Category Archives: Illustrated books

illustrated books

Artists of “Opportunity”

The artists of Opportunity, the monthly publication of the National Urban League edited by Charles S. Johnson, were always identified in the table of contents but almost never given further biographical details in magazine’s “Who’s Who” or other text. Here are some of the leading graphic artists from the late 1920s, before photography took over. Perhaps not surprisingly, some were Black and some White. Covers are printed on a tan stock that photographed grey here.

 

Winold Reiss, “Langston Hughes,” Opportunity 5, no. 3 (March 1927).
Winold Reiss (1886–1953) No information is provided by Opportunity, even in “Who’s Who.” A White German American artist, Winold Reiss arrived in New York City in 1913, where he soon began creating sensitive representations of African Americans and Native Americans. “Reiss’s depictions avoided the racist stereotypes common at the time.” Along with his student Aaron Douglas, Reiss illustrated The New Negro: An Interpretation, a collection of Harlem literary works by Alain Leroy Locke, the first African American Rhodes scholar.—Details from National Portrait Gallery.

 

 

Aaron Douglas, [Untitled], Opportunity 5, no. 5 (May 1927).
Aaron Douglas (1899-1979). “Douglas arrived in Harlem shortly after the publication of what was immediately recognized as a landmark publication: the March 1925 issue of Survey Graphic titled, “Harlem: Mecca for the New Negro” [later published in The New Negro]. … [In New York, he studied] with German émigré artist Fritz Winold Reiss… and Du Bois, who gave him a job in the mail room of The Crisis. In 1927 … Douglas to join the staff of The Crisis as their art critic… and …illustrated God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse by James Weldon Johnson. Douglas became chairman of the art department at Fisk University while also remaining active in Harlem.—”Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist,” ed. Susan Earle (2007).

 

 

Aaron Douglas, [Untitled], Opportunity 5, no. 7 (July 1927).

 

 

Charles Cullen, “A Copper Sun,” Opportunity 5, no. 9 (September 1927).
Charles Cullen (born 1887). A White Irish American artist, influenced by Aubrey Beardsley, Cullen illustrated many of Countee Cullen’s early poetry books. These designs are often repeated in the magazines or advertisements of the period. “Countee Cullen tells an interesting tale about how the father of Charles Cullen is always interested in anyone whose name is Cullen…it was in this way that he came to buy Color, Countee Cullen’s first book, the which he sent to his son Charles…it later developed that Charles was an artist… hence these very beautiful drawings which he did for Countee Cullen’s book…and truly they are lovely to behold!” Opportunity September 1927, p. 277.

 

 

Charles Cullen, [Untitled], Opportunity 6, no. 2 (February 1928).

 

 

James L. Wells, [Untitled], Opportunity 6, no. 4 (April 1928).
James Lesesne Wells (1902-1993). Described in Opportunity as a “Young Negro artist living in Buffalo.” Wells studied in New York City at Teachers College and the National Academy of Design, where the owner of the New Art Circle Gallery, J.B. Neumann, saw his work and included him in the “International Modernists” exhibition in 1929. Wells became a crafts instructor at Howard University, teaching block printing, ceramics, clay modeling, and sculpture. He also developed professional and personal relationships with Alain Locke, historian Carter G. Woodson, and later, Stanley Hayter, while further developing his printmaking skills at Hayter’s Atelier 17.

 

 

Albert A. Smith, “Ethiopia–A Fantasy,” Opportunity 6, no. 6 (June 1928).
Albert Alexander Smith (1896-1940), Listed in Opportunity as “A young Negro artist now on a visit in this country from Paris where he has resided for the past seven years.” Smith was the first African American to win a scholarship to the High School of Ethical Culture and the first African American to study at the National Academy of Design. In 1920 his work was published in Crisis, shortly before he left the United States to live permanently in Europe. Often sending work back to the States, he continued to publish in Opportunity and elsewhere but died suddenly in France only forty-four years old.

 

 

James Lesesne Wells, [Untitled], Opportunity 6, no. 7 (July 1928).

