] Raymond Cogniat, Georges Lechevallier-Chevignard, Louis Réau (Paris: Éditions du Cygne, 1933). Illustrations include 16 color plates rendered by the pochoir process. Princeton copy is no. 35 in the Charles Rahn Fry Pochoir Collection. Graphic Arts Collection Oversize 2003-0377Q

O heart take notice! A transformation letter

Letter completely folded. Possible translation: A letter to me and you is easy to give. The postage is low, accept it eagerly. The content is about you, me, and everyone; the places we go, that is and means, O heart take notice!

First unfold

Second unfold

Third unfold

Side one

Side two

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired this religious transformation letter, divided into nine panels each front and back, with rhyming couplets to match the engraved illustrations.

Scenes include Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden; the crucifixion; and an overall message of the transience of life. The work is described in the August 2, 1835 issue of the Allgemeine Kitchenzeitung,  where it is called a wonderful new invention. The author writes, in part:

… Now you lift the lower and last cover of the letter, the same figures appeared, from the head to the loins in the same clothing, but from then on to the feet as the most hideous skeletons, with a few Symbols that are supposed to reinforce fear in the mind and imagination. For example, with a corpse lying in a coffin, eaten by greedy snakes seen everywhere …

Rare Books and Special Collections holds a number of similar books and prints–sometimes called Harlequinades or Turn-Ups or Metamorphosis or Transformation books–but this might be the first one in German. The English and French examples are much earlier. See a few more: https://www.princeton.edu/~graphicarts/2010/03/metamorphosis_cards.html. See also Cotsen collection, Print case LA / Box 11465710.


Ein Brief an mich und Dich ist cito abzugeben. Das Porto ist gering, nimm ihn begierig an. Der Inhalt zielt auf Dich auf mich und Jedermann, der Ort wohin her soll, der ist und heisst, O Herz merk’s eben!. [No Place, no printer, 1835]. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process

More Books with Money

Thanks to those who responded with suggestions about where to find money in books. Dimitri Gondicas, Stanley J. Seeger Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies, The Council of the Humanities, and Lecturer in Classics at Princeton University pointed to this volume with 24 banknotes mounted on 9 pages. “The banknotes inside,” he writes, “are testimony of the rampant inflation during the WWII German Occupation of Greece.”

The anonymous author writes: “For us Greeks and the future generations the collection of bank notes and paper money put into circulation by the Italians and Germans will be a horrible nightmare and an uncontradicted proof of the hardships that our cruelly tried country has gone through. The Institute of Mining Credit worked out this collection as a symbol for one of Greece’s most heroic eras, which rivals its previous ones in magnitude. This collection represents one of the most important financial events of the most devastating war the world has ever gone through.”

Unfortunately, the bank notes are so gently tipped into the volume, many are already beginning to separate from the page. All except the final example are legitimate and rare.


Oikonomikē syntrivē tēs Hellados, Aprilios 1941-Noemvrios 1944 = Financial Breakdown of Greece, April 1941-November 1944 (Athens, Greece: The Establishment of Mining Credit Corporation, Scientific Section–Historical Collections, [1945?]). 2nd ed. At head of title: Hotan hoi Nazi kataktoun = When the Nazis conquer. On cover: Oikonomika gegonota tou deuterou Pankosmiou Polemou = Financial Facts of the World War II. Ex 2014-0277Q