Category Archives: Museum object collection

Good conduct medals for Jamaican sugar plantation

As a young boy, Henry Thomas de la Beche (née Henry Beach, 1796-1855) inherited a sugar plantation from his father. Located in Clarendon, Jamaica, Halse Hall was managed primarily by enslaved Jamaicans and provided de la Beche, living in England and later Wales, with a substantial income. It wasn’t until December 1823 that he first traveled to Jamaica, spending one year on the island to conduct a survey and learn about the Jamaican men and women who ran his plantation. Back home in 1825, he published Notes on the Present Condition of Negroes in Jamaica. The introductory notes begin:


“Jamaica Negroes Cutting Canes in their Working Dresses,” lithographic frontispiece in Henry T. De La Beche, Notes on the Present Condition of the Negroes in Jamaica (London: Printed for T. Cadell, in the Strand Source, 1825). Original in the John Carter Brown Library

 

De la Beche wrote “that I am no friend to slavery in any shape, or under any modification,” but never fully denounced the practice at his own estate.

“At the time of De la Beche’s visit Halse Hall owned 207 mainly ‘creole’ slaves, mostly born on the plantation. They are woken at five o’clock by the bell of the ‘head driver’, and start work at daybreak. Breakfast is at nine, and dinner at half past twelve, though the negroes skip the meal and spend their time tending their ‘provision grounds’. Work resumes and continues without a break until half an hour after sunset, after which the slaves can ‘spend the evening as they think proper’. De la Beche is proud that his drivers don’t carry whips, as they do on other plantations, and punishments are carried out by their overseers. The head driver at Halse Hill, we’re assured, ‘is an intelligent, human and steady man’. Failure to complete digging the allotted number of cane-holes leads to withdrawal of rum and sugar rations. ‘Weakly adults’ and children perform lighter duties. At crop time – four months of the year, and apparently a ‘merry time’ for the slaves – the workforce is split into two shifts, and work continues day and night.”– https://gwallter.com/history/henry-de-la-beche-defends-slavery.html

It was around this time that de la Beche had a medallion produced by engraver Tomasso Saulini (1793-1864), which could be given to his workers in recognition of “Good Conduct.” One side carried his own profile and the other the words “Reward for Good Conduct. Halse Hall, Jamaica.” Long after slavery had been abolished in Jamaica (1833) de la Beche had a second, larger medal produced by the engraver William Wyon (1795-1851), again with his profile on one side and a Jamaican landscape on the other along with “Reward for Good Conduct. Halse Hall, Jamaica.”

Tomasso Saulini (1793-1864), Award for Good Conduct medal, ca. 1824. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2021- in process

William Wyon (1795-1851), Award for Good Conduct medal, 1841. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2021- in process.

For a more complete record of Halse Hall see: Gwallter, a blog and more from Swansea by Andrew Green / blogfan a mwy o Abertawe gan Andrew Green.

Tennyson Cigar, 5 Cents


Alfred, Lord Tennyson by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company, ca. 1870

Tennyson cigars 5 cents: Panetela and Invincible, long filler imported Sumatra wrapper ([Detroit]: Mazer Cressman Cigar Co., Inc. makers, no date, [ca.1920]). Graphic Arts Collection 8359710

John Bain, Tobacco in Song and Story (H. M. Caldwell, 1896). [left]

 

Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) was a well-known lover of cigars. In his honor, the Mazer Cressman Cigar Company in Detroit named one of their best for the poet. In addition, the Cadillac Can Company manufactured a tin humidor for display in stores, featuring a lithographed portrait of Tennyson when open. There are several other boxes or canisters advertising Tennyson cigars, a few pictured here.

Maria Malibran 1808-1836

Maria Felicia Malibran (1808-1836) first appeared on stage in Ferdinando Paër’s Agnese, when she was 8 years old. When she was 17, she was a singer in the choir of the King’s Theatre in London. Tragically the singer died at the age of 28.

