Category Archives: Acquisitions

new acquisitions

The War of the Worlds

In 1904, Henrique Alvim Corrêa (1876-1910), a relatively unknown Brazilian artist living and working in Belgium, took a group of drawings to London and showed them to H.G. Wells (1866-1900). Alvim Corrêa’s work was inspired by the author’s 1897 story entitled “The War of the Worlds” and with no further information or persuasion, Wells commissioned him to illustrate a deluxe, limited edition of the novel. Over the next two years, Alvim Corrêa completed 32 drawing for the book published in 1906. The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired one of the 500 rare copies of this illustrated book.

“The War of the Worlds” first appeared in Pearson’s Magazine [seen above] serialized from April to December 1897, together with illustrations by Warwick Goble (1862-1943), best known today for his fairy tales and other children’s books. The two versions are quite similar.

Eighty years ago, Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre radio hour performed a Halloween adaptation of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, which many listeners took as fact and panicked. A reporter (Orson Welles) told the audience that something had fallen or landed in Grover’s Mill (just east of the Princeton Junction train station) and over the next hour it was discovered that giant Martian war machines were attacking the United States. Today, a carved stone marks the site of the fictional landing.

H. G. Wells (1866-1946), La guerre des mondes. Traduit de l’anglais par Henry-D. Davray. édition illustreé par Alvim-Corrêa (Bruxelles: Vandamme & Co., 1906). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process


Peter Coffin’s Spiral Rainbow

The spiral as a conceptual archetype is a recurring theme in the work of the American artist Peter Coffin, such as in his 2006 commission for Peter Norton’s annual Christmas gifts. Taking the format of a common photograph album, Coffin organized a series of postcards depicting rainbows into a three-dimensional spiral forming one enormous rainbow. As you open this volume, the constellation of cards expands in an upward swirl of color and form.

The artist commented, “There is a tendency to clutter things up, to try and make sure people know something is art, when all that’s necessary is to present it, to leave it alone. I think the hardest thing to do is to present an idea in the most straightforward way. I think it was Jasper Johns who said that, “[It’s] sometimes necessary to state the obvious.” Still, how to proceed is always the mystery. I remember at one point thinking that someday I would figure out how to do this, how you do art — like “What’s the procedure here, folks?” — and then it wouldn’t be such a struggle anymore. Later I realized I would never have a specific process; I would have to re-invent it, over and over again.”

The Coffin project is the gift of James Welling, Lecturer with the rank of Professor in the Visual Arts program in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University. In turn, it was the gift of the Peter Norton Family, who each year commission a work of art to celebrate the holiday season.

Peter Coffin (born 1972), Norton Family Christmas Project ([Santa Monica, Calif.]: [Peter Norton Family], [2006]). 1 photograph album. Gift of James Welling. Graphic Arts Collection in process.

Ellsworth Kelly’s Un Coup de dés

When publisher Sidney Shiff commissioned Ellsworth Kelly to select a text and create prints for a Limited Editions Club book, Kelly chose to match his black and white lithographs with Un coup de dés by Stéphane Mallarmé, one of the most famous poems of the 19th century. In its 63rd year, the Club was publishing only three or four titles each year in editions of 300, unlike the earlier runs of 2,000 under George Macy. This allowed Shiff to work with outstanding artists and create some of the most beautiful books of the late 20th and early 21st century.

Published in the original French and the original page design, Kelly integrated his eleven lithographs with the text, accentuating the open white space of both text and images. A separate booklet with Daisy Aldan’s English language translation is included: mallarme

“A throw of the dice never even when cast in eternal circumstances at the heart of a shipwreck let it be that the Abyss whitened slack raging under an incline desperately soars by its own wing…”


Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898) and Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015), Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard ([New York]: Limited Editions Club, 1992). Text printed at Wild Carrot Letterpress and lithographs printed at Trestle Editions. Copy 71 of 300. Original black goatskin, in black solander box. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process.

Hard Werken

Two years ago, an exhibition was mounted to celebrate the brief run of the visual art, music, and literature magazine Hard Werken, which made an impact on the typographic artists in The Netherlands and throughout Europe and the United States. The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a rare complete run of the title. Here is a statement from Rotterdam curators Reyn van der Lugt and Marjolein van de Ven:

Between 1979 and 1982, only ten editions of this cultural magazine were published, yet it had a significant influence on a whole generation of graphic designers in the Netherlands and beyond. … The striking A3 format, its anarchic design contrary to typographic currents, the focus on photography, and its changing group of contributors for each edition–-mainly from the visual arts and literature–-immediately characterised this new initiative as a brash, elusive, and distinctly Rotterdam phenomenon.–

Hard Werken was founded by the Rotterdam designers Willem Kars, Gerard Hadders, Rick Vermeulen, Henk Elenga and Ton van der Haspel in 1979, who had all been students at the Rotterdam Academy of Arts. They met through the Graphic Workshop, an initiative of the Rotterdam art foundation and joined with the poet Jules Deelder, photographer Henk Tas, the music club Arena, and Uitgeverij 101 to publish a magazine that represented the new cultural scene of their time and place.

The magazine was characterized by experiments with typography, photography, and illustration inspired from contemporary films, music, theater and painting. Although each designer worked individually, by 1980 the artists decided to focus on design as a group, known as Hard Werken Design.

For the next dozen years, Vermeulen, Hadders, Van den Haspel and Kars accepted all types of graphic design jobs including advertising, packaging, and interior design as well as posters, magazines, and music covers. According to interviews, “everyone was free to accept assignments. In case Hard Werken was approached for an assignment, it was discussed who would do the assignment.”

Although it is hard to see here, one of the interesting graphic features of Hard Werken was the integration of off-set printing with actual tipped in photographs and other hand-written elements. It was the extra-time and expense of this hand work that made the magazine unable to continue after ten issues.

Britannia Set Me Free

Thanks to Steven Knowlton, Librarian for History and African American Studies, the Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired this oval framed plaque with a wax figure of a crouching slave in chains appealing to the representation of Britannia, with “Britannia set me free” lettered above the slave and a ship in background. The interior measures 90 by 90 mm, painted on ceramic or ivory with gilt mount, all in a contemporary turned wooden frame. [Great Britain, ca. 1830].

Quote taken from the dealer’s catalogue:

The image adapts the iconic design of the crouching figure with the motto “Am I not a man and a brother” first produced as a jasperware medallion by Wedgwood in 1787-88. The formation of Thomas Clarkson’s Committee for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1787, “marked the transition of what had hitherto been the Quaker cause of abolition into a national, even an international movement. The emblem of the campaign–designed by the master potter Josiah Wedgwood, a committed supporter–was an inspired piece of propaganda, worthy of the Roman Church, or of a modern political party” (Thomas). The image had an immediate impact–women wore the medallions as necklaces or transformed them into bracelets, pins, or brooches to identify themselves with the abolitionist cause.

The image also appeared on the title-page of works written in support of the abolitionist cause. After Wilberforce’s Bill to abolish the slave trade finally passed in 1807, activists turned their attention to the abolition of slavery and the image of the of the enchained, crouching slave was adapted for a new use. Now the image came to symbolize slavery generally and in the framed plaque, the crouching slave implores Britannia, a personification of the British nation, to set him free. The ship in the background may be a slave ship, and if so would allude to the earlier triumph of the campaign to abolish the slave trade and hint that a similar result awaits the anti-slavery campaign.

In the sky between the motto “BRITANNIA SET ME FREE” and standing Britannia, is the ever-open-eye, which symbolises the omniscience of God. The symbol reminds the viewer that God knows of all the injustices perpetrated by man and subtly suggests that the viewer is complicit in the injustice if he or she doesn’t act against it. There are a number of different versions of this wall plaquette. In one the frame is alabaster rather than wood–see the example residing at the Hull Museum [accession number KINCM: 2006.3747]. In others the visual layout of the scene is slightly different i.e. in one the figure has a white loincloth and the motto is more circular. The wall plaques were produced up until parliament passed the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833.

See also: Hugh Thomas, The Slave Trade, London, 2006, p.492.

What the Moon Let Me See

Peter Lyssiotis, What The Moon Let Me See (Melbourne: Masterthief, 2017). Copy 3 of 10. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process

Colophon: “What the Moon Let Me See has been made from what I recall of my father, my love affair with Federico Garcia Lorca, and a recollection of hearing for the first time, the Neville Brothers singing ‘Yellow Moon’. The book was commissioned by Deakin University and completed in 2017. My original photomontages were adapted by Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper using a pin hole camera. Rod Davies did the pre press work and contributed to the layout of the book. The book has been printed by Momento Pro on Cotton Rag paper. The binding in quarter leather is by SB Libris.”

“The image of the author, on the way home, aged 70 five years after first being posted as the inaugural ‘Sold the Dummy’ visual essay. The images and text are intended to sway the mind of visitors. The following images were processed with a pin hole camera, the most primitive, analogue form of technological imagery. Photographic paper sits at the back of a black box. Light pierces the pinhole. The image reproduced appears upside down. The edges blur easily. The promise often lies in the visitor refocusing …

When the first cherries appear make sure you pop one into the mouth, then close your eyes. This is how to best understand the taste of the cherry. It seems odd. Only when we close the eyes can we begin to understand more. And as the the moon begins to shift towards its next phase it burns a shape onto the ground in front of the visitor, leaving a massive impression on the rocky ground.”–Peter Lyssiotis

Johann Ehrenfried Weishaupt, ten years a slave in Tunisia

On the title page of this 1812 ballad is a woodcut depicting six Germans pulling a plough while turbaned slave owners harass them. In the top right, a nobleman pays for their release, including Johann Ehrenfried Weishaupt who might be the one slave with a different hat.

Beschreibung der sechs deutschen Sklaven oder Handwerksburschen welche in der Tunischen Sklaverey über 10 Jahr am Pfluge haben ziehen muessen, worunter auch Johann Ehrenfried Weishaupt ein Schornsteingfegers-Gesell aus Lygnitz, dessen ganzer Lebenlauf allhier in einem Lied von 25 Versen … [The Description of Six German Slaves or Craftsmen Who Had to Pull on the Plow in Tunisian Slavery For Over 10 Years, Among Them Johann Ehrenfried Weishaupt a [?Schornsteingfegers-Gesell] from Lygnitz, Whose Whole Life Is Told Here in a Song With 25 Verses …] Reutlingen, bey Christoph Philipp Fischer, 1812. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a very rare first edition of this ballad, which we are told was performed at fairs singing to the tune of Als einstens Herr Merkurius. The anonymous author used as his source text the self-published story of the apprentice chimney sweep Johann Ehrenfried Weishaupt who was abducted and spent ten years as a slave in Tunisia before being freed by a Maltese nobleman, returning to his native village in Silesia. The source text is also very rare: Beweinungswürdige Schicksale Johann Ehrenfried Weishaupt aus Liegnitz in Schlesien. Von ihm selbst aufgesetzt, first published 1789, with a second edition in 1795. No copies can be found in the United States.

Th printed ballad is also a type of acrostic, with the first letter of each of the 25 verses spelling out Johann Ehrenfried Weishaupt’s name, the subject of the narrative.


The pamphlet has a long printed note at end, which tells the reader that when he returned, Weishaupt set up a small cabinet in his father’s house with the curiosities from his time in the Middle East: an ostrich egg; a large sea shell; a large spider crab; a ‘Tunisian’ nut from which the Turks derive color; a basket woven from sugar cane; the shell of a large scorpion; the curiously shaped spoon from which he ate while in captivity; and the curiously shaped metal hat he was forced to wear. I’m told the curiosity cabinet can still be inspected but I haven’t been able to find a reference online.

Stories in stereo

Unidentified photographer, The Ghost in the Stereoscope, ca. 1865. Published by the London Stereoscope and Photographic Company after a suggestion by Sir David Brewster. Two albumen prints in stereo-format, hand-tinted. Title: “Kindly suggested by Sir David Brewster, K. H. [entered at Stationers’ Hall” on verso. A dramatic view of the late Mr Stubbs haunting the new occupant of his house. The graffiti on the walls reads: “Mr Stubbs his cottage his picter” and “Mr Stubbs erd.” Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process


The Graphic Arts Collection has acquired several British stereoviews, each providing a narrative through a single 3D image. Some relate to major literary sources and others minor stories. Here are some examples:


[below] Unidentified photographer, Gambler’s Ghost, ca. 1865. Published by the London Stereoscope and Photographic Company. Two albumen prints in stereo-format, hand-tinted. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process

[Above] Alfred Silvester, Little Nell. Vide – ‘Old Curiosity Shop’ by Charles Dickens, 1870s-1880s. Two albumen prints in stereo-format. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process


[Below] Unidentified photographer, Haidee and Juan, Canto 2nd, 1870s-1880s. Two albumen prints in stereo-format, hand-tinted. Titled on small printed label pasted to verso with copyright note:  A passionate moment between Juan and the pirate’s daughter Haidée, before she dies of a broken heart and Don Juan is sold into slavery. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process

Daniel Defoe (1661?-1731), The Life and Strange Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: Who Lived Eight and Twenty Years Alone in an Uninhated [Sic] Island On the Coast of America, Near the Mouth of the Great River Oroonoque: Having Been Cast on Shore by Shipwreck, Wherein All the Men Perished But Himself: With an Account How He Was At Last Strangely Delivered By Pyrates Written By Himself ([London: s.n.], 1719-[1720]). RHT Oversize 18th-955

Lake Price, Robinson Crusoe and Friday, 1870s-1880s Two albumen prints, hand-tinted, in stereo-format. Title and credit on printed label pasted to verso, with Dublin art shop ‘Lesage’ label on verso. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process



Sir John Everett Millais Bt PRA (1829-96), My Second Sermon, 1864. Oil on canvas. Guildhall Art Gallery, London.


[below] After Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896), Unidentified photographer. First time at Church. The Litany, no date [after 1864]. Two albumen prints in stereo-format, hand-tinted. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process

[Above] Unidentified photographer, Cinderella and her Godmother, 1870s-1880s Two albumen prints in stereo-format, hand-tinted. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process




The Graphic Arts Collection holds a folder with 23 watercolor and gouache costume studies with ink lettering on tan paper. The only identification is a pencil note on the back in French, indicating they are from an album. No artist signature or stamp can be found although it is possible they have some connection with Octavien Dalvimart’s six volumes of The Costume of Turkey drawn from life in 1798. Here are the French titles in English:
Muslim Arab woman in the vicinity of Nablus [North of Jerusalem]
Vulgar odalisques
Christian woman from Jerusalem going out into the street
First walk of a new wife after marriage in Ramleh
Muslim Arabic woman in [?Beitjibrim]
Abyssinian selling parakeets in Cairo
Poor Christian in Nazareth
Rich Muslim in Aleppo
Rich Muslim in Damascus
Abyssinian odalisque
Muslim peasant from northern Egypt
Oriental odalisque dancer seen in Beirut
Christian woman from Mount Lebanon
Slave of rich house in Damascus
Young bride from Morocco
Rich Abyssinian living in Cairo, Egypt
Bedouin woman from Kerak
Armenian woman going out on the street
Rich Christian from Egypt
Muslim peasant from South Hebron
Peasant woman from Southern Egypt
Rich Muslim in the interior of a harem
Muslim Arab women crying at the shrine in Yuzur

