Category Archives: prints and drawings

prints and drawings

What happens when a play is a flop but the poster is a hit?

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (1872–1898), Avenue Theatre, A Comedy of Sighs! March 29, 1894. Printed by Stafford & Co. Ltd., Nottingham. Color lithograph and letterpress. Purchased by the Friends of the Princeton University Library in memory of Ben Primer. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

Thanks to the Friends of the Princeton University Library, the Graphic Arts Collection has a new lithographic poster by Aubrey Beardsley, purchased in memory of Ben Primer (1949-2019).

[William Butler] Yeats and {George Bernard] Shaw had a mutual friend in Florence Farr (1860–1917), who had created Blanche in Widowers’ Houses. She became manageress of the Avenue Theatre in 1894, and set out with a group of others to flout convention with the production of avant-garde plays. Their season opened with Dr. John Todhunter’s The Comedy of Sighs and Yeats’s The Land of Heart’s Desire in a double bill, but Todhunter’s play was a failure and was replaced by Arms and the Man, with Florence Farr as Louka….– W. B. Yeats, Autobiographies (London: Macmillan, 1955) pp. 281–4.

The poster (and program) announcing these two plays was design by the hot young illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, who Farr wisely commissioned to handle her advertising. It was his first and still, best known poster with a rare use of color. As soon as it was posted around town, all of London society began talking.

Already recognized for his infamous illustrations of Le Morte D’Arthur and Salomé (images first published in Pall Mall Budget magazine), Beardsley was seen as a controversial but hugely fashionable new artist. He associated with the British Decadents, inspired by the American expatriate James McNeill Whistler, along with the notorious Oscar Wilde.

The poster opened a Pandora’s box on the Decadents’ use of eroticism and sexual ambiguity in their imagery. Charles Hiatt described its initial reception “nothing so compelling, so irresistible, had ever been posted on the hoardings of the metropolis [of London] before. Some gazed at it with awe, as if it were the final achievement of modern art; others jeered at it as a palpable piece of buffoonery; everybody, …was forced to stop and look at it.” —Le livre, revue du Monde Littéraire 5 (November 1884): 356.

The Japanese influence in the title calligraphy and flatness of the overall design led to questions of racial blending, while the dot pattern over the female’s face and body were read as a suggestion of syphilis and sexual promiscuity. To research the topic further, see the soon to be released Picture World: Image, Aesthetics, and Victorian New Media by Rachel Teukolsky (Oxford University Press, 2020), selections already available on google books.

Here is one of several humorous pieces published in Punch, this one April 21, 1894. The magazine told the theater’s manager (in Cockney slang) to “ave a new poster,” obviously a pun on the word Avenue.

 See more:

La victoire remportée par l’armée du roi

Almanach pour l’an de grâce M. DCC VIII. La victoire remportée par l’armée du roi commandée par / monsieur le Duc de Barvick sur les anglois et portuguais pres Dalmanza le 25 avril [The Victory Won by the King’s Army Ordered by the Duke of Berwick on the English and Portuguese Near Almanza on April 25] Paris, chez P. Gallays, rue Saint Jacques a Saint Francois de Sales, [1707]. Engraving in two sheets. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process


This spectacular depiction of the French victory over the Hapsburgs at the 1707 Battle of Almanza is the second of two French almanac prints recently acquired by the Graphic Arts Collection. Although printed in large runs and sold at low prices, these broadsides were often destroyed at the end of each year to make room for the new almanac print, making them quite rare in collections today.


In the large scene, James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick (1670-1734), is seen with other officers after their victory. FitzJames was the illegitimate son of James Duke of York (later King James II) and Arabella Churchill (1648-1730, sister of John Churchill duke of Marlborough). On April 25, 1707, he won a great and decisive victory at the Almanza, where an Englishman at the head of a Franco-Spanish army defeated Ruvigny, a Frenchman at the head of an Anglo-Portuguese-Dutch army. Vignettes on either side of the almanac show the 1707 battle and the subsequent surrender.

The last great event of the War of the Spanish Succession occurred on September 11, 1714, when his soldiers stormed Barcelona after a long siege. In that year, he was appointed a Knight of the Golden Fleece. This scene appears in a later almanac print.

Pierre Gallays (1677?-1749) was an engraver who made a career out of publishing large runs of popular prints with dramatic historical scenes. The son of a Parisian merchant, in 1702 he married Élisabeth-Louise de Heuqueville (died 1735), daughter of the Parisian bookseller Louis II de Heuqueville and widow of the printer/publisher Pierre Landry (died 1701). Gallays inherited the business Landry established and continued his success in marketing these patriotic prints.


Fin de la guerre ou la paix conclue …

Almanach pour l’année M. DCC XIV. Fin de la guerre ou la paix conclue entre les Princes Chretiens par leurs Plenipotentiaires assemblez à Ultrach 11e avril mil sept cent treize. [End of the War or the Peace Concluded between the Princes Christians by their Plenipotentiaries Assembled in Utecht April 11th 1713]. Paris, chez Gerard Jollain rue St. Iacques a l’Enfant Iesus, 1713. Engraving in two sheets, Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process.



The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired two French almanach prints, the first of which is shown here. Thanks to curator Rachel Jacobs, Waddesdon Manor, and her exhibition “Glorious Years,” we know these almanacs were “created at speed, involving a team of artists, specialized engravers, poets, printers, and publishers. Printed in the thousands, they were relatively cheap and available to the middle classes. A calendar is essential for everyday life. …replaced annually [they] were not designed to last.”

During the height of their popularity, there may have been up to ten scenes published for a particular year by private presses, such as this one issued by the printer/publisher François Gérard Jollian (active 1684-1719). The scenes were sanctioned by the King to celebrate his victories. Here we see the signing of one of the treaties of Utrecht, also called Peace of Utrecht, which brought the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) to an end.

By the treaty with Britain (April 11), France recognized Queen Anne as the British sovereign and undertook to cease supporting James Edward, the son of the deposed king James II. At the top of the print are three allegorical figures of peace holding portraits of King Louis XIV and Queen Anne. Three personifications of war are at the bottom holding portraits of the failed rulers. Note the fireworks in the center cartouche. Along the sides are detailed borders presenting twelve different seals of European nobility.


Many of the same scenes turn up in a variety of popular prints, such as L’idée de la paix conclue entre les Hauts alliés et les françois dans la ville d’Utrecht le 11 avril et ratifiée le mai 1713, published in Amsterdam.

The “Opportunity” Art Folio

As a subscription incentive in 1921, The New Republic magazine published and sold Six American Etchings, a portfolio of fine art prints by major American artists including John Marin, Edward Hopper [left], and others (Graphic Arts GA 2007.01456).

When Forbes Watson took over as editor of The Arts magazine in 1923, he also published several portfolios of contemporary fine art prints (four appear in OCLC) under the series title The Arts Portfolio Series. Both these series are now found in the print departments of major American museums.

Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life editor Charles S. Johnson offered several promotions to his readers, beginning in December 1925 with a small advertisement that read “What could be a more welcome Christmas gift than The Book of American Negro Spirituals.”  Edited by James Weldon Johnson, the volume included 61 spirituals with arrangements by J. Rosamond Johnson and Lawrence Brown. No images are provided and no extra subscription accompanied the purchase.

The second “Opportunity special” was advertised in the December 1926 issue as a deluxe portfolio of six poetry broadsides with text by Langston Hughes and off-set lithographs by Aaron Douglas, each of which had appeared in the pages of the October issue. They were marketed as the Opportunity Art Folio [portfolio cover above] and thanks to the Beinecke Library, they can be seen in digital surrogates here: . This is how they appeared originally:

Later, published as: Langston Hughes (1902-1967) and Aaron Douglas (1899-1979), Six Poems (New York: Opportunity [Johnson], 1926) 6 leaves in portfolio.

The first poem, “Misery,” is accompanied by “Play De Blues.”
The second poem, “Down an’ Out,” joins “I Needs A Dime For Beer.”
The third poem, “Lonesome Place,” is together with “Weary As I Can Be.”
The fourth, “Bound No’th Blues,” joins “On De No’thern Road.”
The fifth, “Hard Luck,” is with “Ma Bad Luck Card.”
The sixth poem, “Feet o’ Jesus,” accompanies an untitled print.



The “Third Opportunity Special!” listed on the title page of the December 1927 issue was the small book entitled Ebony and Topaz (An Opportunity Collectanea). An Eldorado of Art and Literature by Distinguished Arts and Writers, selling for $2.00. Guaranteed to be ready for Christmas, it was to include two hitherto unpublished poems by Phyllis Wheatley, artwork by Richard Bruce, Frank Holbrook, Aaron Douglas, and Charles Cullen, along with stories, sketches, and poems by approximately 40 writers.

By 1928, the only special Christmas offer was a handsomely bound copy of Who’s Who in Colored America for $10, which would also get you a year’s subscription to Opportunity. Unfortunately no library in OCLC mentions a copy with a special binding.

Göttingen University Library

After Georg Daniel Heumann 91691-1759), Bibliotheca Büloviana Academiae, Georgiae Augustae donata Göttingae – La Biblioteca della Università di Göttinga – Di Universitäts Bibliothec zu Göttingen [Augsburg: Georg Balthasar Probst, 1760/70s). Hand colored engraving. Graphic Arts Collection 2020- in process


Inside Georg Daniel Heumann’s True representation of the City of Göttingen [also called Wahre Abbildung der königl. gross britan. und churfürstl. braunschw. lüneb. Stadt Göttingen, ihrer Grund-Lage, äusserl. und innerlicher Prospecte und der zur Georg Augustus Universitaet gehörigen Gebäude; gezeichnet und in Kupffer herauss gegeben] (1747), plate 7 is an engraving of the Göttingen University library. Founded thirteen years earlier in 1734, this ‘book hall’ was located in the converted rooms of the former Pauline monastery.

Later in the century, Augsburg publisher Georg Balthasar Probst (1732-1801) copied and colored the engraving to release as a vue d’optique or perspective print to be used with a zograscope or optical box. This reprinting has entered the Graphic Arts Collection of perspective prints.

“Initially, the Pauliner Church was part of a Dominican monastery founded in Göttingen in 1294. It represents an architectural style typical of the mendicant orders. In 1529, in the wake of the Reformation, the first Lutheran services were held in the Pauliner Church, since it was the largest church in town. Between 1542 and 1733, a newly founded secondary school, the so-called Paedagogium, was located in the building of the former monastery.

In 1733, Prince-Elector Georg August of Brunswick-Lüneburg, who, as George II, was also King of Great Britain and Ireland, decided to found a regional university in Göttingen. One year later, in 1734, the university library was set up in a hall belonging to the former monastery. Three years later, the ceremonial opening of Göttingen University took place in the Pauliner Church. The university also had its home in the former monastery, and the Pauliner Church went on to be used as the university church and as a venue for university events.”

…During the Second World War, in 1944, the Pauliner Church was largely destroyed …. From 2000 to 2006, the whole of the Historical Building was refurbished. Careful attention was paid to the reconstruction of the Historical Hall in the Pauliner Church on the basis of historical depictions. After only six months of work, the Historical Hall [below] was re-opened in its former guise on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition ‘Gutenberg and his impact’.”–

It is a nice complement to another bookseller print, one of Probst’s five allegorical prints to the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn.

Mercurius, Planetarum Quartus, Ejusque Influentia (Augsburg: Georg Balthasar Probst, 1700s). Hand-colored engraving. Graphic Arts collection, Princeton University Library. GA2007.03748

Artists of “Opportunity”

The artists of Opportunity, the monthly publication of the National Urban League edited by Charles S. Johnson, were always identified in the table of contents but almost never given further biographical details in magazine’s “Who’s Who” or other text. Here are some of the leading graphic artists from the late 1920s, before photography took over. Perhaps not surprisingly, some were Black and some White. Covers are printed on a tan stock that photographed grey here.


Winold Reiss, “Langston Hughes,” Opportunity 5, no. 3 (March 1927).
Winold Reiss (1886–1953) No information is provided by Opportunity, even in “Who’s Who.” A White German American artist, Winold Reiss arrived in New York City in 1913, where he soon began creating sensitive representations of African Americans and Native Americans. “Reiss’s depictions avoided the racist stereotypes common at the time.” Along with his student Aaron Douglas, Reiss illustrated The New Negro: An Interpretation, a collection of Harlem literary works by Alain Leroy Locke, the first African American Rhodes scholar.—Details from National Portrait Gallery.



Aaron Douglas, [Untitled], Opportunity 5, no. 5 (May 1927).
Aaron Douglas (1899-1979). “Douglas arrived in Harlem shortly after the publication of what was immediately recognized as a landmark publication: the March 1925 issue of Survey Graphic titled, “Harlem: Mecca for the New Negro” [later published in The New Negro]. … [In New York, he studied] with German émigré artist Fritz Winold Reiss… and Du Bois, who gave him a job in the mail room of The Crisis. In 1927 … Douglas to join the staff of The Crisis as their art critic… and …illustrated God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse by James Weldon Johnson. Douglas became chairman of the art department at Fisk University while also remaining active in Harlem.—”Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist,” ed. Susan Earle (2007).



Aaron Douglas, [Untitled], Opportunity 5, no. 7 (July 1927).



Charles Cullen, “A Copper Sun,” Opportunity 5, no. 9 (September 1927).
Charles Cullen (born 1887). A White Irish American artist, influenced by Aubrey Beardsley, Cullen illustrated many of Countee Cullen’s early poetry books. These designs are often repeated in the magazines or advertisements of the period. “Countee Cullen tells an interesting tale about how the father of Charles Cullen is always interested in anyone whose name is Cullen…it was in this way that he came to buy Color, Countee Cullen’s first book, the which he sent to his son Charles…it later developed that Charles was an artist… hence these very beautiful drawings which he did for Countee Cullen’s book…and truly they are lovely to behold!” Opportunity September 1927, p. 277.



Charles Cullen, [Untitled], Opportunity 6, no. 2 (February 1928).



James L. Wells, [Untitled], Opportunity 6, no. 4 (April 1928).
James Lesesne Wells (1902-1993). Described in Opportunity as a “Young Negro artist living in Buffalo.” Wells studied in New York City at Teachers College and the National Academy of Design, where the owner of the New Art Circle Gallery, J.B. Neumann, saw his work and included him in the “International Modernists” exhibition in 1929. Wells became a crafts instructor at Howard University, teaching block printing, ceramics, clay modeling, and sculpture. He also developed professional and personal relationships with Alain Locke, historian Carter G. Woodson, and later, Stanley Hayter, while further developing his printmaking skills at Hayter’s Atelier 17.



Albert A. Smith, “Ethiopia–A Fantasy,” Opportunity 6, no. 6 (June 1928).
Albert Alexander Smith (1896-1940), Listed in Opportunity as “A young Negro artist now on a visit in this country from Paris where he has resided for the past seven years.” Smith was the first African American to win a scholarship to the High School of Ethical Culture and the first African American to study at the National Academy of Design. In 1920 his work was published in Crisis, shortly before he left the United States to live permanently in Europe. Often sending work back to the States, he continued to publish in Opportunity and elsewhere but died suddenly in France only forty-four years old.



James Lesesne Wells, [Untitled], Opportunity 6, no. 7 (July 1928).



Lois Jones, [Untitled], Opportunity 6, no. 8 (August 1928).
Lois Jones (1905-1998). Opportunity described her as “A promising young artist living in Boston.” In 1928 Jones formed and chaired the art department at the Palmer Memorial Institute in North Carolina, and two years later was recruited to teach at Howard University in Washington, D.C., [where she] taught design and watercolor painting for the next forty-seven years…. In 1937 Jones received a year-long fellowship that took her to Paris to live and work. This was a defining moment for the young black artist who experienced—for the first time in her life—the complete freedom to live as she wished without the indignities of segregation that she felt in the United States.”—Phillips Collection.
“In 1941, Jones entered her painting “Indian Shops Gay Head, Massachusetts” into the Corcoran Gallery’s annual competition. At the time, the Corcoran Gallery prohibited African-American artists from entering their artworks themselves. Jones had [a White artist] Céline Marie Tabary enter her painting to circumvent the rule. Jones ended up winning the Robert Woods Bliss Award for this work of art, yet she could not pick up the award herself. Tabary had to mail the award to Jones. …In 1994, the Corcoran Gallery of Art gave a public apology to Jones at the opening of the exhibition The World of Lois Mailou Jones, 50 years after Jones hid her identity.” –Karla Araujo, “Against All Odds,” Martha’s Vineyard Magazine.



D. Edouard Freeman, [Untitled], Opportunity 6, no. 9 (September 1928).
The artist is listed in Opportunity as an “Instructor in drawing at Tuskegee.” Nothing else is known.



Lois Jones, [Untitled], Opportunity 6, no. 10 (October 1928).



Also included: Cornelius Marion Battey (1873-1927). Many of the early cover designs for Opportunity were created by photographer C.M. Battey, who, in his last years of life, turned to pen and brush. A short obituary is printed in Opportunity, May 1927, p. 126. Battey moved from Cleveland to New York City “where for six years he was superintendent of the Bradley Photographic Studio on Fifth Avenue. He went to work at the city’s most famous photographic company, Underwood and Underwood, where he was put in charge of the retouching department. Battey finally got the opportunity to work on his own. With a partner he opened the Battey and Warren Studio in New York. …Battey was one of the best pictorialists in New York City.

His work led him into a valuable friendship with black author and educator W. E. B. DuBois, one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). DuBois was also editor of the NAACP’s official magazine, The Crisis. Soon Battey’s portraits of well-known black leaders were appearing regularly on the covers of The Crisis. In 1916, Battey was invited to take over the photography department of the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama [where] Battey not only taught photography but also chronicled in pictures the life of the campus.” – Black Artists in Photography (1840-1940) by George Sullivan.

Music’s Family Tree

Alexandre Denéréaz (1875-1947), L’évolution de l’art musical, Depuis les origines jusqu’à l’époque moderne. Arbre généalogique [The Evolution of Music from Its Origins to Modern Times. A Family Tree] (Lausanne: Georges Bridel et Cie [1916]). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

In just over 11 feet, this chromolithographed timeline tracks the musical arts from their roots (labeled Instinct for Self-Preservation) to the various branches of the early twentieth century. OCLC lists several editions of Alexandre Denéréaz’s wall chart from 1916 to 1923, meant to supplement his “La musique et la vie interieure” ( written with Lucien Bourguès and also first issued in 1916. Later Denéréaz published Cours d’Harmonie, Rythmes cosmiques et rythmes humains and La gamme, ce problème cosmique.

Denéréaz signed the sheet, as though he were also responsible for the lithography. There is no mention of the Swiss musician doing any other drawings or printing, so perhaps he autographed the chart for someone.

Louis XIV Performs Apollo



Giacomo Torelli (1608-1678), Scene e machine preparate alle Nozze di Teti, balletto reale representato nella sala del piccolo Borbone (Paris, 1654). Bound with: Giacomo Torelli (1608-1678) and Giulio Strozzi (1583-1652), Feste theatrali per la Finta Pazza drama del Sig. Giulio Strozzi. Rappresentate nel piccolo Borbone in Parigi quest’anno 1645 (Paris, 1645). Text in French and Italian. Provenance: From the library of the late-eighteenth-century Milanese engineer Giacomo Antonio Besana. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

Together with the Marquand Art and Archaeology Library, the Graphic Arts Collection acquired a first edition of this royal ballet, staged for Cardinal Mazzarino (1602-1661) with the participation of Louis XIV (1638-1715, King of France 1643-1715). Detailed plans for the inventive staging are by Giacomo Torelli (1608-1678), one of the most talented Baroque theater designers. This variant B edition in an early vellum binding retains two additional leaves with Torelli’s verses “Per la ricreazione e fuoco di Gioia,” engraved title page, plus the five folding double plates. Many pages are uncut.



Copying the dealer’s note in full:

In 1645, Torelli arrived in Paris and directed the refurbishment of the Palais Royal, the theatre built by Cardinal Richelieu. There he staged several appreciated performances, winning over not only the title of “Grand Sorcier”, but also the patronage of Cardinal Mazzarino. This famous “Noces de Pèlee et de Thétis” were staged by Torrelli in 1645, at the Petit Bourbon, with King Louis XIV dancing the role of Apollo. The libretto was composed by Francesco Buti, the music by Carlo Caproli and the ballets by Isaac de Benserade. The lavish scenographic apparati are thoroughly documented in this book, which contains the preparatory plans attributed directly to Torelli by Bjustrom. The opening verses and the following eight descriptions were penned by the Friuli librettist Giovanni Battista Amalteo, active in Vienna. The remarkably neat engravings were made by Silvestre Israël (1621-1691) after François Francart (1622-1672).

The acclaimed performance remained memorable as one of the first in Paris to exploit such complex machinery, insomuch that this edition was commissioned to eternalise this very aspect of the play. The copy also retains Torrelli’s large and inventive plates related to Finta Pazza, another work staged at the Petit Bourbon in 1645. The play had already been hailed as a great success at the premiere in Venice on 14 February 1641, with music composed by Francesco Sacrati. One can find here the title-page and the plates of the first edition of Finta Pazza, which circulated independently from the libretto, as was the case of the copies recorded by Vinet. Likewise, Gourary’s copy is with no text and intriguingly bound together with the Nozze di Teti, also without text, and other 13 suites of French and Italian theatrical, architectural and garden ornament.