 

 

Lois Jones, [Untitled], Opportunity 6, no. 8 (August 1928).
Lois Jones (1905-1998). Opportunity described her as “A promising young artist living in Boston.” In 1928 Jones formed and chaired the art department at the Palmer Memorial Institute in North Carolina, and two years later was recruited to teach at Howard University in Washington, D.C., [where she] taught design and watercolor painting for the next forty-seven years…. In 1937 Jones received a year-long fellowship that took her to Paris to live and work. This was a defining moment for the young black artist who experienced—for the first time in her life—the complete freedom to live as she wished without the indignities of segregation that she felt in the United States.”—Phillips Collection.
“In 1941, Jones entered her painting “Indian Shops Gay Head, Massachusetts” into the Corcoran Gallery’s annual competition. At the time, the Corcoran Gallery prohibited African-American artists from entering their artworks themselves. Jones had [a White artist] Céline Marie Tabary enter her painting to circumvent the rule. Jones ended up winning the Robert Woods Bliss Award for this work of art, yet she could not pick up the award herself. Tabary had to mail the award to Jones. …In 1994, the Corcoran Gallery of Art gave a public apology to Jones at the opening of the exhibition The World of Lois Mailou Jones, 50 years after Jones hid her identity.” –Karla Araujo, “Against All Odds,” Martha’s Vineyard Magazine.

 

 

D. Edouard Freeman, [Untitled], Opportunity 6, no. 9 (September 1928).
The artist is listed in Opportunity as an “Instructor in drawing at Tuskegee.” Nothing else is known.

 

 

Lois Jones, [Untitled], Opportunity 6, no. 10 (October 1928).

 

 

Also included: Cornelius Marion Battey (1873-1927). Many of the early cover designs for Opportunity were created by photographer C.M. Battey, who, in his last years of life, turned to pen and brush. A short obituary is printed in Opportunity, May 1927, p. 126. Battey moved from Cleveland to New York City “where for six years he was superintendent of the Bradley Photographic Studio on Fifth Avenue. He went to work at the city’s most famous photographic company, Underwood and Underwood, where he was put in charge of the retouching department. Battey finally got the opportunity to work on his own. With a partner he opened the Battey and Warren Studio in New York. …Battey was one of the best pictorialists in New York City.

His work led him into a valuable friendship with black author and educator W. E. B. DuBois, one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). DuBois was also editor of the NAACP’s official magazine, The Crisis. Soon Battey’s portraits of well-known black leaders were appearing regularly on the covers of The Crisis. In 1916, Battey was invited to take over the photography department of the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama [where] Battey not only taught photography but also chronicled in pictures the life of the campus.” – Black Artists in Photography (1840-1940) by George Sullivan.

Charles Cullen

Born on December 19, 1887, in LeRoy, New York (southwest of Rochester), surprisingly little is known about the American artist Charles Cullen. Here are a few more details. His father, Matthew Cullen, was born in Ireland in 1854 and moved to New York where he married a Canadian-born girl named Ellen. As the sixth of seven children, Charles was nearly 5-years-old when the family moved to Adelphi Street in Brooklyn so his father could take a job as an engineer. “Tall and blond with blue eyes” was what his WWI draft card said, excusing him from service due to poor eye sight. By 1917, he was living on East 31st Street, working as an artist at 1441 Broadway, possibly making designs the Hartford Textile Company in that building.

Around this time, Charles Cullen met the African American writer, performer, artist Bruce Nugent (1906-1987), who worked as a bellhop at the Martha Washington Hotel near Charles’ apartment. Bruce was gregarious and openly gay, while Charles was much more conservative with his sexuality (Bruce later called him insipid) but the two hit it off since they were both aspiring painters. It was certainly through Bruce that Charles began to make contact with members of the Harlem Renaissance. They collaborate several times, most notably with Aaron Douglas on the illustrations for Ebony and Topaz, A Collectanea (1927), an anthology of prose and poetry published by Opportunity magazine.

According to Gwendolyn Bennett (Opportunity September 1927), it was Matthew Cullen who gave his son a poetry book by Countee Cullen (1903-1946) entitled Color (1925). Written while still in school, Countee finished his master’s degree at Harvard and then, moved back to New York City. Charles arranged an introduction to the young Black poet, who strangely had the same family name, and showed him some drawings he had made styled after Aubrey Beardsley’s erotic black and white designs. Enticed, Countee arranged to have Charles illustrate his next book, Copper Sun (1927), followed by The Ballad of the Brown Girl (1927), an illustrated second edition of Color (1928), and The Black Christ and Other Poems (1929).

At this point, Charles and Countee end their literary partnership. This may have had something to do with the artist’s next project, privately printed for Rarity Press, which was Dialogues of the Courtesans, an illustrated collection of erotic texts by Lucian of Samosata, with chapters that include “The Pleasure of Being Beaten,” “The Terror of Marriage,” and “The Lesbians,” among others. Another overtly sexual volume appeared in 1933, when Charles selected and illustrated sections of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, with an introduction by Sherwood Anderson. Charles received only one more commission, illustrating Contemporary American Men Poets in 1937 and then work dried up.

Three years later, when Charles filled out the 1940 census form, he had been without work for 156 weeks, living with a young social worker named Torlyn Perstholdt. Little else is known about Charles Cullen’s later years. A small illustrated “Life of Christ” published out of Nashville, Tennessee, must have helped pay the rent. When he died, there was no obituary.

Louis XIV Performs Apollo


 

 

Giacomo Torelli (1608-1678), Scene e machine preparate alle Nozze di Teti, balletto reale representato nella sala del piccolo Borbone (Paris, 1654). Bound with: Giacomo Torelli (1608-1678) and Giulio Strozzi (1583-1652), Feste theatrali per la Finta Pazza drama del Sig. Giulio Strozzi. Rappresentate nel piccolo Borbone in Parigi quest’anno 1645 (Paris, 1645). Text in French and Italian. Provenance: From the library of the late-eighteenth-century Milanese engineer Giacomo Antonio Besana. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

Together with the Marquand Art and Archaeology Library, the Graphic Arts Collection acquired a first edition of this royal ballet, staged for Cardinal Mazzarino (1602-1661) with the participation of Louis XIV (1638-1715, King of France 1643-1715). Detailed plans for the inventive staging are by Giacomo Torelli (1608-1678), one of the most talented Baroque theater designers. This variant B edition in an early vellum binding retains two additional leaves with Torelli’s verses “Per la ricreazione e fuoco di Gioia,” engraved title page, plus the five folding double plates. Many pages are uncut.

 

 

Copying the dealer’s note in full:

In 1645, Torelli arrived in Paris and directed the refurbishment of the Palais Royal, the theatre built by Cardinal Richelieu. There he staged several appreciated performances, winning over not only the title of “Grand Sorcier”, but also the patronage of Cardinal Mazzarino. This famous “Noces de Pèlee et de Thétis” were staged by Torrelli in 1645, at the Petit Bourbon, with King Louis XIV dancing the role of Apollo. The libretto was composed by Francesco Buti, the music by Carlo Caproli and the ballets by Isaac de Benserade. The lavish scenographic apparati are thoroughly documented in this book, which contains the preparatory plans attributed directly to Torelli by Bjustrom. The opening verses and the following eight descriptions were penned by the Friuli librettist Giovanni Battista Amalteo, active in Vienna. The remarkably neat engravings were made by Silvestre Israël (1621-1691) after François Francart (1622-1672).

The acclaimed performance remained memorable as one of the first in Paris to exploit such complex machinery, insomuch that this edition was commissioned to eternalise this very aspect of the play. The copy also retains Torrelli’s large and inventive plates related to Finta Pazza, another work staged at the Petit Bourbon in 1645. The play had already been hailed as a great success at the premiere in Venice on 14 February 1641, with music composed by Francesco Sacrati. One can find here the title-page and the plates of the first edition of Finta Pazza, which circulated independently from the libretto, as was the case of the copies recorded by Vinet. Likewise, Gourary’s copy is with no text and intriguingly bound together with the Nozze di Teti, also without text, and other 13 suites of French and Italian theatrical, architectural and garden ornament.

This acquisition can be studied in the Firestone Library Special Collections reading room, when it reopens.

 


Portrait of the author, Increase Mather

Robert White (1645-1703) after Jan van der Spriet (active 1690-1700), Crescentius Matherus [Portrait of Increase Mather], 1688. Engraving. Bound in: Increase Mather (1639-1723), The Life and Death of That Reverend Man of God, Mr. Richard Mather, Teacher of the Church in Dorchester in New-England : [seven lines of quotations] (Cambridge [Mass.]: Printed by S.G. and M.J. [i.e., Samuel Green and Marmaduke Johnson], 1670. William H. Scheide Library, 101.19

 

A few months ago, a live webinar was held to investigate the woodcut portrait of Richard Mather (1596-1669) by John Foster (1648-1681), recognized as the first cut printed on a European press in Colonial  America. The print is assumed to have been created in honor of Mather’s death around 1670. While Princeton University Library holds a copy of that print, in William Scheide’s copy of The Life and Death of That Reverend Man of God, Mr. Richard Mather someone has inserted an engraved portrait of the author, Increase Mather, rather than the woodcut.

Thanks to our digital studio, we now have a complete surrogate copy of the volume along with the engraving to study at home. https://catalog.princeton.edu/catalog/4696592

 

The Scheide volume has a dedication signed: Increase Mather. Boston N.E. Septemb. 6. 1670. The pasted in engraving holds the inscription: Crescentius Matherus. Aetatis Suae 49. 1688. Vanderspirit pinxit. R. White Sculp. Londini. This tells us that it was engraved by Robert White (1645-1703) after a drawing by Jan van der Spriet (active 1690-1700),

The portrait shows Increase Mather, aged 49, with long hair, wearing skull-cap and bands. According to Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society (1894), “Mather’s portrait was painted in 1688 [see below], during his visit to England, where, as an agent of the Massachusetts Colony, he had gone in the spring of that year. The artist was John vander Spriett, a Dutch mezzotint engraver of little note, who had studied under Verkolie at Amsterdam, where he had painted a few portraits. He afterward went to London, and died there about the year 1700.”

Presumably Dr. Mather, on his return home in the spring of 1692, brought back to Boston this painting of himself. Inasmuch as his eldest child, Dr. Cotton Mather, inherited the larger part of his estate, it is very likely that the picture passed into that son’s possession, and thence into the hands of his grandson Samuel. Within a few months after Dr. Mather’s portrait was painted in London, it was engraved by Robert White, an English artist of some note (born 1645, died 1704), who had made many other likenesses of distinguished persons.

It is a small copperplate engraving, about six inches by four in size, representing the bust in an oval frame, and the whole resting on a pedestal, and bears the legend “Crescentius Matherus. AEtatis Suae 49. 1688.” In the two lower corners, below the pedestal, are the following words, in small script: “Vanderspirit pinxit. R. White Sculp. Londini.” It is of excellent workmanship, the hatching is soft and delicate, and the handling of the hair graceful. While the engraver has taken some liberties in his production and has slightly changed the pose of the figure, it is evident that he followed this identical portrait.

https://www.masshist.org/database/3281

According to White’s biography written for the British Museum, the artist was the “foremost pupil of [David Loggan, 1634–1692], and inherited his position as the leading line-engraver for the print trade. His earliest print was made in 1666, and his last in 1702. His output was huge, and has never been fully catalogued. [George Vertue, 1684-1756]‘s list, reproduced by Walpole, has several hundred plates. Vertue got some information from White’s son, George: ‘Robert White Engraver did not only learn of Mr Loggan but from his infancy had an inclination to drawing & made essays in engraving and etching before he knew Loggan. He drew many buildings for Loggan & engrav’d, besides he imploy’d much of his time in drawing from the life black led upon vellum’”.

While most of White’s portraits are found as frontispieces, “A small number he published himself at his house in Bloomsbury Market …. He is said to have charged about £4 for a small plate, but up to £30 for a large one.”

 

Afrofuturism: The Graphics of Octavia E. Butler

Please join us for the latest in our series of live webinars highlighting Special Collections at Princeton University Library. This month focuses on speculative fiction, also called Afrofuturism, of Octavia E. Butler.

January 2020 brought the release of the much anticipated Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy and illustrator John Jennings, the follow-up to the no.1 New York Times bestseller Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by the same award-winning team. Butler’s groundbreaking dystopian novel offers a searing vision of America’s future. Set in the year 2024, Parable presents a country marred by unattended environmental and economic crises that lead to social chaos. Residents shelter indoors, warned against venturing outside into a world eerily similar to our contemporary COVID-19 existence.

Adapting Parable and Kindred to a graphic novel format is an astounding achievement and we are fortunate to have both Damian Duffy and John Jennings with us to discuss how they accomplished it. Their adaptations capture the energy and raw emotion of Butler’s prose with visual acrobatics and succinct verbal interchanges. Join this lively discussion with Graphic Arts Curator Julie Mellby, focusing on their graphic adaptations of classic literature, along with a look at their future projects.

REGISTER HERE

Date: Friday, July 31, 2020
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT
Location: Virtual

 

Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) was a renowned African-American author who was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work.

Damian Duffy is a cartoonist, scholar, writer, and teacher. He holds a MS and PhD in library and information sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is on faculty.

John Jennings is the newly appointed director of Megascope, Abrams ComicArt’s graphic imprint as well as a professor of media and cultural studies at the University of California, Riverside.

Anaïs Nin and Louise Bourgeois


(c) Museum of Modern Art. https://www.moma.org/collection/works/illustratedbooks/15383?locale=en

Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell (1903–1977), known professionally as Anaïs Nin (pronounced Ana East Neen) and Louise Joséphine Bourgeois (1911–2010) were two of the strongest, most self-sustaining women of the 20th century. Together they produced a stunningly beautiful image/text narrative, He Disappeared Into Complete Silence, although they may never have met.


As Nin was signing a contract with Dutton Publishers in 1946 and preparing to close Gemor Press, where she and Gonzalo More had been hand-printing books since 1942, she expected to publish only one more title. A large folio edition of her House of Incest, which appeared in Paris in 1936 under the imprint Siana editions (Anais spelled backwards), was to be printed and published in a limited run of 50 copies. Then Stanley William Hayter (1901-1988), director of Atelier 17, the print workshop where Nin’s husband printed, walked in with another project.

Nin with Frances Steloff, at Gotham Book Mart

 

In the 1930s, Nin, her husband Hugh Guiler, More, Hayter, and Bourgeois were all living and working in Paris but when the city started mobilizing for war, they each made their separate ways to New York City. Just before leaving France, More worked with Hayter on Atelier 17’s limited edition Fraternity, which was completed in March of 1939.

When the Hayter’s studio reopened in New York, Guiler studied etching there and several of his wife’s hand-printed editions include her husband’s prints under the pseudonym Ian Hugo. Nin’s Diaries contain several mentions of Hayter stopping by Gemor Press on Macdougal Street or later 13th Street when they expanded their printing shop to include an etching press.

Nin credits Hayter with teaching her and More to print relief copperplate etchings and with bringing them work when they needed the money. There is never a mention of titles or publications, just the fact that he would bring work to their shop if an artist needed letterpress text with their fine art prints.

This might have been the case with Louise Bourgeois’s He Disappeared Into Complete Silent. There is no mention of Bourgeois in Nin’s Diaries, or of the project. Neither is Nin mentioned in Bourgeois sources. It is a tragedy the two never really collaborated. By this time, More had foolishly given away all the money needed to run the business and Nin had no choice but to close the door.

We would show more of the Gemor Press editions but someone has removed them from Firestone Library and the books will have to be replaced. Be careful when buying or selling these books to check for a Princeton property stamp inside.

 
In Paris
The House of Incest by Anaïs Nin. Paris: Siana éditions [1936].

The Winter of Artifice by Anaïs Nin. Paris; [printed in Belgium]: Obelisk Press, 1939.

Fraternity by Stephen Spender, translated by Louis Aragon. Paris: Stanley William Hayter, 1939). Text printed by Gonzalo More.

In New York City
Winter of Artifice by Anaïs Nin. Metal relief prints by Ian Hugo. [New York: Gemor Press], 1942. First edition 500 copies.

Four Poems by Sharon Vail. New York: Gemor Press, 1942.

Several Have Lived by Hugh Chisholm; Prints by André Masson. New York: Gemor Press, 1942.

Misfortunes of the Immortals by Max Ernst and Paul Éluard. Translated by Hugh Chisholm. New York: Black Sun Press (printed at the Gemor Press), 1943.

Alphabet du décor by Berthie Zilkha. pen drawings by Madison Wood. [New York: Gemor Press], 1944. 68 pages. Edition: 300

Ardentissima cura: a poem by Bernardo Clariana; translated by Dudley Fitts. New York: Gemor Press, 1st ed. 1944. [12] pages ; 22 cm. Edition: 400.

Ho! watchman of the night, ho! by Lee Ver Duft. New York: Gemor Press, 1944. 30 pages ; 23 cm. Edition: 300. Cover Art by Mastrofski.

Quinquivara by C. L. Baldwin; engravings by Ian Hugo. New York: Gemor Press, 1944.

Under a Glass Bell by Anaïs Nin. Line engravings on copper by Ian Hugo. [New York, Gemor Press, 1944]

This Hunger by Anaïs Nin; with five colored hand-pulled woodblocks by Ian Hugo. [New York] Gemor Press, 1945. [1]-183 [1] pages, 4 leaves woodblocks. 23.2 cm. Edition: 1000 copies and limited deluxe edition: 50 copies.

A Child Born Out of the Fog by Anaïs Nin. [New York], Gemor Press, 1946. 2 preliminary leaves, 1-6 pages, 1 leaf 20 cm.
A Child Born Out of the Fog by Anaïs Nin. [New York]: Gemor Press, 1947. 4 unnumbered pages, 6 pages, 2 unnumbered pages ; 19 cm. ?2nd edition?

Moods and Melodies by Henriette Reiss. New York: Gemor Press, 1946. 2nd ed.

Mujer, Estados Unidos de América: poema radiofónico by Tana De Gámez. New York: Gemor Press, 1946.

Nine Desperate Men by C. L. Baldwin. [New York] Gemor Press 1946.

Rendezvous with Spain: A poem by Bernardo Clariana: Translated by Dudley Fitts and illustrated by Julio de Diego. New York Gemor Press 1946. Edition: 520 copies (100 in black and white, 400 in color; 20 deluxe copies have been hand colored by the artist).

He Disappeared into Complete Silence by Louise Bourgeois. Introduction by Marius Bewley. New York: Atelier 17; Printer of text: Gemor Press, printer of images: Atelier 17, 1947.

House of Incest by Anaïs Nin. New York: Gemor Press, 1947. 43 cm. Linotype and etchings. Edition: 50.

Secret Journal of a Self-Observer


Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801), Secret Journal of a Self-Observer;or, Confessions and familiar Letters of the Rev. J. C. Lavater… Translated from the German Original, by the Rev. Peter Will, Minister of the Reformed German Chapel in the Savoy… (London: Printed for T. Cadell, Jun. andW. Davies (Successors to Mr. Cadell)… [1795]). Early ownership inscriptions, in ink and pencil, of Henrietta Siffken and with pencil notes throughout; with an original pen-and-ink drawing of Lavater bound in as a frontispiece, “given by his Son to Mrs C. Beazley.” Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process.

 

The first English translation of: Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801), Geheimes tagebuch von einem beobachter seiner selbst (Leipzig: Weidmanns erben und Reich, 1771-73) is notable for the pen and ink drawing on the frontispiece attributed to Johan Heinrich Lips (1758-1817) as well as for the text never meant to be widely circulated.

