Category Archives: painting and watercolors


Japanese Sketchbooks

After nearly seventy years, the printed and published Japanese books in the Graphic Arts Collection collected by former curators Elmer Adler and Gillett Griffin, have all be catalogued and processed.

They can be searched along with other materials in the online catalogue:

Our next step is to describe the collection of anonymous sketchbooks, copy books, and scrapbooks that have been donated over the years. These volumes vary enormously, from elaborate finished paintings to quick ink sketches. Here’s one example.

Edison turns up in Paris

New Jersey’s Thomas Edison (1847-1931) is one of the 110 identified figures included the immense painting by Raoul Dufy, commissioned by the Paris Electric Company for the Pavilion of Light and Electricity at the 1937 Paris International Exposition. Painted in only ten months, the mural presents historic and contemporary persons who may have had some role in the development of electricity.

Archimedes is present along with Benjamin Franklin and Marie Curie (the only woman) among many others. Each portrait was completed individually and then, images projected using a magic lantern onto an enormous wall to be painted.

The artist took his inspiration from Lucretius’ De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things), which expounds the Epicurean view of the natural origins of the universe. Dufy sought to complete Lucretius’ poem by bringing it up to the present world, creating a temple of Electricity, the goddess of modern times.

A huge power station takes a central position in the mural, with bolts of crackling electricity. The lower level features philosophers, scholars and engineers from antiquity to the present, while the upper register presents images of their discoveries—from mathematics to the light bulb—and its uses.

Originally shown on the concave wall of the Palais de la Lumière et de l’Electricité, built by Mallet Stevens on the Champs-de-Mars, the mural is now permanently installed at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, where it can be viewed for free.

Raoul Dufy (1877-1953), La Fée Électricité (The Spirit of Electricity), 1937. Oil on plywood. 10 x 60 m. Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

See also: Titus Lucretius Carus, T. Lucreti Cari, poetæ philosophici antiquissimi de rerum natura liber primus incipit fœliciter ([Verona: Paulus Fridenperger, 28 September 1486]). Rare Books EXKA Incunabula 1486 Lucretius

Severo Sarduy list

Kamel Ouidi, Portrait of Severo Sarduy, ca. 1980. Gelatin silver print. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2012.02149


Our collection of visual art by poet, playwright, and novelist Severo Sarduy (1937-1993) has received so much attention in the past month, we are posting a PDF of the collection with images and call numbers to make patron requests easier. sarduy list with call numbers.

This can, of course, be searched through our online catalogue but given the abstract nature of these works and the lack of any individual titles, the list might prove more helpful.

The collection came to Princeton University with the assistance of the Executive Committee for the Program in Latin American Studies in 2011. Also included are artifacts from his studio, along with several works by his friends Roland Barthes, Jorge Camacho, and José Luis Cuevas.


Severo Sarduy (1933-1996), Triptyque I, II, III, 1990. Gouache, watercolor, coffee, and various other mediums. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2012.02170




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: