Category Archives: prints and drawings

prints and drawings

Poésie pour pouvoir

Henri Michaux (1899-1984), Poésie pour pouvoir. Text and frontispiece by Michaux. Design and linocuts by Michel Tapié (Paris: René Drouin, 1949). Copy XII of 46, signed by Henri Michaux et Michel Tapié. Teak wood portfolio printed with the title and fitted with 34 steel nails. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process. Provenance: Collection of Geneviève and Jean Paul Kahn.

Is there a way to release the magic of poetry stagnating within conventional printed literature? Can you make a book with the power to exorcise a condition or complaint? These are some of the questions that led to Poésie pour pouvoir, with poetry by Henri Michaux (1899-1984) integrated into pictorial linocuts by Michel Tapié (1909-1987) and published in February 1949 by Galerie René Drouin in Paris.

Only a handful of copies of this singular “book-object” as Michaux and Tapié conceived it with the nailed wood cover were completed, in fact only two others can be found in North America besides the one now held in the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton University.

A seminal work of post-war Paris, the story of Poésie pour pouvoir’s production is also magical. It began in the late 1930s with Michel Tapié’s involvement in “Les Réverbères,” a neo-Dada group, which led to his collaboration with Aline Gagnaire on the hand-printed publications Le Cheval de 4 and Deda L-E. Tapié eventually joined René Drouin’s gallery as artistic advisor, focusing on the promotion of a wide circle of artists that included Henri Michaux.

 

In 1947, Henri Michaux and his wife traveled to Egypt, where the magical power of hieroglyphics inspired the poems, “Je rame” and “À travers mers et desert.” These texts went unpublished until Tapié proposed to “put them into a space in the form of a book-object.”

Using the crisp, quick black and white technology of linoleum block printing that Tapié perfected while working with the Réverbères, he designed and cut Michaux’s words so they fluctuated between white text on black shapes and black text on white pages incorporated with his own abstract figures. The majority of the 46 copies were produced with only a paper cover.


A full recounting of the year leading up to February 1949, when the final work was exhibited at Drouin’s gallery, can be found in Tapié essay “Commentary on an exorcism,” Les Cahiers de la pléiade 1950.

“…. Mon projet de départ était de graver ce texte sur lino, le lino étant la technique la plus brutale et la plus directe des violentes oppositions de noir et de blanc, et de présenter l’ensemble des tirages dans une couverture de bois clouté, l’ensemble du travail étant jour par jour suivi et approuvé par Henri Michaux; L’esprit d’aventure qui préside aux activités de René Drouin poussa celui-ci à accepter le risque d’édition avec enthousiasme, et il mit l’équipe de sa galerie à notre disposition pour une rapide réalisation. Rapide en effet il le fallait; Michaux nous avait bien prévenus: si nous n’allions pas vite, le poème, lui, irait plus vite que nous et se retournerait contre nous… je pus assez vite graver tous les éléments n nécessaires à l’édification de la maquette complète.

The book’s construction took place at the Drouin family farm, under the daily supervision of Michaux. René Drouin (1905-1979) chose the arrangement of the nails on the covers, Aline Gagnaire (Tapié’s former collaborator) pieced together the wooden cover, and Drouin’s son, Jean-Claude, cut the nails to be hammered into the cover (originally plywood and only later teak wood).

Tapié was almost done with his share of the printing when he became ill and could not finish, leaving it to Gagnaire to complete the book. So many things went wrong, they called it was a cursed project, fueling the myth of a magical book.


As for his part, Michaux wrote:

 “La force exceptionnellement opératoire de ce poème, jointe au fait de son élection unique, centrant justement sur ce texte toutes les intentions d’intervention-de pouvoir-de l’auteur, me donna une furieuse envie d’en faire une édition où je tenterais de forcer les usages du livre dans le même rapport d’échelle qu’Henri Michaux l’avait fait ici par rapport non pas seulement à la poésie, mais même, comme je ne le sentis d’ailleurs que bien plus tard, à l’usage, par rapport à ses plus efficients exorcismes. Le problème consistait à fabriquer un objet receleur de force supportant ce texte de sorte que sa vue, son contact, tant épidermique que musculaire provoque au maximum l’expansion effective de cette force, puisque magie il y avait.

 

It is a tragedy that OCLC no longer allows local notes. To find copies that include the rare nailed wood cover, a reader must log into every library in the world individually. Otherwise they would not know, for instance, that Houghton Library has copy no. V with “unbound sheets, as issued, laid into original printed paper covers; in original hinged wooden boards, with title printed on cover, decorated with metal studs. In burlap-covered board slipcase.”

It was Tapié’s idea to pound nails into the wooden binding using the same aggressive energy as Michaux’s incantatory texts. The action references the practices of the Romans, who manufactured defixion or curse tablets, as well as African practices of incorporating nails into power figures called nkisi nkondi. The physical hammering of the nails into Poesie pour pouvoir was meant to embed magical powers into the book, just as Tapié’s pictographs unleashed the power in Michaux’s words.

 


Galerie René Drouin closed in 1950 (later revived in a different format), Michel Tapié went on to promote Art informel, from which Michaux distanced himself, continuing to draw and write in his own personal style. No other magic book-objects were attempted.

 

For more on this and other works by Michaux, see Raymond Bellour’s Henri Michaux Ouvres Complete (Gallimard, “Bibliothèque de la Pléiade”, 1998), https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uva.x004550124&view=1up&seq=1276&q1=%22poesie%20pour%20pouvoir%22

Henri Michaux (1899-1984), Commentaire d’un exorcisme ([Paris: Librairie Gallimard, 1950?]). Beach 3269.96.325. Presentation copy to Sylvia Beach with inscription by Henri Michaux.

 Le Cheval de 4 (Paris: M. Tapié, A. Gagnaire, J. Jausion, H. Bernard, 1940). Graphic Arts Collection Q-000727. Issued in 4 fascicles. Each has a separate title: [no. 1] “Le Cheval de 4” (“tirage limité à 26 ex. hors commerce et 6 ex. de luxe”) ; [no. 2] “Dédal-e” (“Tirage limité à 28 ex. hors commerce et 3 ex. de luxe”) ; [no. 3] “Huit poèmes pour Cécile / Noël Arnaud” (tiré à 150 ex. environ dont 35 de luxe) ; [no. 4] “Expédition Tapié” (tiré à 27 ex.).

 

 

Also designed by Michel Tapié while at Galerie René Drouin: Francis Picabia (1879-1953), 491 (Paris, René Drouin, 4 mars 1949). Marquand Oversize ND553.P58 T36 1949e. “50 ans de plaisirs” par Michel Tapié. Catalog in newspaper format issued Mar. 4, 1949 for Picabia exhibition of 136 works dated 1897-1949.

 

A section of Poetry for Power in translation:
I row
I have cursed your brow your belly your life
I have cursed the streets your steps pursue
The objects your hand grasps
I have cursed the inside of your dreams

I have put a puddle in your eye and it no longer sees
An insect in your ear and it no longer hears
A sponge in your brain and it no longer understands

I have chilled you in the soul of your body
I have frozen you in the depth of your life
The air that you breathe suffocates you
The air that you breathe has an air of cellars
Is an air that has already been exhaled that hyenas have expelled

The dung of this air no one can breathe any longer

Your skin is moist all over
Your skin sweats the sweat of the great fear
Your armpits exhale from afar an odor of crypts
The animals halt when you pass
The dogs howl in the night their heads raised toward your house

 

 

 

Print Scam or Good Business?

In the summer of 1860, the Philadelphia lithographers and partners Edward Herline (1825-1902) and Daniel Hensel (1830-1919) came up with a marketing scheme to sell a fine art print, supposedly an edition of 75,000 engravings, after “one of the most celebrated artists that ever lived.” No picture was shown. Today, no copy of this print has yet to be found in an institutional collection.

Did they get away with something? Thanks to a recent request for information, a broadside announcing the sale was found in the Graphic Arts Collection, and many American newspapers carried their advertisements. A close reading of these sources reveals many inconsistencies, beginning with the name of the original artist: Ruben, not Rubens.

The print being offered by Herline & Hensel (630 Chestnut Street) in August 1860 was a lithograph after Christian Ruben (1805-1875), variously titled: Columbus, First sight of the new world, 1839, currently hanging at the National Gallery in Prague. While you might enjoy this German artist’s work, he is not the most celebrated artist that ever lived. And an engraving is not a lithograph.

Columbus, New World, 1492, The First Sight of the New World (Columbus discovering America). Found in Bridgeman’s Collection and in Worldcat

Christian Ruben (1805-1875), Columbus, First sight of the new world, 1839. Oil on canvas. National Gallery in Prague.

The broadside begins:

P.S. Herline & Co. having just published over 75,000 copies of the magnificent engraving of Christopher Columbus and his crew on board the ship Santa Maria . . . are now prepared to offer extraordinary inducements to private individuals, not only by selling a single copy at the publishers’ lowest wholesale price, but by distributing a portion of the profits of the sale among the purchasers.

This beautiful engraving and extraordinary work of art was designed by the world-renowned Rubens [sic], one of the most celebrated artists that ever lived; the cost of the original design and plate being over $80000. The artist has done great credit not only to himself but to the picture, in the extraordinary manner in which he has portrayed upon the countenances of all on board, the various emotions and feelings felt at the moment land was discovered. Some are reaching forth their hands, as if they would embrace the distant land; others …

Any persons enclosing in a letter $1.00 for the engraving (and fifteen cents to pay for postage and roller to send engraving on). And forwarding the same to us by mail shall receive by return of mail this magnificent engraving and also, immediately after the 30th day of Aug 1860 one of the following valuable Gifts will be sent to each and every subscriber. Schedule of gifts: Everybody who buys an engraving gets a gift! Remember in sending orders to us you are dealing with an honorable firm – men of wealth, who are not only able but willing to do all they agree to: whose place of business is on the most fashionable thoroughfare in the city of Philadelphia.

From Wikipedia: Christian Ruben. Born in Trier, Ruben studied in Düsseldorf under Peter von Cornelius from 1823, and in 1826 settled in Munich, where he worked on the designs for the new stained glass windows for the Regensburg Cathedral and for a church in Auer. In 1836 he worked on designs for the decoration of Hohenschwangau Castle, and produced oil paintings as well. In 1841 he was appointed director at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, where he decorated the belvedere with wall paintings. He also painted a hall for the Prince of Salm and three altarpieces for the church in Turnau (modern-day Turnov, Czech Republic). From 1852 to 1872 he was director at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, where he died in 1875. One of his sons, Franz Ruben, was also a painter.

Rockland County Messenger, Volume XV, Number 13, 17 May 1860:

Magnificent engraving of Christopher Columbus and his crew. This Beautiful Engraving was designed by Rubens, one of the most celebrated artists that ever lived; the cost of the original design and plate being over $8000, size 22 by 29 inches. The Philadelphia Daily News, says, “the mere nominal sum asked for the engraving is a sufficient inducement for persons to purchase without the additions Gift.” Schedule of gifts. To be given to the purchasers. For full particulars, send for a Bill. Together with a great variety of other valuable gifts, varying in value from 50 cts to $25. Any person enclosing in s letter $1 and five 3 cent Postage stamps (to pay for postage and Roller) shall receive, by return of mail, this magnificent engraving of Christopher Columbus, (and one of these valuable gifts as per Bill.)

 

 

Besides ebay, are there any copies of this print in permanent collections and did anyone win the $5,000?

Miss traveling? Unusual histories and wonderful experiences commenced in the year 1660

Eduward Meltons, Engelsch Edelmans, Zeldzaame en gedenkwaardige zee- en land-reizen: door Egypten, West-Indien, Perzien, Turkyen, Oost-Indien, en d’aangrenzende gewesten; behelzende een zeer naauwkeurige beschrijving der genoemde landen, benevens der zelber jnwoonderen gods-dienst, regeering, zeden en gewoonten, mitsgaders veele zeer vreemde voorvallen, ongemeene geschiedenissen, en wonderlijke wedervaringen. Aangevangen in den jaare 1660. en geeindigd in den jaare 1677. Vertaald uit d’eigene aanteekeningen en brieven van den gedagten heer Melton, en met verscheidene schoone kopere figuuren versierd...(Amsterdam. 1702). Second edition. Nine of the plates, including the added engraved title page, were engraved by Jan Luiken (1649-1712); others engraved by Jacob Harrewijn (1660-1727). Graphic Arts GAX 2020- in process

= Eduward Meltons, English noblemen, Rare and memorable sea and land journeys: through Egypt, West-Als, Persians, Turkyen, East-Als, and neighboring regions; comprising a very accurate description of the countries mentioned, in addition to the self-inhabiting religion, government, morals and customs, as well as many very strange occurrences, unusual histories, and wonderful experiences. Commenced in the year 1660 and ended in the year 1677. Translated from the notes and letters of Mr. Melton’s own notes and letters, and adorned with several beautiful copper figures

With an added engraved title page with title Eduward Meltons Zee en land reizen door verscheide gewesten des werelds = Eduward Melton’s Sea and Land travel through various parts of the world.

The Graphic Arts Collection acquired this compilation of travel accounts from various sources by the fictitious Eduward Melton, attributed to Godofridus van Broekhuizen.

The part relating to Egypt has been identified as a translation of Johann Michael Wansleben’s Nouvelle relation en forme de iournal, d’un voyage fait en Egypte (Paris, 1677; London, 1678). Rare Books 2272.68958.332.6. No plates

The part relating to New Netherland is thought to be an abridgement of Adriaen van der Donck’s Beschrijvinge van Nieuw-Nederlant (Amsterdam, 1655). Rare Books EXKA Americana 1655 Donck; With the introduction to that part being taken from Arnoldos Montanus’s De nieuwe en onbekende weereld (Amsterdam, 1671). Rare Books Oversize 1075.651q


The part relating to the West Indies is in part taken from Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin’s De Americaensche zee-rooveres (Amsterdam, 1678). Rare Books EXKA Americana 1678 Exquemelin. See more at the John Carter Brown Library: https://jcblibrary.org/collection/engelsch-edelmans-zeldzaame-en-gedenkwaardige-zee-en-land-reizen

Jan Luyken or Luiken or Luijken (Dutch, 1649-1712) studied under the painter Martinus Saeghmolen. He married Marie de Oude on 5 March 1672 and had five children, all of whom died young, except for Caspar, the eldest. Shortly after 1673, having been enthralled by the religious teachings of Jacob Böhme, he became a fanatical Pietist. Jan Luyken was a member of the Haarlem guild in 1699 and returned to Amsterdam in 1705. His large output of engravings totalled some 3,275, and he was also an author.–Benezit Dictionary of Artists

Detail of Slave Market

A New Asiatic Melo Drame, Called The Africans or, The Desolate Island

Perhaps the earliest and most charming image of Richardson’s Theatre at the Bartholomew Fair appeared in Rudolph Ackermann’s Microcosm of London (1808-10), etched and aquatinted by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Pugin. (Graphic Arts Collection Oversize Rowlandson 1808.02f).

Led by John Richardson (1767-1827), the outdoor productions at Bartholomew and Greenwich Fairs were said to rivaled those of the London theaters. “Richardson first opened his theatrical production at Bartholomew Fair in 1798 using scenery from Drury Lane. The performances took place in a narrow booth (100 feet by 30 feet), colourful and brightly lit. The show toured, in the London area, to such fairs as Southwark, Brook Green and Greenwich. Over time, Richardson’s booth expanded, and he ran several performances simultaneously, and he could stage over a dozen burlesques and melodramas each day. By 1828, the price of admission was sixpence, and refreshments were another profit source for the troupe. The young Edmund Kean learned his craft here, before moving on to a more respectable theatrical environment. After Richardson’s death, the show was continued until 1853 by Nelson Lee.—Victoria & Albert collection database

According to the British Library, “Bartholomew Fair was under almost constant attack from City authorities during the 18th and 19th centuries for the immorality and drunkenness that was often witnessed there. The salacious theatre productions on show were of particular concern to moral reformers, as was the ability of the fair to keep the working population from their daily employment. Theatrical shows were eventually banned from the site in the 1840s following several public disturbances, and the fair itself was prohibited entirely by the City of London authorities in 1855.”

Thomas Rowlandson, Greenwich Fair with Richardson’s booth [detail]. Pen and brown and grey ink, with grey wash and watercolour. 1811-1816. British Museum. ‘Richardson’s Show’ (part of this composition) was etched by the artist and published in ‘Rowlandson’s World in Miniature’, 1816, pl. 14. Graphic Arts Collection Rowlandson 1816.5

“Richardson’s platform was lined with green baize, festooned with crimson curtains, and lighted with fifteen hundred variegated lamps. His money takers sat in Gothic seats. He had a band of ten beefeaters, and a parade of his dramatic force.”

 

Thomas Rowlandson, People watching Richardson’s Travelling Theatre on stage. Etching, 1816. Welcome Institute.

 

”In 1825 William Hone described [Richardson’s] theatre at Bartholomew Fair. Its frontage was a hundred feet wide and thirty feet tall, with a spacious elevated platform, or ‘walk-up’, in front. This was decorated in green baize with fringed crimson curtains and contained two Gothic arches into the theatre behind, where the money takers sat. Fifteen hundred lamps in chandeliers, clusters and festoons illumined the walk-up, where a band of ten played and actors in costume paraded or danced in sets. Charles Dickens described “the company now promenading outside in all the dignity of wigs, spangles, red-ochre, and whitening. See with what a ferocious air the gentlemen who personates the Mexican chief paces up and down and with what an eye of calm dignity the principal tragedian gazes on the crowd below, or converses confidentially with the harlequin!” — Robert Leach, An Illustrated History of British Theatre and Performance (2018).

 


The Africans or, The Desolate Island [broadside] (London: Hughes, 1800). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

The broadside states: “J. Richardson feels happy that the revolving time gives him an opportunity of once more expressing his heartfelt gratitude to his generous patrons for their former kindness, and assure them, from the close of last season to the present period, his every exertion has been used to render this year’s entertainments worthy that support they have on all occasions honored him with, and which his attention to their convenience and amusements will, he hopes, convince them of, an addition of Twenty New Scenes, by the first artists in London, and a daily change of performances, entirely novel, will still continue him that success is shall at all times be his pride and study to deserve, when will be performed a new Asiatic melo Drame, called The Africans or, The Desolate Island.”

 

Look inside this cabinet of wonders, a beautiful rarity


Open the cabinet door, inscribed “Schöne rarität, schöne spielewerk” (Beautiful rarity, beautiful game work), and you will see what others are viewing through the peep holes at the sides. This volume has two engraved plates with movable flaps, along with eight others engraved by Christian Friedrich Boetius, Johann Benjamin Brühl, and Georg Paul Busch after designs by David Richter.

 

Later in the volume, two wide  tables open to let the viewer see inside the two tents, guarded by several antelope.