Clavé’s Gargantua

François Rabelais (approximately 1490-1553), Gargantua. Illustrated by Antoni Clavé ([Marseille]: Les Bibliophiles de Provence, 1955). No. 33 of 220 copies printed by Priester freres in Paris. 61 original color lithographs (including 4 double-page and 15 single-page, all hors-texte) + 61 original color woodcuts for lettrines and cul-de-lampe. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018-in process

”… Gargantua (Rabelais), a work to which Clavé brought all his inventiveness of design. Apart from the brilliant color combinations (some involving five to eight separate stones)… Clavé devised a large number of initial letters… Certainly this book lives up to Rabelais’s exhortation ”Vivez joyeux”; it is also Gargantuan in scale with its format”.  [Strachan goes on declaring this work as sequel to Derain’s Pantagruel]. Strachan The Artist & The Book in France, pp. 146 & 329.

The artist is not well known and so, here is an extended biography,

Antoni Clavé was born in Barcelona in 1913. At 13 years of age, and seeking employment, he is hired as an assistant in a textile shop for girdles and corsets. At the same time, he signs up for evening classes at the annex to the Escuela de Artes y Oficios Artísticos y Bellas Artes. As an apprentice house painter with Tolosa, he is attracted by the manual aspect of the work (distemper, primer, glues, and later the mixing of colors). …In April 1940, there is an exhibition at the « Au Sans Pareil » bookstore which is not very successful. In June, the Germans are at Paris’ gates. Clavé intends to leave Paris to make his way to Venezuela but the German tanks have already cut off the roadways and he is obliged to turn back. In 1941, Clavé moves into his first atelier at number 45, rue Boissonnade. His son Jacques is born in 1942 and his own mother moves to Paris. This is an intimate and introspective period for his work where he is influenced by Bonnard and Vuillard. The following year he produces the lithographs as illustrations for Lettres d’Espagne by Prosper Mérimée. In 1944 Clavé meets Picasso, and this encounter will have profound repercussions that will be decisive for the future of his art. His work is exhibited at the Galerie Henri Joly.

In 1946, he travels to Czechoslovakia for an exhibition of Spanish painters in Paris, among whom are Picasso, Borès, Dominquez, Florès, Lobo and Fenosa. He begins work on major set decoration and costumes for the ballet: Los Caprichos for the Ballets des Champs-Elysées (Paris, 1946), Carmen for the Ballets de Paris Roland Petit (Paris, 1949) and Ballabile for Sadler’s Welles Ballet (Covent Garden, London, 1950). His work is also to be found in many illustrated books: La Dame de Pique by Pouchkine and Carmen by Prosper Mérimée in 1946; Voltaire’s Candide in 1948; Gargantua by Rabelais in 1950. This work inspires new subjects and series: The King of Cards, Figures of the Middle Ages and Warriors. Many exhibitions follow: at the Galerie Delpierre in Paris in 1946, at the Anglo-French Art Centre of London in 1947, in 1948 at the Galerie Robert Martin in Oran, Algeria, at Malmö in 1949 and Göteborg, Sweden in 1950.

In 1951, he exhibits at the Galerie Witcomb in Buenos Aires, and in Rome at the Galleria dell’Obelisco, followed by the Galerie Drouant-David in Paris in 1953, at the Galleria del Sole in Milan in 1954 and in London at the Tooth Gallery in 1955. His creations for the theatre are an essential part of his work at this time: La maison de Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia Lorca, Festival de Biarritz and the Théâtre de l’Œuvre, Paris, 1951; Revanche, Ballet by Ruth Page, Chicago Opera Ballet, 1951; Don Perlimplin, by Federico García Lorca, Festival du XXe siècle, Paris, 1952 ; Les Noces de Figaro, by Mozart, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, 1952 ; Deuil en 24 heures, Ballets de Roland Petit, Paris, 1953. In 1954, Clavé decides to abandon theatre design in order to devote himself to his painting. His final decorative work will be for the set and costumes for La Peur, a ballet by Roland Petit.

See also: