Category Archives: prints and drawings

prints and drawings

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Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827), Quarter day, or clearing the premisses without consulting your landlord, January 30, 1814. Hand colored etching. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Princeton University Class of 1895. Graphic Arts Collection Rowlandson 1785E vol.7


Just a quick note to everyone who has so kindly followed this blog over the years. I will be leaving Princeton at the end of August and so, this will be the end of the new posts.

Since 2007 over 5,000 items in the graphic arts collection have been described. I’m told the site will remain for research and reference, which is my hope. If you have questions about the collection, you can post them to:

Thanks very much for your interest. Julie

Joseph Low, word and image

Corresponding with artists can often mean translating decorative words and images into simple sentences. Beginning in 1952, Graphic Arts curator Gillett Griffin (1928-2016) wrote to the American artist Joseph Low (1911-2007), inviting him to Princeton University to give a demonstration in linoleum block and stencil printing. The two became good friends and a lively correspondence followed, many of the cards and letters archived in our vertical files.

In 1958, Low was invited back to exhibit his new print “The Burning of Nassau Hall in 1802,” in the main lobby of Firestone Library, seen below, and not long after that, Low established his own private press, Eden Hill Press in Newtown, Conn., named after the road on which he lived.

Our library holds many illustrated editions by Low that complement the illustrated letter collection to give a rich and entertaining sense of the artist and his work. Here are a few examples.

Joseph Low (1911-2007), Burning of Nassau Hall, 1802. No date [1958]. Linocut. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2007.01750.


Perry’s “Narrative” and the battle between its printers

Scene showing Wilhelm Heine (1827-1885), official artist for Matthew Perry’s Narrative of the Expedition, sketching top center.


Matthew Calbraith Perry (1794-1858). Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the command of Commodore M. C. Perry, United States Navy, by order of the government of the United States. Comp. from the original notes and journals of Commodore Perry ... by Francis L. Hawks. With numerous illus. Pub. by order of the Congress of the United States. Washington, A. O. P. Nicholson and Beverly Tucker, 1856.
Separate titles: Vol. 2 Natural history reports by D. S. Green and others; v. 3 Observation of the zodiacal light, from April 2, 1853 to April 22, 1855, made chiefly on board the United States Steam-Frigate Mississippi … data by George Jones.
Copies at Princeton: Eugene B. Cook Chess Collection Oversize 42843.708q; Graphic Arts Collection Oversize 2008-0094Q; Special Collections–Oversize DS809.P45; Special Collections-Rare Books 1732.708q

Matthew Calbraith Perry (1794-1858). Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the command of Commodore M.C. Perry, United States Navy … Compiled from the original notes and journals of Commodore Perry and his officers, at his request and under his supervision, by Francis L. Hawks … New York, D. Appleton and Company; London, Trubner & Co., 1856.
Copies at Princeton: Firestone Library DS809 .P45 1856; Special Collections-Rare Books 2006-0435N

This is a link to a pdf with the lithographs in v.1, including the names of the artists (Heine, Peters, etc) or the photographer (Brown) on the right: Perry

Above, comparing two volumes printed for the Senate, two printed for the House of Representatives, and two trade editions.


“In 1851, President Millard Fillmore authorized a formal naval expedition to Japan to return shipwrecked Japanese sailors and request that Americans stranded in Japan be returned to the United States. He sent Commodore John Aulick to accomplish these tasks, but before Aulick left Guangzhou for Japan, he was relieved of his post and replaced by Commodore Matthew Perry. A lifetime naval officer, Perry had distinguished himself in the Mexican-American War and was instrumental in promoting the United States Navy’s conversion to steam power. …On July 8, 1853… Perry led his four ships into the harbor at Tokyo Bay, seeking to re-establish for the first time in over 200 years regular trade and discourse between Japan and the western world.”–
“Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations”

The opening of Japan to trade with the United States led to an exchange in both directions of an enormous number of products and technology along with the intermingling of Eastern and Western arts and cultural. Curiosity on both sides was immense and influenced the development of music, costume, food, architecture, and other aspects of modern life for a generation to come.

To document this important moment in history, writer Francis L. Hawks (1798-1866) was hired to compile and published Perry’s Narrative of the Expedition in an illustrated edition for the U.S. Congress and trade edition for the American public. This was complicated by the fact that, at that time, there was no Government Printing (later Publishing) Office but separate printers for the House of Representatives and for the Senate. Nathaniel Beverly Tucker (1820-1890) was an American journalist who was elected Public Printer for the United States Senate from 1853 to 1857 and Alfred Osborn Pope Nicholson (1808-1876), a lawyer from Tennessee, was elected Public Printer of the United States House of Representatives.

Article I, section 5 of the Constitution requires that “each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings and from time to time publish the same.” After years of struggling with various systems of contracting for printed documents that were beset with scandal and corruption, in 1860 Congress created the Government Printing Office as its official printer.– Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond

On January 12, 1855, the Senate was the first to place an order for Perry’s Narrative, requesting 5,000 copies, with 500 to be given to Perry and 500 for the U. S. Navy. The following month, the House of Representatives demanded that a copy of the Navy’s report be given to their printer so that 10,00 extra copies be printed along with the 500 for Perry.

“In Senate of the United States, January 12, 1855, ordered to be printed and that 5,000 additional copies be printed; five hundred of which for the use of Commodore Perry. January 29, 1855, ordered that 500 copies be for the use of the Navy Department.”

“In the House of Representatives, February 14, 1855, Resolved. That the Secretary of the Navy be requested to communicate to this House a copy of the report of Commodore M.C. Perry on the subject of the late expedition to Japan; and if said report shall not be completed before the expiration of the present session of Congress, then to deliver the same to the Clerk of the House during the recess. Resolved. That 10,000 extra copies of the said report, together with the maps, charts, and drawings, be printed and five hundred additional copies for the use of the said Commodore M.C. Perry.”


Eliphalet M. Brown preparing to make a daguerreotype.


At the time, the animosity between Tucker and Nicholson was such that they had taken each other to court the previous year, claiming the other was responsible for work and/or compensation in the printing of government documents. In fact, both men were subcontracting the work to the same printing office of Cornelius Wendell and in 1858, the New York Herald broke a story of corruption in the “fat” jobs held by the Congressional printers, which led to both Tucker and Nicholson leaving their positions and eventually to the formation of the Government Printing Office in 1860.

A history of the Government Printing Office:

It was during this litigation that they undertook the printing of Perry’s Narrative, presumably ordering up to 10,500 copies, all printed in the same shop of Cornelius Wendell, with exactly the same text and images, bound in three volumes. A smaller trade edition was printed and published in one volume by D. Appleton and Company in New York City with the tinted lithographs from watercolors by Wilhelm Heine (1827-1885) and daguerreotypes by Eliphalet M. Brown (1816-1886) reproduced as wood engravings.

“Some of the volumes issued by the Government in the past have been very elaborate and expensive. In looking over the subject, it appears a mystery how so much money could be put into a single volume.” Navel Expedition to Japan, 3v. $140.851.30 in 1856–R. W. (Robert Washington) Kerr (born 1841), History of the Government Printing Office (Lancaster, Pa., Inquirer Print. and Pub. Co., 1881). Graphic Arts Collection 2006-3271N


The only difference between the Senate and HoR volumes at Princeton is volume two, which has the colored plates bound recto in one, and verso in the other. Below, in the smaller single volume, Heine’s drawings are slightly changed. See Heine sketching right.


This post is one of two in our Department of Special Collections today about the same phenomenon in the Western world through the lens of different collections under our care, as people throughout Europe and North America had a sudden fascination with all-things Japanese in the latter half of the 19th century. April C. Armstrong, Special Collections Assistant, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, is posting on the “West meets East Japanese themes in Princeton’s graphic arts of the late-19th-century.”

Another post planned in the coming weeks from Emma Sarconi on the Manuscripts News blog will show what our collections have to tell us about “The Mikado,” a Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera set in Japan that was first performed in London in 1885 and quickly spread throughout the English-speaking world—even, it appears, to the extent that a group of students named their eating club after it.


More about the book’s illustrations:


Color separation for Scribner’s Magazine 1905

The beautiful color illustrations in Scribner’s Magazine were of course thanks in part to the artist of the original painting or drawing but much credit also goes to the artist who did the color separations for each tone or section of the picture. Did them by eye, not photoshop or even a camera. Without these precise zinc or stone plates and the right mixture of colored inks, the true beauty of the painting would not have survived the translation into print.

The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have a number of proofs for the individual color plates that were combined to form a single image, such as the plates for the story “An Impressionist’s New York” by H.G. Dwight, illustrated by Walter Jack Duncan (1881-1941) and published in Scribner’s Magazine November 1905. Here is a taste of that work.







The Second Wave and more

The Graphic Arts Collection continues to collect folk and tribal art from South Asia as it relates to the pandemic. In Mithila artist Nisha Jha’s “Second Wave”, she focuses on wearing masks, sanitizing, and vaccination as critical to stemming the spread of the virus. The border depicts the coronavirus being injected with the vaccine and “making this world corona-virus free.” In another section, she’s painted a Covid-19 vaccination center. The work also highlights how individuals in the informal sector adjusted to preserve their livelihoods in the midst of the pandemic, e.g. vegetable sellers who turned to offering masks and sanitizer.


Graphic Arts has also recently expanded the focus for this collection to include themes related to women’s experiences in India. One example is “Today’s Modern Woman” by Vinita Jha. This work reimagines the goddess Durga by replacing the traditional items in her hands with contemporary ones – (clockwise) an infant, a spray bottle for cleaning, a cup of coffee, a smart phone, a child, an iron, a shopping bag, and a griddle and spatula.


Nisha Jha (also the creator of “The Second Wave” and daughter of Vinita Jha) questions what constitutes an auspicious marriage in her painting “The Hungry Man of Dowry.” Here she has depicted the bride as the Kāmadhenu, or Cow of Plenty, who brings a BMW, a Royal Enfield motorcycle, a computer, and other luxury goods into her new marriage.


Thanks to Ellen Ambrosone, South Asian Studies Librarian, for this guest post.

Claud Lovat Fraser

Claud Lovat Fraser by Marion Neilson, gelatin silver print, 1913. National Portrait Gallery NPG P966

From 1911, when Claud Lovat Fraser left a law clerkship to devote himself to art, until 1921 when he died at the young age of 31, this prolific artist was responsible for dozens of poetry broadsheets, magazine and book designs, theatrical set and costume designs, and much more.

Princeton University Library holds 72 titles in various collections beginning with the broadsides published by Fraser, Holbrook Jackson, and the poet Ralph Hodgson under the imprint of the “Sign of the Flying Fame.” After World War I, Fraser’s designs were distributed by Harold Munro’s celebrated Poetry Bookshop at 35 Devonshire Street.


Graphic Arts holds Rhyme Sheets from both Fraser’s first and second series, along with many bound volumes from Munro’s shop.


It is difficult to get a sense of Fraser as a man until you see the two portraits held in London’s National Portrait Gallery. The first, above, is a charming Pictorialist headshot that leads one to assume he was a handsome, even dashing young man. The second, below, tells a different story of a large man in ill health, who aspired to an elegance in his work that he could not attain in real life.

Claud Lovat Fraser by Powys Evans, lithograph, 1922. National Portrait Gallery NPG D33422

Haldane Macfall wrote in The Book of Lovat (1923), that Fraser was “Romantically modern,” calling him “the last of the dandies.”  He goes on to say “His keen sense of Humour early warned him that his bulk, his stature, his heavy form, would have fitted ill with the slender elegancies of the powdered wig, brocaded coat, and knee-breeches; and with laughing philosophy he compromised before his frank mirror between art and God’s design of him by leaning towards the years of the Regency…”

Here are a few more of Fraser’s wonderful pochoir designs.

Drawn to be printed

Charles R. Macauley (1880-1934), A Yankee in Czar Nicolas’ Court, no date. Pen and ink on board. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2006.01949

The Graphic Arts Collection holds many drawings, paintings, and sketches prepared to be photographed and wood engraved for magazine illustrations. Most artists did not create finished work to be framed, but linear work that reproduced well for large runs on steam presses.

In searching recently for the original work of art, needed by a researcher who had only the half-tone reproduction, we found a number of works that had never been connected with the magazine issue where they were printed and published. Here are five such examples.

If anyone has the time to search them, it would be wonderful to connect the drawings with the printed story in Harper’s, Scribner’s, or other early 20th-century magazine. *This is not as easy as it sounds.


William Charles Morris (1874-1940), The End of a Perfect day in Italy, ca. 1936. Pen and ink on paper. Grpahic Arts Collection GA 2009. 00077


Angus MacDonall (1876-1927), Untitled [Firemen’s Parade], 1912. Pen and ink, gouache on paper. Graphic Arts Collection GA2006.02607.




Angus MacDonall (1876-1927), Father Time: Humph! They’re Showing No Regard for Me! 1911. Pen and ink, gouache on board. Graphic Arts Collection GA2006.02606


Phil Porter, Untitled [Theodore Roosevelt sharpening enormous pencil inscribed Magazine Editorship], no date. Pen and ink on paper. Graphic Arts collection GA 2006.01950


Vivicolor inserts for college yearbooks 1930

Berté Water Colour Printing. Vivicolor Inserts (Buffalo: Vivicolor Company, 1930). Also acquired 1929 edition and Jean Berté Water Colour Inks (Belleville, NJ: Wallace & Tiernan Products, ca. 1929). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2021- in process

Pochoir (stencil) printing makes beautiful color images but is expensive and difficult to master. To get the same look in less time Jean Berté (1883-1981) patented an innovative process that used rubber plates and water-based inks printed letterpress. Beginning in 1926, he sold dozens of licenses in the United States along with equipment, inks, and presses specifically designed for this process. In Europe, where pochoir was still preferred, few printers even tried the new method.

It is difficult to know which companies bought a license to the process for their own use and which Berté himself directed. The Vivicolor Company in Buffalo began producing Berté color plates for various uses, including inserts or sectional title pages for college yearbooks. Each sheet has a one-word heading such as Activities; Administration; Advertising; etc., along with an image designed around a particular theme. In 1930 you could choose from 13 different series such as Colonial American, Indian, Modernistic, Ultra-Modern, Moorish, Grecian, Alma Mater, Medieval, and Louis XIV.

Some of the artists hired to design these series included John Held Jr., Bertram Glover, Ellsworth Jaeger, and Norman Kent among others. Vivicolor guaranteed that “no two schools within 25 miles of each other would have the same inserts.”

Here are some details from John Held Jr.’s series with the full plate and text cropped to focus on the printed image.




Engravings by Suor Isabella Piccini (1644–1734)

For several years, the Graphic Arts Collection has been adding Venetian books with engravings by Isabella Puccini. Adding them one at a time.

Thanks to the extended collecting of David Rueger, Antiquariat INLIBRIS, Vienna, Princeton now holds 60 titles containing engravings signed and identified as Piccini’s, the vast majority from her lifetime. As the picture above illustrates they represent a wide variety of physical formats, as well as subject matter. There are both secular and religious commissions including medicine, history, law, and pageantry as well as theology and devotion.

Rueger mentions he took particular care to select items poorly represented in institutional holdings; 22 of our new acquisitions were not currently recorded in any American library. Here is a brief list by author and an annotated list by chronology. All scholarship goes to Rueger.
Piccini inventory short by name

Piccini inventory chronological

Within these books are approximately 257 engravings attributable to Piccini, plus one unbound sheet. It is our hope that Princeton University Library will become a destination collection for the study of female engravers, as well as Venetian illustrated books. Perhaps this acquisition will even inspire someone to write the definitive catalogue raisonné of this important artist’s work.

Not with frail chisels, brushes, or pens
Does she work, who lives in a humble convent,
But in pure metal creates immortal works,
She paints with a skilled hand, she engraves, and she writes.


Princeton’s collection begins in 1663 when, at the age of 19, Piccini pulled her first known engraving. In her early twenties, she became a novitiate of a Franciscan convent and took the nom de religion Isabella. Note, our collection does not include the work with the signature ‘I. Piccini’ which belonged to her father, Jacopo Piccini. Rueger comments:

Other nuances also become apparent: for example, the frontispiece to the 1669 La Ricreatione Del Savio In Discorso Con La Natura is signed simply ‘Piccini f.’ However, we know that Isabella was professed as a nun in 1666, and subsequently (as illustrated in the present collection) shifted her signature to reflect her religiosity. Instead, the 1669 frontispiece of the Ricreatione del Savio must be the work of Jacopo Piccini. Nevertheless, this frontispiece is commonly attributed in institutional records to Isabella, based solely on the ‘Piccini’ signature. Such indications start to become clear only when a critical mass of examples can be gathered in one place, as we hope to have done with the present collection.

One of the most exciting inclusions in the present collection is a book fully illustrated by Piccini relatively early in her career: “Memorie Funeste de’ Fatti Dolorosi occorsi nella Passione amarissima dell’ Unigenito Figlio di Dio” (1682) [seen above] which was subsequently ordered to be burned. Although recorded as such in the Index, we have been unable to trace another surviving copy. Needless to say, the book’s engravings have never been acknowledged as Piccini’s work before, but shed remarkable light on the nun’s willingness to undertake projects with notoriously suspect publishers like Giovanni Giacomo Hertz and authors like Michele Cicogna.




See also:
Luisa Di Vaio, “Suor Isabella Piccini,” in Grafica d’arte. Milano, 2003.

Anna Francesca Valcanover, “Contributi ad una storia del libro illustrato veneto: suor Isabella Piccini,” in Biblioteche venete. Abamo Terme, 1985.

Bellarmino Bagatti, “Un’ artista francescana del bulino: Suor Isabella Piccini,” in Studi francescani. Firenze, 1931.

For more biography, see the entry in the Enciclopedia delle donne:

In Medias Res


Was it fate that brought the package from Dublin to the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton exactly on Bloomsday, June 16, 2021, or just good planning? In the midst of the annual celebration for James Joyce’s Ulysses, we acquired a special limited edition copy of In Medias Res, The Ulysses Maps, A Dublin Odyssey. The portfolio is comprised of seven drypoints by David Lilburn—Phoenix Park, The Quays, O’Connell St., Loop Bridge, Eccles Street, Coastline, Howth—which together form a map of a large part of Dublin and its environs. In particular, they include the areas of the city that feature prominently in Ulysses.


Hand-printed from zinc plates on Hahnemuhle paper, each sheet has additions of chine collé and watercolor applied by the artist. The publishers write:

“Constructed from a multiplicity of drawn marks and viewpoints, the work is packed with references to the topography of Dublin and plots fragments, characters, anecdotes, conversations, historical events and classical allusions all mentioned or implicit in the text. The work enables the viewer to orientate himself or herself within Dublin as it appears in Ulysses and as it is today and to follow the routes taken by various characters in Ulysses as they crisscross the city throughout 16th June 1904.”

While they can be exhibited in sequence, the artist composed each individual print so that it would also function as a completely self-contained image. All seven prints are reproduced on the artist’s website, so we are posting only a few spectacular details from this complex work. Special thanks to Stoney Road Press for their help in the acquisition.




It is with sadness that we learned the artist, David Lilburn, passed away on Wednesday last (July 28, 2021) after a brief period of illness. Lilburn studied history at Trinity College, University of Dublin, 1969-73; lithography at Scuole istituto statale d’arte, Urbino 1973; and art & design at Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD), Limerick Institute of Technology, 1980-83. Together with Jim Savage, he was also an occasional publisher. Here is a bibliography from his Occasional Press (apologies if I’m missing some):

A Connemara folio: a Ballynahinch sketchbook / Teskey, Donald, artist. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press in collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2011

An afterglow: a gallery of Connemara poems / Lally, Des.; Fallon, Peter, Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press in collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2010

Ballynahinch postcards: poems / Fallon, Peter, 1951- Aghabullogue, Co. Cork, Ireland: Occasional Press in collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, 2007

Being there: an introduction to the work of Joe Wilson / Wilson, Joe; Dunne, Aidan. [Aghabullogue, Co. Cork]: Occasional Press in association with the West Cork Arts Centre, 2006

Berger on drawing / Berger, John, author.; Savage, Jim. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork, Ireland: Occasional Press, 2005, 2007, 2008.

Fountainstown / Cross, Dorothy, 1956-; Cross, Dorothy, Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press, in collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2012

In Connemara: O’Dea, Mick, 1958-; Savage, Jim. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press in a collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2017

Into the mountains: images from the Twelve Bens / Wilson, Joe, 1947- artist.; Tóibín, Colm; Savage, Jim. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press in a collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2014

John by Jean: fifty years of friendship: photos of John Berger / Mohr, Jean, photographer. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork, Ireland: Occasional Press, 2016

Montenotte / Cross, Dorothy, 1956-; Cross, Dorothy, Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press, in collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2012

Pony / Curtis, Tony, 1955- author.; Lilburn, David, Aghabullogue, County Cork, Ireland: Occasional Press, 2013, ©2013

The Celtic zoo: a report back on the state of modern Ireland in 24 satirical watercolour drawings / Fitzgerald, Tom, 1939- artist.; Dorgan, Theo. Aghabullogue, County Cork: Occasional Press, 2014

The idea of islands / Hubbard, Sue.; Teskey, Donald. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press, 2010

This flight tonight: Captain John Alcock & Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown’s non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Ireland 14th-15th June 1919 / Curtis, Tony, 1955- author.; Lilburn, David, Aghabullogue, County Cork, Ireland: Occasional Press in collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2019

Walking drawing making memory: a Ballynahinch sketchbook / Lilburn, David, artist. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press in a collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, 2009