Category Archives: painting and watercolors


In the Aberlian manner

Johann Heinrich Meynier, Die Kunst zu Tuschen und mit Wasserfarben: sowohl in Miniatur, als in Gouache und in Aberlischer-oder Aquarell-Manier, Landschaften, Porträte, und andere Gegenstände zu mahlen: nebst Vorausgeschickten Bemerkungen über die Kunst zu zeichnen (Leipzig: Bey Heinrich Gräff, 1799). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process

As an added incentive to the young artists using this late-18th-century painting manual, a final hand-colored plate purports to offer 784 different color options. This is particularly interesting because Meynier’s text promoted coloring “in the Aberlian manner.” The technique was made famous by the Swiss painter Johann Ludwig Aberli (1723-1786) who designed line etchings printed in black ink and then, hand colored the scene to make each print seem unique. The method was quick and easy, not unlike modern color by numbers. These paintings were promoted to the popular print market.

Meynier went on to write and published a number of dictionaries, grammars, and training manuals. Sources indicate he wrote under various pseudonyms that included the surnames Jerrer, Sanguin, and Renner.

See also: Johann Heinrich Meynier, Erzählungen für Kinder : zur Erweckung eines feineren moralischen Gefühls und zur Bildung milderer Sitten (Nürnberg: bei Friedrich Campe, 1817). Cotsen Children’s Library Euro 18 46196

Varley’s List of Colours

Watercolorist John Varley (1778-1842) helped to establish the first Watercolour Society in London, and later the Society of Painters in Oil and Watercolours, serving as one of the leading instructors in the medium. In his cottage at Twickenham, Varley’s students learned to draw and paint from nature, among them William Mulready, John Linnell, and Samuel Palmer.

This sheet, recently placed on deposit in the Graphic Arts Collection, is assumed to have been created for his students rather than the general public. Eighteen colors are illustrated with hand-painted samples and explanations of their qualities along with recommendations for use. The upper nine painted in pure pigment colors are Prussian blue, indigo, lake, gamboge, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, Venetian red, vermilion and burnt umber. The lower nine painted in mixed tints are warm grey, purple grey, neutral tint, dark warm grey, warm green, olive green, orange, roman ochre and sepia.

The copy of Varley’s list held by the British Museum illustrates nineteen colors, beginning with cobalt blue, not found on the sheet in the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton.

The Art Journal, 1841 Vol. 3-5

In conjunction with his classes, Varley published a number of instruction manuals including:

A Practical Treatise on the Art of Drawing and Perspective, 1815.
Precepts of Landscape Drawing, exemplified in fifteen views, 1818.
Varley’s List of Colours, 1818 (Princeton’s 1816)
A Treatise on the Principles of Landscape Design, illustrated by sixteen views on eight aquatint plates, issued in eight parts at 5s., between 20 Feb. 1816 and 1 May 1821.
A Treatise on Zodiacal Physiognomy (five illustrations), 1828.

The final volume was developed with his closest friends John Linnell (1792-1882) and William Blake (1757-1827). The two portraits above are by Linnell.

The works that brought Blake most notoriety in his lifetime, and were most responsible for accusations that he was mad, were the ‘Visionary Heads’ he did for the delectation of the landscape watercolourist John Varley, whom he had met in 1818 through one of Varley’s pupils, John Linnell, the great patron of Blake’s later years. These Heads … portray biblical and historic individuals such as David, Socrates and Richard Coeur de Lion, semi-historical characters such as Wat Tyler’s Daughter and imaginary beings such as The Man who built the Pyramids. They were executed from 1819 onwards, mainly in the evenings at Varley’s house. –selection from “Blake, Linnell and Varley and A Treatise on Zodiacal Physiognomy” by Martin Butlin.


John Varley (1778-1842), J. Varley’s List of Colours, 1816. Letterpress and watercolor. Graphic Arts Collection. On deposit from Bruce Willsie, Class of 1986.

See also:
John Varley (1778-1842), A Practical Treatise on Perspective [adapted for the study of those who draw from nature … by] (London: The author, 1815). Rare Books » Oversize NC730 .V43f

John Varley (1778-1842), A Treatise on the Principles of Landscape Design; with general observations and instructions to young artists ... (London: Sherwood, 1821). Rare Books » Oversize NC730 .V42f

John Varley (1778-1842), A Treatise on Zodiacal Physiognomy : illustrated by engravings of heads and features, and accompanied by tables of the time of rising of the twelve signs of the Zodiac : and containing also new and… (London: Published by the author … ; and sold by Longman and Co. … , 1828). Rare Books 2005-2238N

Before you build a wall, remove the art

As Firestone Library comes to the end of a ten year (or so) renovation, we are still finding collections in unexpected places. This morning, a six-foot framed canvas was uncovered behind a storage closet for emergency preparedness supplies. Happily, the canvas and the frame have been retrieved thanks to our wonderful security and maintenance staff.