This acquisition can be studied in the Firestone Library Special Collections reading room, when it reopens.


Portrait of the author, Increase Mather

Robert White (1645-1703) after Jan van der Spriet (active 1690-1700), Crescentius Matherus [Portrait of Increase Mather], 1688. Engraving. Bound in: Increase Mather (1639-1723), The Life and Death of That Reverend Man of God, Mr. Richard Mather, Teacher of the Church in Dorchester in New-England : [seven lines of quotations] (Cambridge [Mass.]: Printed by S.G. and M.J. [i.e., Samuel Green and Marmaduke Johnson], 1670. William H. Scheide Library, 101.19


A few months ago, a live webinar was held to investigate the woodcut portrait of Richard Mather (1596-1669) by John Foster (1648-1681), recognized as the first cut printed on a European press in Colonial  America. The print is assumed to have been created in honor of Mather’s death around 1670. While Princeton University Library holds a copy of that print, in William Scheide’s copy of The Life and Death of That Reverend Man of God, Mr. Richard Mather someone has inserted an engraved portrait of the author, Increase Mather, rather than the woodcut.

Thanks to our digital studio, we now have a complete surrogate copy of the volume along with the engraving to study at home.


The Scheide volume has a dedication signed: Increase Mather. Boston N.E. Septemb. 6. 1670. The pasted in engraving holds the inscription: Crescentius Matherus. Aetatis Suae 49. 1688. Vanderspirit pinxit. R. White Sculp. Londini. This tells us that it was engraved by Robert White (1645-1703) after a drawing by Jan van der Spriet (active 1690-1700),

The portrait shows Increase Mather, aged 49, with long hair, wearing skull-cap and bands. According to Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society (1894), “Mather’s portrait was painted in 1688 [see below], during his visit to England, where, as an agent of the Massachusetts Colony, he had gone in the spring of that year. The artist was John vander Spriett, a Dutch mezzotint engraver of little note, who had studied under Verkolie at Amsterdam, where he had painted a few portraits. He afterward went to London, and died there about the year 1700.”

Presumably Dr. Mather, on his return home in the spring of 1692, brought back to Boston this painting of himself. Inasmuch as his eldest child, Dr. Cotton Mather, inherited the larger part of his estate, it is very likely that the picture passed into that son’s possession, and thence into the hands of his grandson Samuel. Within a few months after Dr. Mather’s portrait was painted in London, it was engraved by Robert White, an English artist of some note (born 1645, died 1704), who had made many other likenesses of distinguished persons.

It is a small copperplate engraving, about six inches by four in size, representing the bust in an oval frame, and the whole resting on a pedestal, and bears the legend “Crescentius Matherus. AEtatis Suae 49. 1688.” In the two lower corners, below the pedestal, are the following words, in small script: “Vanderspirit pinxit. R. White Sculp. Londini.” It is of excellent workmanship, the hatching is soft and delicate, and the handling of the hair graceful. While the engraver has taken some liberties in his production and has slightly changed the pose of the figure, it is evident that he followed this identical portrait.

According to White’s biography written for the British Museum, the artist was the “foremost pupil of [David Loggan, 1634–1692], and inherited his position as the leading line-engraver for the print trade. His earliest print was made in 1666, and his last in 1702. His output was huge, and has never been fully catalogued. [George Vertue, 1684-1756]‘s list, reproduced by Walpole, has several hundred plates. Vertue got some information from White’s son, George: ‘Robert White Engraver did not only learn of Mr Loggan but from his infancy had an inclination to drawing & made essays in engraving and etching before he knew Loggan. He drew many buildings for Loggan & engrav’d, besides he imploy’d much of his time in drawing from the life black led upon vellum’”.

While most of White’s portraits are found as frontispieces, “A small number he published himself at his house in Bloomsbury Market …. He is said to have charged about £4 for a small plate, but up to £30 for a large one.”


18th-century British vue d’optique

A view in Covent Garden showing St Paul’s Church on fire, as people watch from a roof nearby. “As it appeared on Fire, at eight O’Clock on Thursday Evening, 17th Sepr. 1795.”