The stories are credited to Jean Chretien Toucement, the pseudonym for Johann Christian Trömer (1697-1756), a Franco-German dialect poet at the court of Augustus the Strong. The Oxford companion to German literature by Henry and Mary Garland describe the author:

 

Jean Chretien Toucement des Deutsch Franc̦os schrifften, mit viel schön kuffer stick, kanss complett, mehr besser und kanss viel vermehrt. Leipssigck, Bey die auteur und ock bey Johann Christian Troemer [1736]. Graphic Arts 2020- in process.  Note the date written in a rebus at the bottom of the title page.

Princeton also holds the later 1745 edition, with many plates reprinted.

 

 

 

Trade cards for pianos and organs

The Graphic Arts Collection includes many boxes of chromolithographed trade cards. Here is a section of piano and organ companies, mixed with a few videos so you can hear the sound of the reed instruments. A brief video introducing the Estey Organ Company is at the bottom.



William Gray’s Social Contrasts [of women]


William Gray, Social Contrasts, Portrayed in a series of twenty two coloured lithographic plates from pen and ink sketches (London: William Oliver, 3 Amen Corner, Paternoster Row. And all Booksellers, no date [1865]). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

In Victorian London, women were either good or bad, wealthy or poor, public or private, lucky or out of luck. There was no in-between. While this lovely volume offers charming lithographic plates, it also highlights the lack of options for women at that time. A successful performer is seen “Coming out in the lime light” but at the end of the night “Going Home in the Rain.”

Gray’s work was enthusiastically advertised in the March 31st issue of The Bookseller (1865), which promoted the “magnificently-coloured lithographic plates, copied from the original coloured pen and ink sketches” designed and executed by William Gray. In the same issue, the editor comments,

Mr William Oliver, who has recently commenced business in Amen Corner, Paternoster Row, publishes a volume, which in its way, is the most striking thing we have seen since the appearance of George Cruikshank’s “Bottle”. It is by a new artist, William Gray, and is entitled “Social Contrasts” … All are thoughtful studies, and preach more impressive sermons on a painful subject, than even Mr. Spurgeon [Charles Spurgeon the noted preacher] or the Bishop of Oxford could deliver. Shall we add that like many other erring objects, the pictures in this volume are so pretty, that we look on them with great enjoyment’ (p. 157).

“the most striking thing we have seen since the appearance of Greoge Cruikshank’s Bottle”

 

George Cruikshank (1792-1878), The Bottle: in eight plates designed and etched by George Cruikshank (London: published for the author by David Bogue; New York: Wiley and Putnam; Sydney, New South Wales: J. Sands, 1847). Graphic Arts Collection Oversize Cruik 1847.6eq

Ida Saint-Elme, the Female Casanova

Ida Saint-Elme on the left, Daumier on the right

Ida Saint-Elme (née Maria Johanna Elselina Versfelt, 1776-1845), La caricature française. Journal sans abonnées et sans collaborateurs [= French Caricature. Journal without subscribers and collaborators] no I-XXV [= all published]. (London: Privately published, 1836). Bound with: Album de la correspondance du prince émigré. Londres, privately published. Imprimerie de Schulze et Cie 1836. Bound with: Portrait d’Alibaud, avec sa défense interrompue par les pairs et des confidences sur sa vie intime, d’une jeune francaise, publié par Mme. Ida St. Elme, 1836. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

 

The Dutch writer, explorer, and actress Maria Johanna Elselina Versfelt (1778-1845) was also known as Ida Saint-Elme; Elzelina av Aylde Jonghe; and by her pseudonym La Contemporaine. The Getty’s union list of artist names adds: Elzélina van Aylde Jonghe and Elzélina Tolstoy van Aylde-Jonghe.

Her moniker “the Female Casanova” came after she published her eight volume memoir Mémoires d’une contemporaine, 1827-28 [recap 1509.178.7913], which emphasized her romantic adventures. Perhaps to escape this celebrity, she spent the next few years sailing the Nile and exploring Egypt, publishing a six-part travelogue La Contemporaine en Egypt.

Later, while working as a manuscript dealer in London, she also published a satirical magazine modeled after Charles Philipon‘s La caricature, which she called La caricature francaise. Journal sans abonnées et sans collaborateurs. This is possibly the earliest satirical magazine written, illustrated, and published by a woman. However she stole many images directly from Philipon’s magazine, such as her copy of Honoré Daumier’s 1833 lithograph “Ah ! Tu veux te frotter à la presse !” from La Caricature.

 

“One of the most unusual results of the September Laws was the founding in March 1836 of a French caricature journal in exile, La Caricature Françoise. It was published anonymously (by the Bonapartist intriguer Ida Saint-Elme) in London, in order to escape censorship, at an office it dubbed “The Crowned Pear.” This new extremely rare tabloid-sized weekly, which lasted only six months, consisted of four pages of text and included on the title page a woodcut caricature which was often copied from drawing previously published in Philipon’s journals.” –Robert Justin Goldstein, Censorship of Political Caricature in Nineteenth-century France, 1989.

“The magazine contained letters from the king, whether or not forged, which ridiculed him. In April 1841 this led to a legal process against Versfelt, the so-called “Procès des lettres”. But the court could not prove that the published letters were actually falsified and Versfelt was therefore not convicted. But many English prominent people considered her a forger. After this Versfelt left for Belgium, where she would live until her death in 1845. She died on 19 May 1845, blind and penniless, in a hospice in Brussels. She was buried in an anonymous grave.” ~ Enne Koops
https://historiek.net/maria-versfelt-biografie-vrouwelijke-casanova/135805/

Die Heilige Lanze = The Holy Lance

Johann Friedrich Fleischberger (baptised 1631-buried 1665), Eigentliche Abbildung deẞ Speers mit welchem unsererm Heiland Jesu seine heilige Seite eröffnet worden … J. F. Fleischb[erger] sculp. [Nuremberg], Johann Friedrich Fleischberger [for] W.V., [c. 1660]. Graphic Arts Collection 2020- in process

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a small engraved broadside of the Holy Lance as kept in Nuremberg, surrounded by explanatory calligraphic text and scale measurements. The text that comes with it from the dealer is quoted here:

A rare illustrated broadside which celebrates the Holy Lance not only as a relic and a powerful component of the Imperial Regalia, but also – crucially – points out its historic archaeological importance as an antique weapon. The broadside was commissioned by an as yet unidentified art and armor collector, ‘W.V.’ who asked the Nuremberg engraver J. F. Fleischberger (baptised 1631, buried 1665) to copy it, to scale in reduced form, and adorned its illustration with explanatory text. The text gives a short historical overview about the importance of the Holy Lance, and ends with the note that the broadside was commissioned and paid for by an admirer and collector of old armor, ‘Solchen hat nun ein Liebhaber der Alten Waffen vorstellen lassen nach dem verjüngten Maẞstab’ [= A lover of old weapons has now had such a thing introduced according to the reduced standard’].

The Holy Lance was believed to have been used by the Roman centurion Longinus to probe and pierce the side of Christ when he hung on the cross, to ascertain his death. It is a relic of immense symbolism and power and is considered one the most important pieces of the Imperial Regalia. The Holy Roman Emperors came into possession of the Holy Lance in the 10th century, and in 1424 it was given by Emperor Sigismund to Nuremberg (to be kept there in perpetuity) and was kept there as part of the Imperial Regalia used in subsequent Imperial coronations. It was only moved to Vienna (where it is still kept in the Imperial Treasury) when the French Revolutionary troops threatened Nuremberg in 1796.

