Category Archives: painting and watercolors



Date: January 29, 1932; Material: Metal

“The misfortune happened to me on May 28, 1929. Being dragged along by the waters of the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas, I saw myself in such great danger that I invoked Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos with a true heart, and at that moment my salvation came from a friend who, bravely fighting the fearful waters, was able to pull me to the river bank. In thanksgiving for so apparent a miracle, I make public the present retablo. San Francisco de Rincón. January 29 of 1932. Domingo Segura.”

This is one of 170 stories documented and transcribed by Jorge Durand and Douglas S. Massey in their 1995 book and exhibition Miracles on the Border. Each story resulted in the painting of a retablo, an offering for miracles granted, usually painted on small pieces of tin.

A reference question today reminded us that Massey photographed his collection of retablos and the images have been added to ArtStor, so that everyone can enjoy and even download them.

ArtStor notes,

“The retablos collected by Massey and Durand for Miracles on the Border, which date from 1912 to 1996, represent modern expressions of this traditional Mexican art form. Produced for Mexican migrants to the United States, these retablos were left anonymously at churches as offerings for miracles granted. They are united by the types of miracles they commemorate, specifically, the trials undergone by migrants crossing the border from Mexico into the United States. Massey and Durand used these images to study the social conditions surrounding Mexican migration, conducting statistical analyses of the age, gender, geographic origins, and eventual destinations of the migrants who commissioned the votive paintings.”

Massey is the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Since 1988, Massey has collaborated with long–time colleague Jorge Durand, research professor of anthropology at the University of Guadalajara, collecting and studying retablos — religious folk art produced for Mexican migrants to the United States.

Material: Metal

Information can also be found on the website for the Mexican Migration Project (MMP), where the collection is described and several artists introduced:

The term retablo, from the Latin retro tabula, or “behind the altar,” originally referred to the large paintings depicting saints, Jesus, or the Virgin Mary, which hung behind altars in Catholic churches. In Mexico, retablos, also called laminas, came to denote the small devotional paintings that devout Mexicans would commission as ex–votos, or votive offerings, given in fulfillment of a vow or in gratitude for divine intercession.

Date: January 11, 1986; Material: Metal

Jorge Durand and Douglas S. Massey, Miracles on the Border: Retablos of Mexican Migrants to the United States; with Photographs by the Authors (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995). Firestone Library (F) ND1432.M46 D87 1995

Creator: Aragón, José Rafael, ca. 1795-1862.; Date: 2nd quarter 19th century .; Material: Gesso.; Tempera.; Pine.; Panel (wood); Measurements: 8 x 11 inches.; Repository: Museum of New Mexico.; Accession Number: #L.5.54-54

There are additional retablos on Artstor from other collections, such as this piece owned by the Museum of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Seconda parte delle logge di Rafaele nel Vaticano

Detail of plate one, God Dividing Light from Darkness


A single plate engraved by Giovanni Ottaviani after Raphael was recently found among the unidentified prints in our collection. This led to the discovery of a complete set of all 13 painted engravings for the “Seconda Parte” of the celebrated Loggie di Rafaele nel Vaticano. The spectacular volume has now been acquired for Princeton University Library in honor of Marvin Bielawski, Deputy University Librarian, Princeton University Library, thanks to the joint efforts of the Friends of the Princeton University Library and the Graphic Arts Collection.

Plate one, God Dividing Light from Darkness

Seconda parte delle Logge di Rafaele nel Vaticano. Volume two of Loggie di Rafaele nel Vaticano. Engraved by Giovanni Ottaviani (1735–ca. 1808) and Giovanni Volpato (1732–1803); after designs by Gaetano Savorelli (died 1791), Ludovicus Teseo Taurinensis (active 18th century) and Pietro Camporesi (1726–1781); after frescoes by Raphael (1483-1520). Publisher unknown, 1776. Title page and 13 engraving with hand painted gouache color. Purchased by the Friends of the Princeton University Library and the Graphic Arts Collection in honor of Marvin Bielawski. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2017- in process.

This volume of 18th-century painted engravings reproduces the 16th-century frescoes by Raphael (Rafaello Sanzio d’ Urbino) along the Loggia of the Vatican in Rome. Sometimes called Raphael’s Bible, the Loggia’s 13 arcades are decorated with 52 frescoes: 48 subjects from the Old Testament and 4 depicting the life of Christ. The original sketches were made by Raphael, the cartoons prepared by Giulio Romano, and the painting done by multiple artists between 1516-1519.

Only one of the 4 scenes from each arcade are reproduced in brilliant gouache color for the Seconda parte. All 52 scenes can be seen in black and white in Picturae peristylI Vaticani, manus Raphaelis SancI, in tabulis aereis nova cura expressae, chartisque reddita anno MDCCLXXXX ([Rome: Caleografia Camerale, 1790]). Rare Books (Ex) Oversize 2009-0001E

Professional photography will soon be completed of this beautiful volume but for now, here are some images of our new acquisition.

Plate two, Adam and Eve at Work out of Paradise.


Plate three, Building of the Ark.


Detail of plate four, Three Angels Appearing to Abraham.


Plate five, God Appearing to Isaac.


Detail from plate six, Jacob’s Ladder.


Detail from plate six, Jacob’s Ladder.


Detail from plate seven, Joseph Telling his Dream.


Detail from plate eight, The Finding of Moses.


Detail from plate nine, Moses Showing the Tables of the Law.


Plate nine, Moses Showing the Tables of the Law.


Plate ten, The Fall of Jericho.

Detail from plate ten, The Fall of Jericho.


Detail from plate eleven, David’s Triumph over the Syrians.


Plate twelve, The Judgment of Solomon.


Every copy of this volume should be considered unique.  Many were painted at a later date, or done with a different hand. See for example this detail from plate twelve of the copy owned by the New York Public Library.


Detail from plate thirteen, The Last Supper.

Title page of volume two, Logge di Rafaele nel Vaticano.


Below is the title page from volume one, not held at Princeton University Library

Watercolor Lessons 1811

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired two drawing and coloring manuals, including one of the first English manuals to include actual color samples, only predated by Mary Gartside’s Essay on Light and Shade (1805) Ex 2013-0074Q.

Giles Firmin Phillips, A Practical Treatise on Drawing and on Painting in Water Colours, with Illustrative Examples in Pencil, in Sepia, and in Water Colours, Leading the Artist Progressively, from the First Rudiments, to the Completion of Works of Art in Their Finished State; Comprehending the Treatment of Coast Scenery, River Scenery, and General Landscape (London: A. & H. Bailey and Co., 1839). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process

Engraved title with hand colored aquatint vignette, 14 soft-ground etchings with monochrome aquatint added, (one view in three progressive stages), 5 colored aquatints, and a color chart. Abbey Life 166.

David Cox, A Series of Progressive Lessons Intended to Elucidate the Art of Painting in Water Colours. (London: T. Clay, 1811). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process

Illustrated with 13 plates (2 soft-ground etchings and 11 aquatints including 6 with hand coloring), and 8 color squares in the text.


One of the finest Venetian illustrated books of the Settecento

Giovanni Marco Pitteri (1703-1786) and Francesco Bartolozzi (1727-1815), after Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (1682-1754), Studi di pittura già dissegnati da Giambatista Piazzetta ed ora con l’intaglio di Marco Pitteri [Painting Studies Drawn by Giambattista Piazzetta and Now Together with Marco Pitteri’s Engravings] (Venice: [Giambattista Albrizzi], 1760). 28 pp. text and 48 engravings after 24 drawings. Includes Alcuni avvertimenti per lo incamminamento di un Giovani alla pittura di Gian Pietro Cavazzoni Zannotti (Giampietro Zannotti, 1674-1765). Graphic Arts Collection 2017- in process

In 1750, the celebrated painter and draftsman Giovanni Battista Piazzetta was appointed director of the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice but at the same time, came under increasing financial difficulties. His good friend, leading Venetian publisher Giambattista Battista Albrizzi commissioned a series of instructional life drawings for aspiring artists.

Piazzetta died in 1754 and over the next six years, Francesco Bartolozzi and Marco Pitteri each engraved their own representations of his drawings, which Albrizzi published both sets in 1760 as a manual for painting students; 48 engraved plates after 24 drawings. Bartolozzi emphasizing the line and Pitteri the light and shadow.

Piazzetta, Male Nude in a Landscape. Black chalk on paper. Morgan Museum and Library, Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. 1961.12:53

This rare volume of virtuoso talent also includes the only surviving etched self-portrait of Piazzetta dated 1738 and a biography of the artist written by Albrizzi. The Graphic Arts Collection is honored to now hold one of the only complete first editions reproducing Piazzetta’s master drawings. Half a generation older than Giambattista Tiepolo, Piazzetta exercised a profound influence on the work of the younger artist, which continues into the 21st century.

Print historian Suzanne Boorsch wrote, “Giambattista Albrizzi’s final tribute to Piazzetta is the Studj di pittura, a sort of model book reproducing twenty-four drawings of nude figures by Piazzetta. During much of his life Piazzetta directed an art school, and Albrizzi’s aim was to put into a more lasting form Piazzetta’s role as teacher. The book, not published until six years after Piazzetta’s death, includes two plates reproducing each drawing, one by Francesco Bartolozzi, which is quite conventional, with outlines and cross-hatching, and the other in Pitteri’s singular, arresting manner.” –Venetian Prints and Books in the Age of Tiepolo (1997). Marquand (SA) NE2052.4.V46 B66 1997



Selling Cigarettes with Suffragettes

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired an original watercolor advertisement for Park Drive cigarettes depicting suffragettes marching outside the House of Parliament in October 1908. The women’s sashes read “Vote for … Park Drive.” It is a rare and curious piece of commercial ephemera for a proposed advertisement that never found its way into print.

In 1857, Thomas Gallaher (1840-1927) started his own one-man business hand-rolling tobacco and selling it from a cart. Gallaher became a limited company in 1896 and a few years later received a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria.

The conglomerate, Imperial Tobacco, was formed in 1901 by the combination of thirteen leading British tobacco companies. Gallaher alone refused to join and all his advertisements from that time on included the statement: “We belong to no ring or combine.”

The introduction of machine-made cigarettes, called Park Drive, led to enormous growth and by 1907, the company employed more than 3,000 people, primarily women. Their first London factory opened at 67 Clerkenwell Road, the same area where Sylvia Pankhurst sought to unite the women’s movement with that of the working class. It’s possible someone, maybe even Gallaher, thought it would be useful to associate his company with the interests of the “Gallaher’s Girls,” who were sympathetic with the suffragettes.

Later a series of cigarette cards were marketed, including pretty girls, movie stars, and military officers.

For more on the history of the Gallaher Firm see:



Advertisements that were published include:

Watercolor for “Liberty Suspended!”

George Cruikshank (1792-1878), Liberty Suspended! with the Bulwark of the Constitution!, March 1817. Published London: J Sidebortham. Etching with hand coloring. Graphic Arts Collection Cruikshank GC 022. Gift of Richard W. Meirs, Class of 1888.

In posting George Cruikshank’s print “Liberty Suspended!” yesterday, a watercolor turned up also that has been attributed to Cruikshank as a preliminary sketch or source for this print. Both the text and the image are significantly different so there may have been several drawings for the various sections of the print.

Attributed to George Cruikshank (1792-1878),  Liberty Suspended!, 1817. Watercolor and graphite. Graphic Arts Collection GC022.

Moving the Battle of Princeton

James Peale (1749-1831), The Battle of Princeton, ca. 1782, Oil on canvas, 61.5 x 89.5 cm (24 3/16 x 35 1/4 in.), Princeton University, gift of Dean Mathey, Class of 1912, in 1951.

For many years, this painting by James Peale, younger brother of Charles Willson Peale, hung in Firestone Library before being loaned to the Historical Society of Princeton directly across Nassau Street. In 2009, the painting traveled to Virginia to be hung at Mt. Vernon for almost a year before returning to the Princeton University Art Museum, where it was conserved, glazed, and re-framed. This week, The Battle of Princeton returned to Firestone Library and the newly built Rare Books and Special Collections conference room.

Rand A. Mirante, Class of 1970, wrote a detailed description of the painting for the Princeton University Art Museum’s website. Here is a portion of that text:

This unsigned work, The Battle of Princeton, was a gift of the legendary Princeton trustee Dean Mathey, Class of 1914, and is thought to be a collaborative effort. Both Peale brothers had served in Washington’s army, and both fought during the critical Trenton-Princeton campaign—Charles as a lieutenant in the Philadelphia militia and James as an ensign with a Maryland regiment. Two years later, Charles returned to the Princeton battlefield and made sketches of the site for use in the backgrounds of his series of portraits of Washington. James, who is best known as a miniaturist, is believed to have used those sketches sometime in the mid-1780s to supplement what may have been his own recollections of the clash that took place near campus on January 3, 1777. Assisting James as an apprentice in the brothers’ Philadelphia studio was William Mercer, the deaf-mute son of the general slain during the battle; “Billy” Mercer would later execute his own copy of The Battle of Princeton, a painting currently in the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

James Peale’s painting depicts the critical moment when Washington rode onto the battlefield and rallied the militia, which had been retreating before British attacks. On the right are the redcoats, their firing line ranging alongside the Thomas Clarke farmhouse, a structure which can still be seen at the battle site today. In the middle distance lies the prostrate form of General Hugh Mercer, Billy’s father, next to his wounded horse. General Mercer had as a young man served as a surgeon’s apprentice with Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Highlanders at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. After that disastrous defeat he sought refuge from the Crown in America, only to find death by British bayonets on a New Jersey farmer’s field, where it was said that the British mistook him for Washington.

In the foreground is Washington, accurately portrayed as mounted on his chestnut, “Nelson,” who was inured to gunfire, rather than on his white charger, which was strictly a parade-ground horse. An added detail is the General’s unique headquarters flag, all stars and no stripes. Washington is giving orders to his artillery, commanded by Captain Joseph Moulder. It was the sudden appearance of Washington on the battlefield—he had initially been riding ahead with another portion of his force towards the College itself— and a volley of grapeshot from Moulder’s guns that turned the tide that January morning. It is a victory reflected by James Peale in the auspicious openings in the dark clouds in the dramatic sky, a victory that the colonists desperately needed to keep alive their struggle for liberty and freedom.


Note the blue flag with pointed stars that became George Washington’s personal flag in 1775. The actual flag was donated to the Valley Forge Historical Society from a descendant of Washington.

“There is ongoing research being made about Washington’s Commander in Chief Standard/Flag. It most likely dates back to 1775. Because it was Washington’s personal flag, it was with him wherever he went — saw the same action as he did. A painting by James Peale (Battle of Princeton) shows a large blue standard with a linear arrangement of stars. Peale was assisted by an apprentice, William Mercer, the deaf-mute son of General Hugh Mercer who was slain during the battle; William Mercer later produced his own version of The Battle of Princeton, which is currently in the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, but James Peale produced the original. A painting by his older brother, Charles Wilson Peale titled, George Washington at Princeton shows a blue canton with stars, only in a circular formation. The circular formation of stars on blue is also a device used in the Washington Life Guard Standard.”–text copyright © 1999-2017 by the Independence Hall Association, a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

To learn more about the Battle of Princeton, read Virginia Kays Creesy’s article published online December 1, 2016 in the Princeton Alumni Weekly:

See also more about the battleground:


Bingham’s Washington Crossing the Delaware

Washington Crossing the Delaware, From an unfinished painting by G. C. Bingham, between 1856 and 1871. Albumen silver print. Graphic Arts Collection GAX2017- in process.

Yet another find has been made, thanks to the renovation and reorganization of our library. This time credit goes to Steve Ferguson for identifying an albumen silver print of G.C. Bingham’s painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” taken during the many years that the work sat unfinished in the artist’s studio. It is, so far, the only image of Bingham’s painting in its earliest stages and will be extremely helpful to American painting scholars who want to study his composition and process.

“September 14, 1855, Bingham was spending most of his time on portraiture. He had opened a studio in the Grand Jury room of the courthouse at Columbia and was engaged upon a number of portraits. By the fourteenth of November he was in Jefferson City and had taken a room in the Capitol, where he remained for a month or more painting portraits. Incidentally, he exhibited in his studio there the “Verdict of the People.” Early in December he spoke in a Whig meeting in the Capitol. March 14, 1856, he was in Columbia again, engaged upon a historical painting, “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” no doubt inspired by Leutze’s popular representation of the same subject, which it resembles markedly both in composition and in purpose. For many years the picture remained unfinished, and not until eighteen years after its beginning was it actually completed. It is a large canvas, and, like Leutze’s, it is crowded and confused and wholly impossible as far as truth to nature is concerned.” —-Fern Helen Rusk, George Caleb Bingham, The Missouri Artist (1917. Marquand ND237.B5 R8)

One of the changes Bingham made between 1865 and 1871 was to remove the horse and rider behind Washington and replace it with two less active soldiers. In general, the entire background is simplified, giving a stronger focus to the central figures. Below are a few of Bingham’s other changes.

George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879), Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1856-71. Oil on canvas. Chrysler Museum of Art, Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., in honor of Walter P. Chrysler, Sr. Posted with the Chrysler’s permission.

“The painting illustrates the historic crossing of the Delaware River by George Washington and his troops.  George Caleb Bingham paints Washington seated atop a horse, which forms the apex of a pyramid, with the oars creating the base of the triangular composition.  Artists create a sense of stability and balance by using this choice of arrangement. Washington’s huddled men row across the frozen river almost directly toward the viewer. Bingham added minor embellishments to the scene.  Washington was unlikely to have been mounted on his horse for the crossing.   It would have made the ride too unstable.  In addition, the event happened in the early hours of the morning, in the dark.  Regardless, the artist is still able to capture the tense and risky crossing occurring on December 25, 1776 in a perilous snowstorm, leading to the Battle of Trenton.”–Chrysler Museum

For more information on George Washington’s campaign, see:


Jesse Jackson at the 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- in process


ATLANTA, March 6— “The Rev. Jesse Jackson came to Ebenezer Baptist Church today 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.

Mr. Jackson, whose relations with Atlanta’s black establishment have often been prickly, seemed to revel in the day. The former lieutenant to Dr. King now stood in his mentor’s church on the brink of a political triumph unimaginable a quarter century ago. It was, undeniably, a religious service, with a pastor noting at one point, ‘It’s not Martin, nor is it Jesse, who’s going to get you to Heaven.’ But after the choir sang ‘God Give Us Faith’ and ‘I’m So Glad I Got My Religion in Time,’ after the reading from the Book of Ezekiel and the communion service, the church moved on to the matters of the world. ‘Bloody Sunday’ Anniversary The Rev. Joseph L. Roberts, senior pastor at Ebenezer, brought the congregation to its feet as he introduced Mr. Jackson ‘as one who hopes to break a barrier that’s never been broken before, but ought to be broken, a barrier that has stood for too long, depriving our people of their rightful due.’

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.