John Scott (1774-1828) after a drawing by B.F. Scott, St. Paul’s Covent-Garden… 1795. Hand-colored engraving. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- . Gift of Bruce Willsie ’86. Engraved text:

Was Built by that Celebrated Architect Inigo Jones, in 1640 by the direction And at the Expence of the Earl of Bedford, Ancestor of the present Duke, to whom the Land was granted by Edward VI in {1552 – This Structure was Erected} as a Chapel of Ease to St Martins in the Fields – and remarkable for its Majestic Simplicity, which never fail’d to Attract the Eye of the Curious – It was seperated from St Martins, Constituted an Independent P{arish, and confirmed in 1660 – When the Patronage was vested in the Earl of Bedford, and remained as it came from the Hands of the Original Architect – until the above Accident, which happen’d while Repairing

Thank to a generous donation by Bruce Willsie ’86, the Graphic Arts Collection has eleven new hand-colored vue d’optique, primarily from the 18th century. Here are a few scenes.

Charles Grignon, the Elder (1721-1810) after Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto (1697-1768), A View of the Canal, Chinese Building, Rotundo, &c. in Ranelagh Gardens, with the Masquerade.Vue du Canal, du Batiment, Chinois, de la Rotunda, &c, des Jardins de Ranelagh un jour de Masquarade, 28 February 1752. Hand colored engraving. Printed for and sold by Robt Sayer at the Golden Buck opposite Fetter Lane Fleet Street. Also lettered in French: Vue du Canal, du Batiment, Chinois, de la Rotunda, &c. des Jardins de Ranelagh un jour de Masquarade. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- . Gift of Bruce Willsie ’86

“Pleasure gardens were the great melting pots of 18th-century society and centres for public entertainment. First opened in 1746, Ranelagh Gardens in Chelsea boasted acres of formal gardens and tree-lined promenades. Visitors came to admire the Chinese Pavilion, watch the fountain of mirrors and attend musical concerts held in the great 200-foot-wide Rotunda. Originally designed to appeal to wealthier tastes, pleasure gardens soon became the haunt of the rich and poor alike, where both aristocrats and tradesmen enjoyed spectacles side by side.”-British Library

View of the Inside of the Courts of the Priests in Solomon’s Temple, with the manner of the Preparing & Offering the Sacrifices according to the Vision of the Prophet Ezekiel, May 12, 1794. Printed for Rob.t Sayer at the Golden Buck opposite Fetter Lane Fleet-street, London. Hand colored engraving. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- . Gift of Bruce Willsie ’86.

Note the large basin on the left: Brazen Sea by Morris Jastrow, Jr., Ira Maurice Price, Marcus Jastrow, and Louis Ginzberg, “The brazen laver of the Mosaic ritual; made by Solomon out of bronze captured by David at Tibhath and Chun, cities of Hadarezer (I Chron. xviii. 8). It served the same purpose for the officiating priests of Solomon’s Temple as did the layer for those officers at the tabernacle. The dimensions of the sea (I Kings vii. 23-26) were as follows: height, 5 cubits; circumference, 30 cubits (consequently it was about 10 cubits in diameter); and a handbreadth in thickness. It was capable of holding 2,000 “baths”; on the smallest calculation, about 17,000 gallons. “Under the brim of it round about there were knops which did compass it, for ten cubits compassing the sea round about; the knops were in two rows, cast when it was cast” (ib. 24). This great brazen vessel was set on the backs of twelve brazen oxen; three of them facing each cardinal point, and all of them facing outward…”–


Jacques Rigaud (ca.1681-1754), A View of the Royal Palace of Hampton Court. Vüe du Palais Royal de Hampton Court, ca. 1760-1765. Hand colored engraving. Printed for & Sold by Rob.t Sayer at the Golden Buck Opposite Fetter Lane Fleet Street. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- Gift of Bruce Willsie, ‘86.

“…The reliable witness George Vertue tells us that Queen Caroline’s designer Charles Bridgeman commissioned Rigaud to come to England in early 1733, to draw and engrave four views of royal domains at Greenwich, St. James’s Palace, and Hampton Court Palace (and Rigaud did publish these in Paris, 1736).” –Read more in Richard Quaintance’s “Unnamed Celebrities in Eighteenth-Century Gardens: Jacques Rigaud’s Topographical Prints” —