 

In addition, our rare book division acquired an uncommon dissertation by the Nuremberg lawyer Spies (1710-1778) on the importance of the Holy Lance in Nuremberg as part of the Imperial Regalia rather than as a relic. The Praeses, or thesis advisor, was the historian Johann David Köhler (1684-1755), professor in Altdorf since 1711, first of Logic then History, and whose supervised dissertations are regarded as important contributions to scholarly discourse. See below:

Wolfgang Spies. Dissertatio historico-critica de Imperiali Sacra Lancea non inter reliqvias Imperii sed clinodia referenda: cvm problemate de novo S. R. I. officio archi-lanciferatv / Qvam svb moderamine magnifici Academiae Rectoris domini Iohannis Davidis Koeleri P. P. Altdorf, Daniel Meyer, December 1731. Rare Books EX 2020- in process

 

The Holy Lance, displayed in the Imperial Treasury at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria.
Die Heilige Lanze = The Holy Lance. Karolingisch, 8. Jahrhundert Stahl, Eisen, Messing, Silber, Gold, Leder 50,7 cm lang. Carolingian, 8th century Steel, iron, brass, silver, gold, leather 50.7 cm long.

See also: http://www.historynaked.com/nurembergs-secret-vault/

 

The British Museum has:
“The relics, vestments, and insignia of the Holy Roman Empire; in the centre of the print is the lance of St Maurice with inscription at its top; to the left and right of the spear are other relics in five rows, all accompanied by an inscription. Woodcut with hand-colouring , Nuremberg, 1470-1480. Inscription in six lines, accompanying the lance: “Dz ist dz sper domit xpo sein heilig seite ward auff gethan und der nagel dr xpo in sein rechten hand geschlage ward.”

“The Imperial Regalia and relics repicted in this print were preserved from 1424-1796 in the Heilig-Geist Kirche in Nuremberg, and were exhibited on the Feast of the Holy Lance on the Helitumsstuhl in the marketplace across from the Frauenkirche. Some of the objects were lost in the removal from Nuremberg during French occupation; the others are kept in the Schatzkammer in Vienna. Descriptions of them were printed in book-form in Nuremberg in 1487 and 1493 and it is highly likely that this print was also published in Nuremberg. Apart from the lance of St Maurice, the representations of the objects are stylised and do not resemble their originals.”

 

 

Hoffmeister

The Graphic Arts Collection acquired this collection of 36 caricatures of political and cultural figures including Adolf Hitler, Jean Cocteau, James Joyce, and Boris Pasternack.


The following biography is from Granta’s interview with Adolf Hoffmeister (1902-1973) was a poet, novelist, translator and editor.

He edited one of the main Czech daily newspapers, Lidové noviny [1928-30; AP52 .xL45f] and the main literary paper, Literární noviny [1930-32; *QVA 90-2443]. He was also a talented artist and caricaturist, often illustrating his own work. Hoffmeister set up an anti-fascist magazine, Simplicus, in the 1930s after the German satiric magazine Simplicissimus was banned by the Nazis.

He also wrote the libretto for a children’s opera, Brundibar, https://princeton-nml3-naxosmusiclibrary-com.ezproxy.princeton.edu/catalogue/item.asp?cid=EDA15 with music by the Czech composer Hans Krása in 1938; the opera was performed fifty-five times by children in Terezín concentration camp where Krása was interned. Hoffmeister emigrated to France in 1939, but moved on to Morocco when France fell. There, he was arrested but escaped from an internment camp and arrived in New York via Lisbon and Havana in 1941.

He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945 and worked for UNESCO. After the Communist coup in February 1948, Hoffmeister was named French ambassador by the new neo-Stalinist regime but was recalled shortly after. He worked then as a lecturer in fine art at the Academy of Applied Arts. After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Hoffmeister emigrated to France once again in 1969, but decided to return in 1970. He died three years later in the Orlický mountains, judged by the regime to be a non-person. https://granta.com/contributor/adolf-hoffmeister/

 

“In December 1941, he delivered a lecture entitled “Caricature as a Weapon” at the Workers’ House in New York, and several months later, he launched a “No One Will Win the War for Us” lecture tour across the United States. During this time, Hoffmeister and Pelc participated in several joint exhibitions and created drawings for magazines.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer Public Ledger, 24 Dec 1941: 12

 

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Adolf Hoffmeister, AH34, Visages (Prague: S.V.U. Manes, 1934). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process