Category Archives: painting and watercolors


Marx Memorial Library

dscn7715-2In 1934 Viscount Hastings, who studied under Diego Rivera, executed a large fresco for the Marx Memorial Library’s first-floor reading room. A number of influential figures within the history of British labor are depicted in this painting, entitled The Worker of the Future Clearing Away the Chaos of Capitalism.

Here are a few more of the many graphic arts that decorate the walls of the library, along with a little of their history.


A Welsh Charity school was built on the site of Marx House in 1738. It educated boys and later a few girls, the children of Welsh artisans living in poverty in Clerkenwell. Gradually the intake became too large and the school moved to new premises in 1772. After this the building was divided into separate workshops one of which became the home to the London Patriotic Society from 1872 until 1892.


The Twentieth Century Press occupied what had by then been labelled as 37a and 38, and expanded into 37 by 1909 – thereby returning the site to single occupancy for the first time since its days as a charity school. The Twentieth Century Press was founded by the Social Democratic Federation as printer for its journal Justice and was the first socialist Press in Clerkenwell. An early benefactor was William Morris, who guaranteed the rent of the Patriotic Club to the Twentieth Century Press. During its time in Clerkenwell Green, the Twentieth Century Press produced several of the earliest English editions of the works of Marx and Engels. The Twentieth Century Press remained at the building until 1922.



Lenin was exiled in London and worked in the building from April 1902 to May 1903. During this period he shared the office of Harry Quelch, the director of the Twentieth Century Press, from there he edited and printed the journal ISKRA (The Spark), which was smuggled into Russia. The office is still preserved and open to visitors.



In 1933, the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Karl Marx, a delegate meeting comprising trade unionists, veteran socialists belonging to the Labour Party and Communist Party, and representatives of the Labour Research Department and Martin Lawrence Publishers Ltd., considered setting up a Permanent memorial to him. That year also saw the Nazis in Germany burning books. In these circumstances the meeting resolved that the most appropriate memorial would be a Library. Thus the Marx Memorial Library and Workers School (as it was then known) was established at 37a Clerkenwell Green that year. Study classes, held in the evenings, became the distinguishing feature of the Workers’ School, which was divided into faculties of science, history and political economy.

dscn7698-2Note that William Morris was one of the comrades present at this 1890 meeting.

See also How I Became a Socialist. A series of biographical sketches (London: Twentieth Century Press, [no date]). I. H.M. Hyndman. II. E. Belfort Bax. III. William Morris. IV. Walter Crane. V. J. Hunter Watts. VI. John E. Williams. VII. Andreas Scheu. VIII. H.W. Lee. IX. James Macdonald. X. R. Blatchford. XI H. Quelch. XII. Tom Mann. Firestone RECAP HX241.H83

The March of the Guards to Finchley

hogarthWilliam Hogarth (1679-1764), The March of the Guards to Finchley, 1750. Oil on canvas. The Foundling Hospital Museum, London.

hogarth5-3Luke Sullivan (1705-1771) after William Hogarth (1697-1764), The March to Finchley–A Representation of the March of the Guards towards Scotland in the Year 1745, 1761. Etching and engraving. Graphic Arts Collection GC106.

The Graphic Arts Collection has an almost complete set of individual engravings by and after William Hogarth, as well as each of the bound sets of his work. We do not, however, have any of his oil paintings and so, it was fun today to see the oil on canvas [above] from which a series of engravings were made.

Hogarth offered this painting to King George II as a gift but the King foolishly refused it. “So Hogarth gave the first 2000 people to place an advance order for engravings the option of buying a lottery ticket to win the painting. When the day of the lottery came Hogarth had 167 tickets left, and he gave all of them to the Foundling Hospital. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Hospital won the painting.”–Foundling Hospital Museum.

Princeton does, by the way, also have an advance order ticket for this painting but unfortunately, not the winning ticket.

See also our exhibition website:

Turning still images into moving pictures

We were pleased to welcome Austrian filmmakers Gustav Deutsch and Hanna Schimek to RBSC today to view our collection of pre-cinema devices. Their first live-action film, “Shirley: Visions of Reality,” is showing at Princeton’s Garden Theater this evening. You should jump online and see if there are any tickets still available:

Taken from the website: “The film is one of those rare gems of artistic endeavour that defy categorization. Recreating 13 of Edward Hopper’s paintings, the movie charts over three decades of American history through the unfolding life of its protagonist, Shirley, a fictional red-haired actress who tackles the socio-political changes happening around her with the same fervour she handles her own personal affairs. Filtering history though the double lens of a contemporary painter’s viewpoint and a filmmaker’s re-interpretation of that viewpoint, in essence, Deutsch’s creation is a unique interdisciplinary art project presented as a feature film.
The film’s 13 scenes, each corresponding to a Hopper painting and extending to a period of six minutes either before or after the moment captured on that painting, are featured in chronological order from 1931 till 1963 with an introductory snapshot based on Hopper’s 1965 “Chair Car”. In these scenes—static tableaux vivants with little action or dialogue that take place on the 28th of August in the year the picture was painted—we glimpse through Shirley’s inner monologues and sparse lines to her partner, who remains silent throughout the movie, and the minor and major events in her life, we witness her playing the role of a bored blonde usherette in a movie, taking up menial jobs to secure her livelihood, retiring to the countryside and so on. In order to place each scene within a historical context, a radio news-broadcast precedes each scene depicting the Depression, WWII, the Cold War, Korea, JFK and Martin Luther King, all the way to Vietnam.” opticals

Nixon meets with Haldeman and Erlichman


Artist and reporter Franklin McMahon produced a series of documentary films in art that were aired on WBBM Television, Chicago and nationwide on CBS and PBS. The Portrait of an Election was a series of one-hour films using art and sound to document the national primaries, the Democratic and Republican conventions, and the presidential political campaigns.

McMahon’s painting seen above, now in the Graphic Arts Collection, was used in Portrait of an Election 1972, which received an Emmy for editing and an Emmy for best documentary.  The entire series won a Peabody Award for McMahon.

During Richard Nixon’s successful 1968 presidential run, Franklin also drew the “unelected White House guys” (H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and John N. Mitchell), that he correctly predicted would surround Nixon. This was one.

Franklin McMahon (1921-2012), President Richard M. Nixon meets with Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman and Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs John Erlichman. The White House, Washington, D.C., 1969. Provenance: from the collection of Margot McMahon. Graphic Arts Collection 2015- in process




Sergeant Kendall’s Portrait of Robert Blum

kendall3William Sergeant Kendall (1869-1938), Portrait of Robert Blum for “Robert Blum’s Great Decorative Painting in January Scribner’s”, no date [1895]. Pastel painting. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2006.02621


Sergeant Kendall designed three posters for Scribner & Company that were lithographed by J. E. Rhodes. One presents a full length portrait of the artist Robert Blum (1857-1903). The poster, probably completed in December 1895, announced an article about Blum’s recently completed mural for the Mendelssohn Hall in New York, published in Scribner’s January 1896 issue. Kendall’s other two posters offer similar portraits of Charles Dana Gibson and Charles Stanley Reinhart for Scribner’s articles.

“Alfred Corning Clark, in addition to his interest in music, was a patron of the visual arts. As part of the decoration of the interior of Mendelssohn Hall, as the new building on 40th Street was called, Clark commissioned Robert Frederick Blum, muralist, colorist, and illustrator, to do twin panels for either side of the proscenium arch in the concert hall. The first, begun in 1893 and completed in 1895, was called “Moods of Music.” The frieze was 50 feet long and 12 feet high. Later, Blum completed the companion piece, a canvas of equal size entitled “Feast of Bacchus.”

The Graphic Arts Collection holds Kendall’s pastel portrait of Blum, completed for Scribner’s poster. For many years, the attribution was incorrectly switched, described as a portrait of Kendall rather than of Blum. Happily this has now been corrected.

Shin moyō hinagata

japanese sketchbook8The Graphic Arts Collection holds a small group of Japanese sketchbooks or design books with little additional information. This one has been labeled simply Shin moyō hinagata, and appears to focus on birds and insects. The calligraphy on the publication stamp is very difficult to read but if you can add to our information, please let us know.

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Julian E. Garnsey


We had a question recently about our collection of Princeton University campus views by Julian Ellsworth Garnsey (1887-1969). From 1941 until his death, Garnsey lived and worked in Princeton as Associate Professor at Princeton University’s School of Architecture, as well as serving as a color consult for the city of Princeton. Many exhibitions of his watercolors have been held over the years in University and city venues.

In the summer of 1944, Garnsey began making a pictorial record of the Princeton campus. As W.E. Wagner Jr. wrote “Perched on a totally inadequate stool and surrounded by many onlookers, Associate Professor Julian E. Garnsey may be found, on clear days, continuing his work of making a picture record of the campus in full color. The Princeton campus which, being a Harvard man, he still is apt to call ‘the yard,’ in unguarded moments has, according to Professor Garnsey, vistas of unequalled beauty. In his water-color paintings of the campus he takes no liberties, and sometimes finds the exact copying ‘quite monotonous.’”

“…Painting in water color is merely his hobby, and he does not wish to be known as a painter. He came to Princeton two and one half years ago after a busy life as a mural painter and color consultant. Among his commissions before coming to Princeton, was the decoration of an entire group of new buildings for the University of California at Los Angeles. In one of his mural paintings there he painted Dr. Einstein for probably the first time. He was color consultant to the New York World’s Fair and was responsible for the color of all the buildings at the fair.”–Princeton Bulletin 2, no. 87 (28 August 1944)

Here are a few of the Graphic Arts Collection’s eight watercolors by Garnsey.







garnsey1At one time, Garnsey sold his views as greeting cards through The Little Gallery at 39 Palmer Square. There may still be copies of these in personal collections around Princeton.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

longfellow3Daniel Huntington (1816-1906), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), 1876. Oil on canvas. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2006.02629. Signed and dated on verso.

longfellow1Possibly in anticipation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s upcoming seventieth birthday, the poet sat for the American portrait painter Daniel Huntington (1819-1906) in 1876. The resulting oil on canvas is in the collection of Princeton University Library. Huntington was one of the leading portraitists of the period, as well as president of the American Academy of Arts Council; a founding member of the Century Association; vice-president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and a trustee of the Lenox Library. It is surprising that he had time to paint.

The Graphic Arts Collection holds eighteen portraits of Longfellow in various mediums. Here are two others.


longfellow5Unidentified photographer, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his study, no date [about 1881]. Albumen silver print. Graphic Arts collection GA 2009.01006. Dedication in ink, below: “‘Bon voyage’–To my dear young friend, E.J.S. // from Henry W. Longfellow // Cambridge, 1881”.

longfellow4Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), 1868. Albumen silver print. Graphic Arts collection GA 2010.02212. Inscribed in ink, on mount, l.l.: “From life Registered Photograph taken at Fresh Water July 1868”.


Lauterbrunnen by Rudolph Müller


Rudolph Müller (1802-1885), Jungfrau and the Valley of Lauterbrunnen, 1840. Oil on canvas. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2011.01493. Gift of J. Monroe Thorington, Class of 1915.


“After a variety of windings came to an enormous rock. Arrived at the foot of the mountain, (the Jungfrau, that is, the Maiden) glaciers; torrents; one of these torrents nine hundred feet in height of visible descent. Lodged at the curate’s.

Set out to see the valley; heard an avalanche fall, like thunder; glaciers enormous; storm came on, thunder, lightning, hail; all in perfection, and beautiful . . . Swiss curate’s house very good indeed—much better than most English vicarages. It is immediately opposite the torrent I spoke of. The torrent is in shape curving over the rock, like the tail of a white horse streaming in the wind, such as it might be conceived would be that of the ‘pale horse’ on which Death is mounted in the Apocalypse.

It is neither mist nor water, but a something between both; its immense height (nine hundred feet) gives it a wave or curve, a spreading here, or condensation there, wonderful and indescribable. I think, upon the whole, that this day has been better than any of this present excursion.” –Lord Byron, “Extracts from a Journal,” September 22, 1916, in The Works of Lord Byron: In Verse and in Prose, Including His Letters, Journals, Etc. (Firestone PR4350 .E46)


lauterbrunnen-42Contemporary view of Lauterbrunnen

Walter Biggs

“The Advance Guard of the Feast” was painted by Walter Biggs (1886-1968) for the December 21, 1912 issue of Harper’s Weekly. The art, printed on p. 24, wasn’t included as an illustration for a short story but as a gift from Harpers to its readers, referencing the upcoming Christmas holiday. The original painting is in the Graphic Arts Collection but the image had to be heavily PhotoShopped so that the figures can be seen. Even the digital reproduction of the magazine page [below] is difficult to make out. GetImage.aspWhen the work was painted, the twenty-six year old Biggs had finished his classes at the New York School of Art and was making a career as an illustrator. Beginning in 1912, he became a regular contributor to Harper’s Weekly, along with Century Illustrated, McClure’s, Lady’s Home Journal, and many of the other illustrated magazines.

“Biggs began achieving commercial success in 1905, when his illustrations appeared on the covers of Young’s Magazine in January and Field and Stream in July. After completing his formal art studies he rented a small studio and worked on a variety of projects. His early assignments included illustrations for a story in the McClure’s Magazine of October 1908, a color frontispiece for Myrtle Reed’s novel Old Rose and Silver (1909), and drawings for Belle Bushnell’s John Arrowsmith—Planter (1910).

In May 1912 he illustrated a story in Harper’s Monthly Magazine, launching a twelve-year relationship as a contributor to that magazine. In 1913 Biggs’s illustrations appeared in the January issue of the Delineator, in Kate Langley Bosher’s novel The House of Happiness, and in The Land of the Spirit, a collection of short stories by Thomas Nelson Page.

He illustrated a series of stories by Armistead Churchill Gordon that appeared in Scribner’s from 1914 to 1916 and were also published as Ommirandy: Plantation Life at Kingsmill (1917). In 1918 he illustrated a story by Alice Hegan Rice for the Century. Many of those illustrations were set in the American South, and Biggs won praise during his career for his sympathetic portrayals of African American life.”–Encyclopedia of Virginia.