Preface of the translator:

“The present Translation, which originally was intended to be circulated only in manuscript, among some admirers of Mr. Lavater, would certainly never have been intruded on the Public, if the Translator were not fully persuaded, that its great utility will overbalance its many defects, and contribute to propagate piety and Religious prudence, for which purpose he recommends the perusal of it particularly to his congregation, who always have displayed the most laudable desire to improve in Christian knowledge and virtue. . .”

“…Mr. Lavater’s manner of expressing his ideas, being as extraordinary as his manner of thinking, those who are not intimately acquainted with the writings of this eccentric, but truly venerable man, will easily be induced to mistake for a foreign idiom what, in reality, is an idiom of the Author, and could not be exchanged for a genuine English one, as it is the peculiar characteristic which distinguishes his way of thinking.”

The Swiss minister Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801) was convinced that the science of physiognomy made it possible to know about a person’s interior self from their exterior body. This included both the physical skull itself and the visual representation of it. He published his beliefs in three major editions, Physiognomische fragmente (1775-78) RBSC Oversize 6453.568.15q, Essai sur la Physiognomonie (1781-1803), and Essays on Physiognomy (1788-99) GAX Oversize 2007-0002Q. Johan Heinrich Lips (1758-1817) was the principal engraver of the plates, working from his own drawings and after drawings by Georg Friedrich Schmoll. Lavater’s close friend Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) added a few illustrations and brought in the young William Blake (1757-1827) to complete a few additional plates.

William Blake, Johann Caspar Lavater, 1800. Engraving and etching. Graphic Arts Collection

 

Unfolding Digital Images

Folding plates are trouble in an all-digital world. The brief joy of finding a title through temporary access to Hathi Trust can be tempered when you get blank pages staring back at you instead of unfolded plates.

 

Princeton University’s library catalog offers 18 digital versions and/or editions of: A journey to Jerusalem, or, A relation of the travels of fourteen English-men in the year 1669 : from Scanderoon, to Tripoly, Joppa, Ramah, Jerusalem, Bethlem, Jericho, the River Jordan, the Dead Sea, and back again to Aleppo … London : Printed by T.M. for N. Crouch …, 1672, with its wonderful series of fold-out plates.Unfortunately, I was not able to find one copy that offered the plates unfolded, looking in google books, hathi trust, or several other platforms. While it is possible to access the engravings from museums that have removed them from the books, then you have the image without the text.

 

A class favorite is William Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty with two plates, usually front and back, folded multiple times to fit with the rest of the pages. Again, many museums have removed the plates and provide excellent digital access without the text but most online books either do not have the plates at all, or like ECCO, demand you look at the book at 10% of the original size, to see the entire print.The exception in this case is at Hathi Trust where you see the folded package and then, the opened image. Download this quickly before your one hour window is up.

 

There are a number of 19th-century journals that begin with a folded frontispiece, fun to teach with when you have the physical object. Finding a frontispiece in the all-digital world can itself be too daunting for most people. I had to look through a dozen or so issues before I found a few frontispieces in ProQuest., list under a title and interspersed with the articles/chapters.

The complete title of George Cruikshank’s satirical print seen above is Princely piety, or the worshippers at Wanstead. Here is the complete hand colored print in the British Museum:

One other option is offer, below, but is no better than the first.

 

So as not to only complain, here is a success story:

One example of beautifully handled folding plates comes from Princeton’s digital imaging studio, managed by Roel Munoz, whose staff captured this French costume book for the Graphic Arts Collection with great success: http://pudl.princeton.edu/boundart.php?obj=v118rf94k

Arcola Pettway’s “Lazy Gals Variation”


Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber recently announced that our 2020 “pre-read” is This America: The Case for the Nation by historian Jill Lepore. https://princeton.overdrive.com/media/4618070 Each year Princeton’s incoming class collectively explores one text, this year focusing on the concept of the nation, American civil ideals, and historical truth-seeking.

