Category Archives: prints and drawings

prints and drawings

The Many, Many Roads to Heaven and Hell

There are many woodcuts and broadsides depicting the roads to heaven and hell. Thanks to Bruce Willsie, Class of 1986, the Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have a rather curious variation. It isn’t, as many are, published ca. 1840 by Gustav Peters in Harrisburg, PA or ca. 1830 by Herman William Villee in Lancaster PA, or even the 1825 series printed by François Georgin in the printshop of Jean-Charles Pellerin, Epinal, France.

The woodcut now at Princeton titled Das Neue Jerusalem was published by “Chez Dekherr, Montbeliard, Doubs, France,” the only one found from Alsace so far. As are most of the variations, the text is in German and the devil in the lower right is closer to, but not exactly the same as the one at the Library of Congress [below], dated simply 1800s:

The Library Company of Philadelphia has:Note these later Pennsylvania Dutch broadsides show only three people walking to heaven, one being African American. They are holding burning lamps while the folks below say “give us some oil” because they have no light.


The British Museum [above] has a copy of Das neue Jerusalem (The New Jerusalem) published in Wissembourg and printed by C Burckardt between 1850 and 1870. “No.17. Deponirt / Druck u. Verlag v. C. Burckardt’s Nachf. Weissenburg (Elsass). This version of hell is closer to Cornell University’s The 3 Roads to Eternity (Les 3 Chemins de l’Eternite), which is held in their “Persuasive Maps” collection. [see below] They date it 1825, printed by Francois Georgin, “a popular and accomplished woodcutter in the printshop of Jean-Charles Pellerin, in the Vosges mountain village of Epinal”. For full details on references, see

Cornell’s copy

The Heimatmuseum Trostberg has this 1845 Epinal version, with the door to hell oddly closed.One of the Epinal woodblocks looks ready for printing.


Our devil is the only one who stares directly at the viewer and there are many extra beasts and bodies embedded in Princeton’s copy. Note the dainty Whore of Babylon.

The British Museum has William Blake’s pen and ink and watercolor drawing of The Whore of Babylon also holding a chalice, 1809

Here is Albrecht Dürer version of the Whore of Babylon, woodcut ca.1496-97. She is in the bottom right, it takes a minute to find her.

Read more:
Christa Pieska, “The European Origins of Four Pennsylvania German Broadsheet Themes: Adam and Eve; the New Jerusaslem – The Broad and Narrow way; the Unjust Judgment; the Stages of Life.” Der Reggeboge 23 (1989) 1, pp 13-22 Firestone ReCAP F160.G3 R43

Russell D. Earnest, Flying leaves and one-sheets: Pennsylvania German broadsides, Fraktur, and their printers (New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, 2005). Marquand Library Z209.P4 E23 2005

Don Yoder, The Pennsylvania German broadside (University Park, PA : Pennsylvania State University Press for the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania German Society, 2005). Firestone Library GR110.P4 A372 vol. 39


Thank you to all the institutions that posted images online, which I have pulled together to compare for educational purposes.

International Xiloprint Exhibition 2019

A new collection catalogue was received today from the Casa da Xilogravura Museum in Campos do Jordão, Brazil, where they just launched a bilingual website:

“The Casa da Xilogravura Museum was created by Antonio Fernando Costella, a lawyer graduated from the Law School of Largo São Francisco. Also [a] journalist, Costella was university professor and to this day he is head of the initiatives of the museum.”

Printers take note: The Museum is scheduling a major international exhibition: XiloPrint 2019 and writes “The Xylography Museum invites all the engravers of the world to take part in the International Xiloprint Exhibition 2019 Brazil.”

Every printmaker in the world is asked to send one woodcut or wood engraving through November 30, 2018, to
Museu Casa Da Xilogravura
Caixa postal 42
12460-000 Campos do Jordão

Moby Dick crosses over

Congratulations to our colleagues at the Princeton University Art Museum, where the exhibition Frank Stella Unbound: Literature and Printmaking opened this weekend and can be seen through Sunday, September 23, 2018. The show features a number of books from our collections and highlights Stella’s inspiration from literature. Organized in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the artist’s graduation as a member of the Class of 1958, the exhibition will travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville.

See above our three volume Moby Dick, with prints by Rockwell Kent, installed so you can see Stella’s responding print on the wall. Label copy gives the viewer a quote from the book’s text, rather than an art historical commentary.

“Frank Stella Unbound: Literature and Printmaking focuses on a revolutionary period in the artist’s printmaking career, between 1984 and 1999, when Stella executed four ambitious print series, each of which was named after a distinct literary work: the Passover song Had Gadya, a compilation of Italian folktales, the epic American novel Moby-Dick, and the illustrated The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. In the four series titled after these sources, Stella created prints of unprecedented scale and complexity, transforming his own visual language—as well as his working process in all media—and reaching a technical and expressive milestone in printmaking.”—PUAM press release.

See more:

First Roller Coaster

Today I was introduced to one of the earliest pictures of a roller coaster. It first appeared in Gaudia Poetica by Frederick Calvert, sixth Baron Baltimore, 1770 [at the bottom], but the better printing is eight years later in  John Glen King’s Letter to the Bishop of Durham, 1778 [at the top]. Here are some close-ups, along with a review of the book where it is found.

“The ingenious and learned Dr. King is guilty of what may be called literary teasing in his pamphlet, …But the description of the use of the flying mountains at Zarsko Sello, accompanied with an explanatory plate, is a greater curiosity than any we remember to have met with before, concerning this country. We cannot resist the temptation of giving the description, though it must appear imperfect without the plate, of which reason, we recommend the purchase of this very cheap publication.

‘Of all the winter diversions of the Russians the most favourite, and which is peculiar to them, seems to be that of siding down a hill. The late empress Elizabeth was so fond of this diversion, that, at her palace of Zarsko Sello, she had artificial mounts of a very singular construction, made for this purpose (of which I here give your lordship a plate.) These have been called by some Englishmen who have visited the spot, the Flying Mountains, and I do not know a phrase which approaches nearer to the Russian name.’

‘You will observe that there are five mounts of unequal heights; the first and highest is full thirty feet perpendicular altitude; the momentum with which they descend this, carries them over the second, which is about 5 or 6 feet lower, just sufficient to allow for the friction and resistance, and so on to the last, from which they are conveyed by a gentle descent, with nearly the same velocity, over a piece of water into a little island.’

‘These slides, which are about a furlong and a half in length, are made of wood, that they may be used in summer as well as in winter. The process is, two or four persons fit in a little carriage and one stands behind, for the more there are in it, the greater the swiftness with which it goes; it runs on castors and in grooves to keep it in its right direction, and it descends with a wonderful rapidity. Under the hills, is a machine worked by horses for drawing the carriages back again with the company in them. Such a work as this would have been enormous in most countries, for the labour and expense it cost, as well as the vast q1uantity of wood used in it.’” London Magazine, or, Gentleman’s Monthly intelligencer 47 (1778): 228-9.

John Glen King (1732-1787), A Letter to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Durham: containing some observations on the climate of Russia, and the northern countries, with a view of the Flying Mountains at Zarsko Sello near St. Petersbourg (London: Printed for J. Dodsley, 1778). RHT copy: Presentation copy to David Garrick with inscription by author. RHT 18th-339

Frederick Calvert, Sixth Baron Baltimore (1731-1771), Gaudia poetica: Latina, Anglica et Gallica lingua composita ao. 1769 (Augustae: Litteris Späthianis, 1770). Engravings by Hubert François Gravelot, Jeremias Wachsmuth and Jacob Wangner. Includes folding plate “The Flying Mountains,” a railway in Catherine the Great’s garden at Tsarskoe Selo. Ex Oversize 3617.235.1770

London Magazine article (1778) begins at XXVIII above and continues below

Prang’s American Chromos

Thanks to the recent donation by Hollie Powers Holt, we are the proud owners of a Louis Prang and Company chromolithograph after Benjamin Champney (1817-1907) entitled North Conway Meadows, 1870. The print is still in its original frame with the Prang stencil identification on the back, exactly as it would have been purchased and hung in the last quarter of the 19th century.

Benjamin Champney’s signature and date (1870) can be seen at the bottom right.
This print should not be confused with other similar harvest scenes by Champney. The best place to double check is the hay in the center, which in this view is already on the cart.


Louis Prang Company after Benjamin Champney (1817-1907), North Conway Meadows, ca. 1870. Varnished and framed chromolithograph on canvas. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process. Gift of Hollie Holt.

See another:




O heart take notice! A transformation letter

Letter completely folded. Possible translation: A letter to me and you is easy to give. The postage is low, accept it eagerly. The content is about you, me, and everyone; the places we go, that is and means, O heart take notice!

First unfold

Second unfold

Third unfold

Side one

Side two

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired this religious transformation letter, divided into nine panels each front and back, with rhyming couplets to match the engraved illustrations.

Scenes include Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden; the crucifixion; and an overall message of the transience of life. The work is described in the August 2, 1835 issue of the Allgemeine Kitchenzeitung,  where it is called a wonderful new invention. The author writes, in part:

… Now you lift the lower and last cover of the letter, the same figures appeared, from the head to the loins in the same clothing, but from then on to the feet as the most hideous skeletons, with a few Symbols that are supposed to reinforce fear in the mind and imagination. For example, with a corpse lying in a coffin, eaten by greedy snakes seen everywhere …

Rare Books and Special Collections holds a number of similar books and prints–sometimes called Harlequinades or Turn-Ups or Metamorphosis or Transformation books–but this might be the first one in German. The English and French examples are much earlier. See a few more: See also Cotsen collection, Print case LA / Box 11465710.


Ein Brief an mich und Dich ist cito abzugeben. Das Porto ist gering, nimm ihn begierig an. Der Inhalt zielt auf Dich auf mich und Jedermann, der Ort wohin her soll, der ist und heisst, O Herz merk’s eben!. [No Place, no printer, 1835]. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process

What about the author who doesn’t want to be illustrated?


At the beginning of Balthasar Anton Dunker’s 1787 collection of etchings designed to “serve the different editions” of Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s Panorama of Paris, there is a notice to the public stating (roughly translated): “The Publishers of this series of little sketches for the Panorama of Paris, have thought it would be very agreeable to the public to see beside the most interesting Chapters of this book, figures which represented to the eyes what Mr. Mercier said with so much elegance & precision.”

The name of the publisher who wrote this note is conveniently omitted since Mercier was explicit in his disdain of painters, sculptors, engravers, and the other visual artists of the day. All eight volumes of Mercier’s book were specifically published without illustrations or decoration of any kind.

In The Unfinished Enlightenment [Firestone PQ265 .S72 2010], historian Joanna Stalnaker notes:

“Tableau de Paris [is] peppered with venomous condemnations of painting and painters. Painting, the ‘idiot sister’ of poetry, is ‘a childish production [un enfantillage] of the human mind, a continually impotent enterprise that is in most cases laughably intrepid.’ And painters are ‘the most useless men in the world, charging exorbitant prices for an art that in no way interests the happiness, tranquility, or even the pleasures [les jouissances] of civil society; a cold and false art of which any true philosopher will sense the inanity.” .

On the other hand, Mercier often equates his writing with painting, stating “I held nothing but the brush of the painter in this work” and referring to his text as “mots-couleurs” or word colors. Dunker must have noticed this and for the frontispiece to his accompanying etchings, the artist begins with a personification of Paris turning away from a physical painting labeled “Tableau of Paris.” The caption: “Let’s put our brushes together! Let’s see black!”

The chapters from Mercier’s book chosen to be illustrated by Dunker are predominantly those dealing with the arts, leading readers to wonder whether the artist is having fun at the author’s expense, rather than simply illustrating him. Perhaps Dunker is the satyr on the frontispiece, peering out at Mercier from behind his canvas.


Balthasar Anton Dunker (1746-1807), Tableau de Paris, ou explication de différentes figures, gravées à l’eauforte, pour servir aux différentes éditions du Tableau de Paris (Yverdon: [publisher not identified], 1787). SAX DC729. D765 1787

Louis-Sébastien Mercier (1740-1814), Tableau de Paris (Amsterdam: [s.n.], 1782-1783). ReCAP Ex 1514.635.1782 v.1-8



Can anyone make out the Latin below?

La tour de trois cents mètres

Detail of photogravure after Louis-Emile Durandelle (1839-1917), printed by Société des imprimeries Lemercier and published by Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) in La tour de trois cents mètres (1900).



Throughout the construction of the Eiffel Tower, from January 1887 to March 1889, many photographers documented the Tower’s progress as it rose over Paris. By the time of the Universal Exhibition of 1889, the photographs were almost as popular as the site itself.

The most complete record was produced by the firm Delmaet and Durandelle, led by Louis-Emile Durandelle (1839-1917) and Clémence Jacob Delmaet (died 1890), the wife of his former partner who he later married.

As one of the leading architectural photographs of the 19th century, Durandelle established his reputation documenting the construction of Charles Garnier’s Paris Opéra from 1862 to 1875. Durandelle and Delmaet also photographed the reconstruction of the Hôtel-Dieu (1868) and the abbey of Mont-Saint Michel (1874-78), and the construction of the Bibliothèque Nationale (1870), Sacré-Cœur (1877-90), the theater at Monte Carlo (1880) and the Eiffel Tower (1887-89).

In 1889, Delmaet and Durandelle published an elaborate album of 58 albumen silver prints of the construction of the Eiffel Tower and then, one year later he retired, selling the firm to his assistant.

Louis-Émile Durandelle (1839-1917), Travaux de construction de la Tour ([Paris: s.n., 1887-1889]. 58 albumen silver prints from collodion glass negatives. Previously owned by Adolphe Salles, the son-in-law of Gustave Eiffel. Ex 2017-0004E


In his biography of Gustave Eiffel, David Harvie writes,

“There had been considerable use made of photography during the tower’s construction, and apart from rather formal engineering records, there are many sequences showing the advancing construction taken from precisely fixed camera positions. The great French architectural photographer Louis-Emile Durandelle, who with his partner Hyacinthe-César Delmaet had photographed the construction of Charles Garnier’s Paris Opera and the basilica of Sacré-coeur in Montmartre, also undertook a long series of painstaking, large-format photographs of the building of the Eiffel Tower.

These photographs were masterpieces of the difficult nineteenth-century wet collodion process, and certainly did not constitute popular or commercial exploitation. … Durandelle’s photographs reignited the claims for the tower’s beauty in a way that natural human observation somehow didn’t, and helped ensure that the controversy over the tower’s presence and its aesthetic qualities would be brought to an end”— Eiffel: The Genius Who Reinvented Himself (2006)

When the Tower was complete and the well-earned celebrations ended, Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) partnered with the Lemercier printers to publish a complete record of the design, engineering, and construction of the project from beginning to end. The two limited-edition volumes were prepared at the author’s expense and distributed free of charge to libraries, universities, and scientific societies. To augment his own documents, Eiffel arranged to have 11 of the Delmaet and Durandelle photographs (and 2 small details) transferred to copper plates and printed in photogravure for the monumental conclusion of these books.

Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923), La tour de trois cents mètres (Paris: Société des imprimeries Lemercier, 1900). “Il a été tiré de cet ouvrage 500 exemplaires sur papier vélin, numérotés”–Verso of half-title page. Ex oversize Item 7599347q and oversize item 7599727e.

This was one of the last great projects for Imprimeries Lemercier & Cie, which had been one of the largest of the French publishing houses, known not only for their spectacular lithographs but also for their photogravures (sometimes released under the imprint Héliog. & Imp. Lemercier).

Unfortunately, after the death of their founder, Rose Joseph Lemercier and the rise of photomechanical printing at the end of the 19th-century, the shop was forced into bankruptcy. There is no record of a single individual responsible for the printing of the copper plates.

Albumen silver prints [above and below] from collodion glass plate negative by Louis-Émile Durandelle (1839-1917), published in Travaux de construction de la Tour (1889).


Thanks to Eric White, Curator of Rare Books, who acquired these volumes and is allowing them to be used in the upcoming exhibition “Turning Light into Darkness,” documenting our photogravures.


This portrait and short life-path of Wilhelm Weber

Dieses Bildniß, und kurtzen Lebens-Lauff, Wilhelm Webers. Dieses Bildniss und kurtzen Lebens Lauff, Wilhelm Webers, gewesenen gekrönten Poeten und Spruchspechers in Nürnberg, verehret die hinterlassende Witwe … Nuremberg, bey mir Anna Maria Weberin, hinterbliebenen Wittiwen, zu finden, bey St. Jacob, [1661]. Graphic Arts Collection 2018- in process

Although Dante never received a laurel wreath during his lifetime, Wilhelm Weber (1602-1661) was honored as Poet Laureate in 1647 at the age of forty-five. Thanks to a recent acquisition, the Graphic Arts Collection now holds two variant broadsides celebrating Weber, both published in 1661, the year of the poet’s death in Nuremberg. The central focus of both are similar engraved portraits of Weber wearing his twelve honorary medals.

Eigentliche Bildnuß, Deß Ersamen Wilhelm Webers... was published by Hans Weber, presumed to be the poet’s son, with a publication line: “Dieses Exemplar ist zufinden bey mir Hannß Weber, bey S. Jacob auffm Hohenpflaster.” The second: Dieses Bildniß, und kurtzen Lebens-Lauff, Wilhelm Webers... was published by his widow Anna Maria Weber, has the publication line: “Dieser Spruch, ist bey mir Anna Maria Weberin hinterbliebenen Wittiwen, zu finden, bey St. Jacob.”

According to Werner Wilhelm Schnabel, “A form of poetry situated outside the world of the cultural elite flourished in the 17th century. One of the best-documented representatives of this genre was the “Spruchsprecher” Wilhelm Weber . . . [who] worked as a journalist and publisher, and also as a contract poet and popular elocutionist.” A spruchsprecher was a spokesperson who recited rhymes, told stories, and spoke at public events, weddings, and New Year’s Day celebrations. More details on Weber and his broadsides can be found in Poets Laureate in the Holy Roman Empire by John Flood (2011).

One of Weber’s own New Year’s broadsides and other publications about the poet can be found in the digital collection of the State Library in Berlin. Too bad there is no broadside to celebrate the 22nd U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry of the United States, Tracy K. Smith, Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor of the Humanities, Director and Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University.


Eigentliche Bildnuss : Dess Ersamen Wilhelm Webers, gekrönten Teutschen Poeten, und Spruchsprechers in Nürnberg, seines Alters 60. Jahr ([Nuremberg] : Dieses Exemplair ist zufinden bey mir Hannss Weber, bey S. Jacob auffm Hohenpflaster, [1661]). Text ends: So hat gesprochen/ Wilhelm Weber. Graphic Arts Collection Q-000551.


Comparing them in size below:

Japanese matchbook labels

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a collection of 425 or more matchbook labels, mainly Japanese although there are a handful of Scandinavian and German examples. The color is wonderfully bright and fresh. Here’s a small sample.

A great list of international links, if you want to see more:, then click on links.