Poems by the Knight of Morar, See Princeton


The British Museum holds an etching [left] by George Cruikshank (1792-1878) designed as a frontispiece to Sir William Augustus Fraser’s Poems by the Knight of Morar, with the inscription “Designed & Etched by- George Cruikshank- September 27th 1870- 78 years of age.” At the bottom someone has written “See Princeton…”.

Princeton University’s Graphic Arts Collection holds a watercolor sketch [below] for this print but no book, since the proposed volume with this 1870 frontispiece was never published.


Thanks to the gift of Richard Waln Meirs (Class of 1888), the Graphic Arts Collection does have two editions of Fraser’s book from 1867 with other Cruikshank’s designs, both particularly rare unpublished copies: Sir William Fraser (1826-1898), Poems by the Knight of Morar (London: Printed by Whittingham and Wilkins, 1867). Copy 1 has three steel engravings by Gustave Doré (1832-1883) and one etching by G. Cruikshank.  Copy 2 uses that Cruikshank print as a frontispiece, described here:

“Or on the sundial’s polished face
Round and round the circle trace,
Now to the gnoman’s point they climb
Mocking the Moon’s mistaken time”

Unidentified pickpocket


This pen and ink and watercolor drawing by George Cruikshank (1792-1878) in the Graphic Arts Collection has been mislabeled for a number of years. In trying to attribute it to the correction book or print a number of other pickpocket scenes were consulted, along with Rictor Norton’s text on Georgian raggamuffins and thieves.

Richard Newton after Thomas Rowlandson, A Frenchman Plundered, 1792. Etching.

Isaac Robert Cruikshank, Dandy Pickpockets, Diving, December 2, 1818. Etching

Henry Heath, The Rule of Three, 1827. Etching.

Butler Clowes after John Collet, Female Bruisers, 1770. Mezzotint.

In 1820, Cruikshank was working out the plates for Pierce Egan’s Life in London, featuring the adventures of protagonists Tom, Jerry and Logic, three men about town. Although these figures are not as elegant as the published versions, it may be this watercolor was an early attempt to work out a scene never included in the final book. See more:

Pierce Egan (1772-1849), Life in London; or, The day and night scenes of Jerry Hawthorne, esq., and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian, in their rambles and sprees through the metropolis. By Pierce Egan … Embellished with thirty-six scenes from real life, designed and etched by I. R. & G. Cruikshank; and enriched also with numerous original designs on wood, by the same artists (London: Printed for Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1821). Graphic Arts Collection Cruik 1821

Do you have another theory?





Jesse Jackson Sr.

On the twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost, 11/11 at 11:11 am, a multi-faith service for peace was held in the Princeton University chapel to mark the end of WW1, with a sermon by guest preacher, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

Rev. Jackson is the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and one of America’s foremost civil rights, religious, and political figures. Over the past fifty years, he has played a pivotal role in virtually every movement for empowerment, peace, civil rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice.

This was a reminder of the painting held in the Graphic Arts Collection of Jackson’s sermon thirty years ago at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church.  Franklin McMahon (1921-2012), Reverend Jesse Jackson, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga. 1988. Graphite, charcoal, and acrylic paint on paper. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2015

As reported in the New York Times, “The Rev. Jesse Jackson came to Ebenezer Baptist Church to preach from the pulpit that once belonged to Martin Luther King Jr. and to cloak his Presidential campaign in the glory of the movement that Dr. King led. It was a rich mix of God, politics and history, of civil rights movement veterans, political leaders and average churchgoers, all crammed into the narrow wooden pews of Ebenezer Baptist, two days before the Super Tuesday primaries across the South. . . ”


“. . . Then Mr. Jackson took his place at the simple white pulpit. He noted that it was the 23d anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday,’ when civil rights demonstrators were beaten on a bridge in Selma, Ala., as they tried to march for the right to vote. He then paid tribute to John Lewis, now an Atlanta Congressman, who had led that march and been savagely beaten and on this Sunday morning was in a front pew. Mr. Jackson went on to present Super Tuesday as the outgrowth of the bloodletting on that Selma bridge. ‘Tuesday, 23 years later, we can transform the crucifixion,’ he said. ‘And on Tuesday roll the stone away, and on Wednesday morning have a resurrection: new hope, new life, new possibilities, new South, new America.’

‘I’m proud of the the New South,’ Mr. Jackson said. ‘No more governors standing in the school house door, no more dogs biting children.’ But, he continued, ‘It’s not enough to have kind governors and tame dogs. It’s not enough.’ He argued that ‘the fight for economic justice’ was the principle challenge before the South and the nation. It was a fight for the economic rights of garbagemen, Mr. Jackson noted, that drew Dr. King to Memphis, where he was assassinated in 1968. When Mr. Jackson had finished, the congregation sang him on his way with ‘I’m on the Battlefield for My Lord.’ And Mr. Roberts adlibbed, ‘And I promise not to serve him just ’till Super Tuesday but until I die.’”–Robin Toner, “Hosannas to God and Votes for Jackson,” Special to the New York Times, March 7, 1988.