This event was captured by Franklin McMahon, of whom the Times noted, “With sketch pads in hand, Mr. McMahon covered momentous events in the civil rights struggle, spacecraft launchings, national political conventions and the Vatican, turning out line drawings for major magazines and newspapers. Many were later colored by watercolor or acrylic paints, and most rendered scenes in a heightened, energetic style. ‘His goal,’ he said, ‘was to step beyond what he considered the limitations of photography to see around corners.’”–Douglas Martin, “Franklin McMahon, Who Drew the News, Dies at 90,” The New York Times, March 7, 2012.


The Ten Birth Tales and the Legend of Phra Malai



The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have acquired a mid-nineteenth century illustrated folding Funeral Book/Book of Merit containing a collection of Buddhist texts in Pali and Thai languages, in Khmer (Cambodian) script. Executed in watercolor, gilt, and ink, the stories include the legend of Phra Mali and the Ten Birth Tales. Although it is not dated, this wonderful volume is likely from Central Thailand between 1850 and  1900.



This large folding leporello of heavy paper (probably made from mulberry bark) is comprised of 48 leaves penned in a single neat hand in Khmer script and completed on both recto and verso. The work includes 17 paintings: 8 pairs of vibrant watercolors, several embellished with gilt, and one full double-page panel depicting scenes in Hell.





The British Library online notes: “The production of illustrated folding books ranks as one of Thailand’s greatest cultural achievements. They were produced for different purposes in Buddhist monasteries and at the royal and local courts, as well. First of all, such books served as teaching material and handbooks for Buddhist monks and novices. Classical Buddhist literature, prayers (Sutras) and moral teachings were also read to the lay people during religious ceremonies. The production of folding books-–and even sponsoring their production–was regarded as a great act of merit making. Therefore, folding books quite often are a kind of “Festschrift” in honour of a deceased person.”






Thanks to the assistance of Deborah Cotham and Dr Jana Igunma at the British library, we believe that the present example is one such funeral book, most probably completed by one scribe in Khmer script, though the language of the text is a mixture of Pali and Thai. I quote their notes in full:

The first part of the manuscript refers to the ten qualities of the Buddha, which are usually illustrated by the Buddha’s last Ten Birth Tales (Thai thotsachat). This section would be written in Pali, the language of the Buddhist canon. Funeral books were often commissioned by family members in order to make merit on behalf of the deceased person and to ensure that their family would not end up in hell, but be reborn in one of the Buddhist heavens. Thus the manuscript also includes the legend of Phra Malai, the famous Buddhist Saint, who traveled to the Buddhist heavens and hells.

During his visits to hell (naraka), Phra Malai was said to bestow mercy on the creatures suffering there, and who implore him to warn their relatives on earth of the horrors of hell and how they can escape it through making merit on behalf of the deceased, meditation and by following Buddhist precepts. Indeed, one of the most striking of the illustrations found in the present example, is the double-page depiction of the horrors of hell. Most of the text is in black ink on thick paper, most probably made from the bark of the khoi tree (streblus asper).

The first part in particular, has been accurately and quite beautifully penned and with great care taken, suggesting the work of a skilled scribe. It is impossible to say whether he also illustrated the work, although academics believe that they were more often the work of a different artist. A number of the vibrant illustrations have been embellished with in gilt, which further added value and prestige to such manuscripts, and a way of earning further merit on behalf of the deceased. In this instance, some of the images appear to have been influenced by Western painting techniques, suggesting that the painter may have been a student experimenting with new styles and techniques.

The legend of Phra Malai, a Buddhist monk of the Theravada tradition said to have attained supernatural powers through his accumulated merit and meditation, is the main text in a nineteenth-century Thai folding books (samut khoi). He figures prominently in Thai art, religious treatises, and rituals associated with the afterlife, and the story is one of the most popular subjects of nineteenth-century illustrated Thai manuscripts.



Thanks to Martin Heijdra, Ph. D. 何義壯, Director, East Asian Library, for his help with this acquisition.

For further information see Henry Ginsburg, Thai Art and Culture. Historic manuscripts from Western Collections (London: British Library, 2000).