Published by W.W. Norton & Company in 2019, the book’s cover features the image of a quilt in the shape of an American flag. The work was created in 1976 by Arcola Pettway (1934-1994), titled Lazy Gals Variation, as a Bicentennial quilt composed of brightly colored strips of corduroy fabric. “Lazy Gal” refers to the quilting pattern of irregular bars, one of a variety of traditional patterns used by Pettway and other quilters who are part of the Gee’s Bend collective. The quilt pictured above is owned by the High Museum, a purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection.

Pettway and the other quilters are the descendants of enslaved people from rural Gee’s Bend, Alabama. They first came to national attention with the Freedom Quilting Bee, a cooperative arising from the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, and their quilts were sold in New York City at Bloomingdale’s and Sak’s, providing income for the women.

In the 1990s, art collector William Arnett and his family, rediscovered them and, together with curators, patrons and others with a large respect for African-American culture, a touring exhibition was organized by the Museum of Fine Art, Houston.

According to the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, “Arcola Young was raised by her mother, Deborah Young, and her grandfather, Reverend Paul S. Pettway. Her mother also raised Young’s cousin, Leola Pettway. Leola described their childhood as being full of play and adventure, like fishing, singing in church choirs, and inventing games. Young married Joseph Pettway, brother of Lucy T. Pettway, and together they had 12 children. They farmed together and Young was a part of a gospel singing group, the Golden Angels.”– For more information on the women of Gee’s Bend, see https://www.soulsgrowndeep.org/gees-bend-quiltmakers


In 2017, three etchings after the quilts of Loretta Pettway and Mary Lee Bendolph, members of the Gee’s Bend quilters, were acquired by the Graphic Arts Collection and installed in Firestone Library’s African American Studies Room (B floor) thanks to a joint initiative between the Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton University Library, and the Department of African American Studies. https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2017/04/10/gees-bend-prints-acquired/

 

Glad Syttende Mai

To honor the Norwegian Constitution Day, May 17th, or Syttende mai, here is a post for my favorite Norwegian author Kjersti A. Skomsvold. Seen above is her first and perhaps, still most compelling novel The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am (Firestone Library PT8952.29.K65 J613 2011).

Happily last summer “Two Month Review” chose to feature Skomsvold’s Monsterhuman, translated from the Norwegian by Becky L. Crook, for their discussion and deep read. Note in this episode the discussion on the book does not begin until about 23.40.

“Marius Hjeldnes from Cappelen Damm joins Chad and Brian to provide a bit of background on Skomsvold, on trends in Norwegian literature, on that whole “dice” thing, and much more. They cover the first three sections of the book, laying out the main themes and ideas that set-up this novel about a young woman suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, trying to rebuild her sense of self by becoming a writer. An incredibly interesting, episodic novel that you should be able to dive into, even if you don’t read every page.”

Other podcasts of the Two Month Review can be found online. “Each “season” they highlight a new work of world literature, reading it slowly over the course of eight to nine episodes. Featuring a rotating set of literary guests—from authors to booksellers, critics, and translators—each episode recaps a short section of the book and uses that as a springboard for a fun (and often irreverent) discussion about literature in a general sense, pop culture, reading approaches, and much more.”


The English language edition of Jo fortere jeg går, jo mindre er jeg (The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am) has a cover designed by the American artist Richard McGuire. In 2014, the Morgan Library and Museum mounted an exhibition of the artist’s work titled From Here to Here: Richard McGuire Makes a Book; https://www.themorgan.org/exhibitions/From-Here-to-Here . Many of us got to know him originally through RAW magazine, the comics journal edited by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly, and then the book of Here strips. (https://web.archive.org/web/20100814190317/http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~jbass/courses/402/402_mcguire_here.htm)

Luc Sante, writing for the New York Times in 2015, commented, “No one who saw that story ever forgot it: a chronicle of a life, running from 1957 to 2027, as situated in one room, with kaleidoscopic intrusions from various pasts and a wisp of a future — the house burns in 2029 and is torn down in 2030…” https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/books/review/richard-mcguires-here.html

See more of McGuire here https://www.richard-mcguire.com/new-page-4 and get other Skomsvold novels at your local bookshop.