Following yesterday’s service at Princeton University, the 39th Annual Conference and Multifaith Service for Peace sponsored by the Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) and co-sponsored by 31 religious and civic groups in the region (see with Rev. Jackson and Ambassador Wendy Sherman.

Sherman led the U.S. negotiating team and was a central player in reaching a successful conclusion of the Iran nuclear agreement. In recognition of her diplomatic accomplishments, she was awarded the National Security Medal by President Barack Obama. Amb. Sherman’s latest book Not for the Faint of Heart, is on order. Here is a preview.


“I have a great weakness for these little sheets of paper” -Rodin

(grainy image due to low light during hanging)

It is a great privilege to have work from the Graphic Arts Collection included in an exhibition at the Musée Rodin in Paris. Opening November 6, 2018, and running through February 24, 2019, the show entitled Rodin, Dessiner, Découper, includes nearly 250 drawings by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), of which 90 are his rare and often surprising cut and assembled figures, 6 loaned by Princeton University’s Graphic Arts Collection. “Jouant de la mise en espace de ces corps,” writes curator Sophie Biass-Fabiani, “ce procédé révèle des silhouettes découpées audacieuses et un dynamisme d’une grande modernité. Cette exposition annonce un des modes d’expression novateurs du XXe siècle.”

The museum’s site goes on to quote Rodin, who said,

“‘I have a great weakness for these little sheets of paper.’ This is how Rodin showed his attachment to his drawn work. From his beginnings, Rodin realized–independently of his sculptures–drawings that he executed according to the living model. He presents his drawings in all exhibitions devoted to him, first in Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague in 1899, then Paris in 1900, Prague in 1902 or Düsseldorf in 1904. The museum retains most of this drawn work, about 7500 leaves.

An unprecedented mode of operation: drawing, cutting. Rodin submits his drawings made from a first throw to various metamorphoses. He decodes his drawings, identifies the line that suits him, sets the color using watercolor, cuts out his figures, puts them back, assembles them to other figures and gradually builds an unexpected device. In his early years, Rodin cut drawings and sketches that he pasted into albums. Between 1900 and 1910, he cut a hundred drawings of watercolor nudes which are the heart of this exhibition. By cutting them out, Rodin likes to manipulate them, to situate them in space in multiple ways, to cut them off voluntarily.”

(c) Musée Rodin

More information on how Rodin’s work made it to Princeton can be found here: Hanging and lighting will be completed this week and their beautiful exhibition catalogue with full color images will be available at Princeton next Monday.

“He plays with the small figures of paper which are the equivalent of his plaster figures. By relating these carvings to the three-dimensional character of the sculpture, the carved figures appear as a new “object” between the two-dimensional design and the sculpture. In another series, Rodin executes from his cut-out figures real assemblages that he fixes himself on a new support, interweaving the bodies in a new composition. Drawn and cut, these drawings are not mere technical accessories: they have conquered their status as full-fledged works. The dynamism of the silhouettes announces the modernity of Matisse.” –Sophie Biass-Fabiani, curator




Pas de quatre

We were asked recently about the watercolor attributed to Alfred Edward Chalon (1780-1860) of the four leading ballerinas of the 1840s, Fanny Cerrito, Lucile Grahn, Carlotta Grisi, and Marie Taglioni, in the Pas de Quatre, composed by Jules Perrot and danced on July 12, 1845. This painting was the source for a popular lithograph by Thomas Herbert Maguire (1821-1895), widely circulated.

According to commentary by the Victoria and Albert Museum,

“There were no men in the ballet–the ballerina was now the public’s favourite and the male dancer’s role was reduced to lifting and supporting her. In the coming years, his position declined even further, until he was all but banished from the stage and male roles were performed by girls in men’s clothing. By this time a recognisable ‘ballet’ costume had evolved, which still forms the basis of many ballet costumes today. It was originally based on fashionable dress of the period, but gradually crystallised into a low-cut pointed bodice and a bell-shaped, knee-length skirt formed of tiers of tarlatan with a diaphanous top layer.”

Our watercolor was a gift of Allison Delarue, of whom Mary Ann Jensen, former Curator of the William Seymour Theatre Collection, wrote,

“Allison Delarue, Class of 1928, is a graduate of the Peddie School who received both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Princeton University. While continuing graduate studies at Oxford University he became fascinated with the renaissance of ballet in England; he studied dance with the Hon. Martin-Haney and bought his first ballet print at Cyril Beaumont’s famous London bookshop in Charing Cross Road.

Returning to the United States, he pursued his interest in the ballet while on the staff of the Cooper Union Museum in New York City. A talented photographer as well as a collector and writer, for many years Mr. Delarue was on the staff of the McCarter Theatre in Princeton. His professional memberships have included the Theatre Library Association and the American Society for Theatre Research.”

A Nincompoop and Other Prints


Princeton University class “Caricature and Modernity: 1776-1914” (ART 453/ECS 453) visited the Graphic Arts Collection this week to view prints and watercolors by James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, and other British caricaturists.

With frequent bursts of laughter, the class looked primarily at the collection of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895, who donated several thousand prints, drawings, and illustrated books to the Princeton University Library.

“Caricature, based on the distortion of the human face for comic effect, challenged the ideally beautiful,” reads the class description, “and the academic art training that developed in Western Europe after the Renaissance. This course will examine the explosion of caricatural prints and comic illustrated books in France, Great Britain, and the United States from the revolutions of 1776 and 1789 to World War I. Topics will include the political role of satire in the newly defined public sphere; the influence of physiognomy and racial theories on caricatural depictions; the invention of the comic strip; and the origins of Dada and Cubism in comic illustration.”

The invention of laughing gas is celebrated below:

Reports were prepared on Gillray’s Tom Paine’s Nightly Pest (1792); King of Brobdingnag and Gulliver (1803); Matrimonial Harmonics (1805); and Advantages of Wearing Muslin Dresses! (1818). In addition, they studied Rowlandson’s Drawing from Life at the Royal Academy, Somerset House (1808); A Nincompoop or Henpecked Husband (1807); The Anatomist (1811); and Breaking up the Bluestocking Club (1815), among many others.

Next week they move on to Paris and Charles Philipon’s La Caricature with Daumier, Grandville, and other French caricaturists.

Attributed to Henry William Bunbury (1750–1811), The Long Minuet as Danced at Bath (after 1787).




The Battle of Princeton and the [later] Death of Mercer

One of the rare items pulled for the Princeton University class “Battle Lab” (HUM 350/ART 302/AMS 352) was a series of preparatory sketches by John Trumbull (1756–1843) for his painting, The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777.

The students were asked where and when did Brigadier General Hugh Mercer (1726-1777) actually die? Answer: Mercer died in the Thomas Clarke House on the eastern end of the battlefield, nine days after the battle ended.

The students examined a cannon ball found in April 1896 near Princeton Battlefield and grapeshot found November 1941 by Dr. Henry E. Hale, one yard northerly from north west corner of the Thomas Clarke House in which Gen. Mercer died 12 Jan. 1777, found under the room in which he died (Gift of Cora A. Margenem).

This framed section of The Apotheosis of George Washington uses an image taken from a 1781 print by Valentine Green after a painting by John Trumbull, and printed on fabric by an English textile designer. Here Washington is driving a chariot drawn by leopards, accompanied by the figure of America in a plumed headdress. This is one part of a larger design that originally also included The Apotheosis of Benjamin Franklin and was used as wall paper, bed linen, and other decorative fabrics.

Students were also shown two swords, one which appears in the Washington textile and the other similar to one in Trumbull’s battle scene.

Among the seminal American documents shown was a first printing of the Declaration of Independence, printed by John Dunlap (1747-1812) and “signed by order and in behalf of the Congress, John Hancock, president. Attest. Charles Thomson, secretary.” Acquired December, 1940, William H. Scheide Library.

There are two states noted by Frederick Goff, differing in the placement of the imprint. In the earlier state, the P of Philadelphia is located directly beneath the comma following Thomson’s name. In the later state the P is located directly beneath the n of Thomson’s name. Goff notes also a proof copy (imperfect), held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, exhibiting differences in punctuation and in the insertion in line 13 of the word ‘a’ before the word ‘new.’ Cf. Goff, F.R. The John Dunlop broadside: the first printing of the Declaration of Independence, 1976. See also Walsh, M.J. “Contemporary Broadside editions of the Declaration of Independence.” Harvard Library Bulletin 3 (1949): 31-43, 1.

(left) Thomas Paine (1737-1809); (center) George Washington (1732-1799); (right) Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) from the Laurence Hutton Collection of Life and Death Masks Note the sunken faces of Paine and Franklin, whose false teeth had been removed before the mold was taken.


Thanks to the donation of Malcolm S. Forbes, Class of 1941, we have a collection of American Revolutionary War soldiers in the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. The group consists of no.158 of a limited set of models of the officers and men of American, British, and Hessian regiments that fought in the battles of Trenton (December 26, 1776) and Princeton (January 2-3, 1777). These 39 models were made to order for the Princeton Battlefield Area Preservation Society by Blenheim Military Models, Glamorgan, Wales.

A variety of other reliquaries, maps, and engravings were also included in the exciting class.