Category Archives: prints and drawings

prints and drawings

Dante and Virgil Attend an Exhibition

Antonio Manganaro (1842-1921), L’Esposizione Marittima Visitata da Dante e Virgilio. [The Maritime Exhibition visited by Dante and Virgil] Allegoria di A. Manganaro ([Naples: 1871]). 32 hand colored lithographs including the pictorial title-page. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017 in process. Acquired with special thanks to Patricia A. Gaspari-Bridges.

Since Dante’s Divine Comedy (Divina Commedia) first appeared in 1320, visual artists have been rethinking Dante’s trip into hell with Virgil as his guide. Eugène Delacroix chose the subject for his first major painting, The Barque of Dante, also known as Dante and Virgil in Hell, which introduced the artist at the Salon of 1822. A few years later, William Blake drew visions of the Divine Comedy in London while G.G. Macchiavelli did the same in Bologna. William-Adolphe Bouguereau painted Dante and Virgil in Hell in 1850; Edgar Degas finished Dante and Virgil at the Entrance to Hell in 1858; and Gustave Doré financed his own Inferno in 1861, finishing the trilogy in 1868.

In the wake of Doré’s popularity, the Italian caricaturist Antonio Manganaro (1842-1921) translated Dante’s epic to his own era, imagining what would happen if Dante and Virgil attended the opening of The International Maritime Exhibition held in Naples in 1871. Manganaro’s rare lithographic volume, recently acquired by the Graphic Arts Collection, includes plenty of ghosts, fish, and wine. Here are a few images.



Abraham Lincoln for sale

On July 25, 1866, the artist William Marshall wrote to the Atlantic Monthly with information about his new, highly anticipated print.

I send you with this a proof of my engraved portrait of President Lincoln, Upon which I have been engaged so long, engraved as you are aware after my own painting. As a work of art, I submit it to yourselves and to the public on its merits. That it is a truthful portrait or Mr. Lincoln, as he appeared in his calm and thoughtful moments, I have the assurance of many who were Ultimately connected with him during hid whole official career, as well as the testimony of others who enjoyed his acquaintance for many years. On this point I would ask your attention to the opinions of Mr. Sumner, Mr. Stanton, Mr. Trumbull, and Mr. Colfajx, contained in the letters which I enclose.

The execution of this portrait has been a pleasant labor to me during the many months I have been engaged upon it; and in executing it, 1 have endeavored not merely to gratify a professional ambition in producing a work of art, but 1 have sought, so far as could be done in one picture, to represent Mr. Lincoln as he was, and as he will be known in the pages of history and biography.”

Similar announcement/advertisements were published in magazines and newspapers throughout the United States. Sold by subscription, the engraving was offered on various papers, with no limit to the number of plain proofs that would be pulled.

In some places, Marshall and his publishers purchased two full pages to include endorsements from Lincoln family members and colleagues. The advertisement below boasts letters from Robert T. Lincoln, William H. Herndon, John Greenleaf Whittier, Charles Sumner, Edwin M. Stanton, Hannibal Hamlin, Salmon P. Chase, George Bancroft, Lyman Trumbull, and Schuyler Colfax, all praising Marshall’s work.

William Edgar Marshall (1837-1906), Abraham Lincoln, 1866. Engraving. Gift of John Douglas Gordon, Class of 1905. Graphic Arts collection GA 2008.00294

Signed and dated in plate, l.c.: ‘Painted & Engraved by Wm. E. Marshall // Entered According to Act of Congress in the Year 1866 by Wm. E. Marshall in the Clerks Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

Alcott to Billings: Oh, Please change em!


The Graphic Arts Collection holds a proof of a wood engraving after a drawing by Hammatt Billings (1818-1874), which Billings intended as the frontispiece to the Second Part of Little Women. As the collector Sinclair Hamilton notes, Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) disliked it intensely, as is made evident by her letter to Elizabeth B. Greene:

“Oh, Betsy! Such trials as I have had with that Billings no mortal creter [sic] knows! He went & drew Amy a fat girl with a pug of hair, sitting among weedy shrubbery with a lighthouse under her nose, & a mile or two off a scrubby little boy on his stomach in the grass looking cross, towzly, & about 14 years old! It was a blow, for that picture was to be the gem of the lot. I bundled it right back & blew Niles [of Roberts Brothers] up to such an extent that I thought he’d never come down again. But he did, oh bless you, yes, as brisk & bland as ever, & set Billings to work again. You will shout when you see the new one for the man followed my directions & made (or tried to) Laurie ‘a mixture of Apollo, Byron, Tito & Will Green.’ Such a baa Lamb! Hair parted in the middle, big eyes, sweet nose, lovely mustache & cunning hands; straight out of a bandbox & no more like the real Teddy than Ben Franklin. I wailed but let go for the girls are clamoring & the book can’t be delayed. Amy is pretty & the scenery good but—my Teddy, oh my Teddy!”

At the top of the proof is a penciled note from the publishers: “If Miss A. will return this Friday A.M. Mr. Niles will be obliged.” Under this, in ink, in Miss Alcott’s handwriting is written “Oh, please change em!” and, on the sides of the engraving, also in her handwriting, are the words: “Amy too old & no curls. Amy is 17, slender & picturesque. Teddy much too young and no mustache. He is 21 in the story & very handsome.”

At the bottom of the engraving Miss Alcott has written “Lazy Laurence.”
Hamilton’s second attempt is the one found as the frontispiece to “Part Second” of Little Women.

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), Little Women, or, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Part second (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1869). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Hamilton 206(2)


Thanks to Ananya A. Malhotra, Class of 2020, for her help in locating this on her last day in RBSC.

Early Bookplates

Bookplate for Jacobus Maximilianus, count of Collalto and San Salvatore and count of the Holy Roman Empire, engraved in 1771 by Teodoro Viero (Italian, 1740–1819)

While searching our collections for Piranesi’s bookplate, other interesting prints turned up.
Here are a few.

Hand colored bookplate of the French politician Pierre de Maridat (1613-1689), Councillor at the Grand Conseil (1640), inscribed “Curae numen habet justu move 40 Eneid. / Inde cruce hinc trutina armatus regique deoque milito disco meis hcec duo nempe libris / ex libris Petri Maridat in magno Regis consilio Senatoris.”

Bookplate for David Garrick (1717-1779), engraved around 1755. Above is a bust of Shakespeare and below the inscription “La premiere chose qu’on doit faire quand on a emprunte un Livre, c’est de la lire afin de pouvoir le rendre plutot. Menagiana. Vol. IV.” = “The first thing one must do when one borrows a book is to read it in order to be able to give it back. Menagiana. Vol. 4.”


Bookplate of the booksellers C.S. Jordani and Associates, with their motto “Dulces ante omnia musae” (Sweet before all muses) at the top and below “Deus nobis haec otia fecit” (God has given us this tranquility, Virgil, Eclogues I, l.6).


Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) bookplate engraved by Francesco Bartolozzi (1727-1815).


Pour Raillerie

Bookplate collections often include prints that have names embedded in their design, mistaken as bookplates. This is the case with the above engraving found in a box of unsorted bookplates in our collection.

It is the title page for a series of eight plates by the Swiss engraver and entomologist Johann Rudolph Schellenberg (1740-1806). The small volume was called Pour raillerie (For mockery or All in Mockery) and was originally published in Winterthur, Switzerland, in 1772. (available for free download by the Swiss National Library):

Schellenberg partnered with Johann Caspar Fuessli (1743-1786) on multiple projects, most notably Archiv der Insectengeschichte / Archives de l’histoire des insects (Winterthour: Chez J. Ziegler, 1794). “The figures, which occupy 37 plates, are designed, etched and coloured by Mr. Schellenberg, of Winterthur, a man of uncommon knowledge in this branch of painting, whether we consider fidelity of character, high finish, or spirit of altitude. They appear chiefly to have been drawn from the insects themselves, a few excepted, in which the figures of Roesel may be traced.” –J. Johnson, Analytical Review: Or History of Literature, Domestic and Foreign, vol. 10 (1791).

We have yet to find the other plates in Pour raillerie, but they may still turn up.

Description of the Poets

Fabricious’s Description of the Poets. Vide:Gil Blas—“People think that we often dine with Democritus and there they are mistaken. There is not one of my fraternity, not even excepting the makers of Almanacs, who is not welcome to some good table. As for my own part, there are two families where I am received with pleasure. I have two covers laid for me every day, one at the house of a fat director of the farms, to whom I have dedicated a romance, and the other at the house of a rich citizen, who has the disease of being thought to entertain wits every day at his table; luckily he is not very delicate in his choice, and the city furnishes him with great plenty.” Print by Thomas Rowlandson, text from: Alain René Le Sage, The History and Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane (London, 1716).

The Miseries of Human Life, written in 1806 by James Beresford, a Fellow at Merton College, Oxford, had extraordinary success and became a minor classic in the satirical literature of the day. Dozens of editions were published and printmakers rushed to illustrate their own versions of life’s miseries.

Thomas Rowlandson (1756/57–1827) began drawing scenes based on Beresford’s book as soon as it was published and after two years, the luxury print dealer Rudolph Ackermann selected fifty Miseries in hand colored etchings for a new edition of the Beresford work. Fabricious’s Description of the Poets (1807) is one of Rowlandson’s interpretations of the miseries of social life.

Thomas Rowlandson, Miseries of Human Life. Fifty etchings after James Beresford’s book of the same title. London: R. Ackermann, 1808.

The exhibition The Miseries of Human Life and other Amusements: Drawings by Thomas Rowlandson opens at the Princeton University Art Museum July 1, 2017.

The Chariot Race at Barnum and Bailey’s Show, 1898

While reorganizing and rehousing our circus poster collection, we can across this drawing for the weekly London newspaper, The Graphic. The drawing is mounted on the board’s recto and the published wood engraving on the verso. A double window mat is being made to house both as they are mounted.

The drawing is by William Small (1843-1929), who was a regular on the staff of The Graphic. Originally from Edinburgh, Small moved to London where he illustrated novels, magazines, and children’s books. Besides The Graphic, his work can be found in The Quiver, Good Words, and the Sunday Magazine, among others.

William Small, The Chariot Race at Barnum and Bailey’s Show, 1898. Graphite, chalk, gouache drawing. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2017- in process. Mounted with published wood engraving on verso.

William Small, The Chariot Race at Barnum and Bailey’s Show. Published in The Graphic, London, February 12, 1898. Wood engraving. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2017- in process

In the same issue of The Graphic is an advertisement for the performance at the Olympia on Hammersmith Road. Two performances were held each day, announced here “in its seventh week.”

Here is the art studio at The Graphic, posted at Spartacus Educational, where they note: “When it was first started, the journal was produced in a rented house. However, by 1882 the company owned three buildings, twenty printing machines and employed over 1,000 people. The Christmas edition, printed in colour and costing a shilling, was particularly popular, selling over 500,000 copies in Britain and the USA.”

Japanese Circus Acrobats

A colorful Japanese toy print turned up unexpectedly this week. Publication information at the lower right tells us the artist of the nine vignettes was Nomura Yoshikuni and that it was published by Shichihōdō (or Shippōdō) in Kyoto, a firm that often published materials related to Kabuki theater. Nomura Yoshimitsu (Yoshikuni III) 1855-1903 was the grandson of Utagawa Yoshikuni I, who was a pupil of Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861).

The acrobats are called street performers, known for accomplishing these feats out-of-doors and so, Yoshimitsu sets these views in natural landscapes. No other copy of the print has been found in an American collection.

Nomura Yoshimitsu (Yoshikuni III, 1855-1903), Untitled [Japanese circus acrobats].  Kyōto, Japan: Shichihōdō, ca. 1890. Color woodblock print. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process.

First American Detective Novel

In 1860, Nathaniel Orr (1822-1908) began designing and cutting the wood engravings for the female author Metta Victoria Fuller Victor (1831-1885). Writing under the pseudonym Seeley Regester (as well as Corinne Cushman, Eleanor Lee Edwards, Metta Fuller, Walter T. Gray, Mrs. Orrin James, Rose Kennedy, Louis LeGrand, Mrs. Mark Peabody, The Singing Sybil, and Mrs. Henry Thomas), Victor created some of the earliest and most popular dime novels, beginning in 1860 with Alice Wilde, The Raftsman’s Daughter, and The Backwoods Bride.

Although Orr’s name is often left out of descriptions, his wrappers, frontispieces, and interior plates helped enormously to promote and endear these books to the American public.

Their best seller, Maum Guinea, and Her Plantation “Children,” was published in 1861 and received compliments from no less than President Abraham Lincoln for its abolitionist message. Perhaps even better remembered is The Dead Letter, serialized in 1866 and then published in 1867, with plates by Orr. The work is often credited as the first American full-length detective novel, by a male or female author.

Victor wrote and Orr engraved many different genres, including mysteries, Westerns, romances, temperance novels, and rags-to-riches tales. These cheap little books brought tremendous financial success for both their author and illustrator, allowing Orr to move his family into a palatial estate along the Palisades, just west of present day Hoboken, with a view of the Manhattan skyline. Later, the Orrs and the Victors both moved to neighboring homes in Ho-ho-kus, New Jersey, and both families are buried in the nearby Valleau Cemetery.

Metta Victoria Fuller Victor (1831-1885), Maum Guinea, and Her Plantation Children (New York: Beadle and Company, 1861). F PS 3129.V58 M386 1861
Metta Victoria Fuller Victor (1831-1885), The Dead Letter, an American Romance (New York: Beadle and Company, 1867). F PS 3129.V58 D433 1867

Heroes of the Colored Race

Heroes of the Colored Race. Chromolithograph. Philadelphia: Published by J. Hoover, 628 Arch St., 1881. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process. Purchased with funds from the Hurlbut Barnes Cutting Memorial Fund.

Thanks to Steven Knowlton, Librarian for History and African American Studies and funds from the Hurlbut Barnes Cutting Memorial Fund, the Graphic Arts Collection is the fortunate new owner of a rare, 19th-century chromolithograph entitled Heroes of the Colored Race.

The print commemorates men prominent in and representative of the advancement of African American civil rights, including Blanche Kelso Bruce, 1841-1898; Frederick Douglass, 1818-1895; Hiram Rhodes Revels, 1827?-1901; John Roy Lynch, 1847-1939; Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865; James Abram Garfield, 1831-1881; Ulysses Simpson Grant, 1822-1885; Joseph Hayne Rainey, 1832-1887; Robert Smalls, 1839-1915; John Brown, 1800-1859; and Charles Edmund Nash, 1844-1913.


The central vignette highlights portraits of ex-United States Senator Blanche Kelso Bruce of Mississippi, abolitionist, federal administrator, and diplomat Frederick Douglass, and ex-United States Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi.

The four corners are filled with scenes showing the contributions of African Americans to the prosperity of the United States through their labor, studies, and participation in civic life, and the preservation of the Union through service in the United States Colored Troops. Also featured are portraits of African American members of the United States House of Representatives John R. Lynch of Mississippi, Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina, Robert Smalls of South Carolina, and Charles E. Nash of Louisiana.

Bruce, Douglass, Lynch, Rainey, and Smalls were all enslaved for some portions of their lives.


The printer/publisher was Joseph Hoover, born of Swiss-German heritage in Baltimore on December 29, 1830. The Library Company of Philadelphia’s biographical database on local printers states that by 1893, Hoover was noted as “probably the largest publisher of pictures,” distributing internationally 600,000 to 700,000 prints a year with his son, Henry L. Hoover. The listing continues:

“Hoover settled in Philadelphia in 1856. He opened a wood turning and framing establishment on the 1400 block of Hamilton Street, and about 1858, married his first wife Roseanna (b. ca. 1833). …In the spring of 1868 the “chromo and print publisher” advertised his removal to 804 Market Street, from where he oversaw the work of Duval & Hunter and James Queen and issued his well-advertised and acclaimed “The Changed Cross” in 1870. . . . During the 1870s and 1880s, Hoover’s business continued to grow (estimated worth of $30,000-$40,000) and he established printing plants at 450-452 North Thirteenth Street and [numerous other locations]. With this financial success also came professional acknowledgment and Hoover was one of only three chromolithographers to be honored at the Centennial Exhibition of 1876.”