A recent request for additional views of the Malibran’s death mask are offered here in case there is interested. Here also is a living portrait: Henri De Caisne (1799-1852), Portrait de Maria Malibran-Garcia (1808-1836), dans le rôle de Desdémone, 1830. © Musée Carnavalet, Paris.

A selection from Oxford Music Online:
“Spanish mezzo-soprano. She was the daughter of the composer García family and sister of the mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot. She studied with her father, a rigorous teacher whose harshness towards her was notorious, and made her London début at the King’s Theatre in June 1825 as Rosina.

…She made her Italian début at the Teatro Valle, Rome, on 30 June 1832 as Desdemona; moving to Naples she sang the same role at the Teatro del Fondo on 6 August and Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia at the S Carlo on 7 September, followed by La Cenerentola, La gazza ladra, Semiramide and Otello, scoring a tremendous success at every performance.

Her first marriage having eventually been annulled, she married the violinist Charles de Bériot in March 1836, and at Drury Lane in May of that year created the title role in Balfe’s The Maid of Artois, which he had written for her. A riding accident when she was pregnant resulted in her death during the Manchester Festival. To judge from the parts adapted for her by both Donizetti and Bellini, the compass, power and flexibility of Malibran’s voice were extraordinary. Her early death turned her into something of a legendary figure with writers and poets during the later 19th century.”

A few other sources:
Memoirs, Critical and Historical, of Madame Malibran de Bériot (London, ?1836)
G. Barbieri: Notizie biografiche di M.F. Malibran (Milan, 1836)
I. Nathan: Memoirs of Madame Malibran de Bériot (London, 1836)
Memoirs of the Public and Private Life of the Celebrated Madame Malibran (London, 1836)
M. Merlin: Madame Malibran (Brussels, 1838)
M. Merlin: Memoirs of Madame Malibran (London, 1840)
W.H. H[usk], ed.: Templeton and Malibran: Reminiscences of these Renowned Singers, with Original Letters and Anecdotes (London, 1880)
E. Legouvé: Maria Malibran (Paris, 1880)
E. Heron-Allen: Contributions towards an Accurate Biography of de Bériot and Malibran (London, 1894)

 


Call the apothecary


Since the Renaissance, apothecaries have turned up in plays, poetry, novels, and movies. Did you ever wonder what the apothecary used when she or he was called to someone’s home? The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a 19th-century, leather and brass apothecary’s travelling medicine case, manufactured by Savory & Moore, Chemist to the Queen & HRH Prince of Wales. It is a nice complement to the apothecary’s scale at the Princeton University Art Museum [bottom].


This hinged single layer case is lined in black morocco and has an inner hinged document compartment behind the cover, along with 20 compartments (one with hinged flap). One section is removable with further compartment beneath. Although we can’t be sure, this case is seemingly complete with 17 bottles, scales and weights, palette knife & mixer; one stopper broken, early leather repair to inside of lid.

Savory and Moore were established at 143 New Bond Street in 1797, finally closing their doors in 1968. This particular case appears to have traveled the West of England. Two of the medicine bottles are labelled, one with Henry Hodder & Co. Ltd. Bristol, Bath & Newport; the other with Young & Co., cash chemists, Bristol. Both labels are early 20th century but the case itself is 19th century.

 

Loosely inserted in the document compartment is a single sheet of laid paper with three manuscript medicine recipes, one for ‘Mrs Day’, another for ‘Master Day’. The leaf includes printed stamps for Steele & Marsh of Bath, and H. Jenkins, chemist, in addition to an embossed stamp for J. Robinson, operative, dispensing & family chemist. [c.1870]

 

What else is in the library collection?

The Robert H. Taylor manuscript collection from Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), includes correspondence listing fees paid to [among many others] apothecaries, and other employees of the Great Wardrobe; military officers in fortifications; and keepers of royal palaces.

 


Apothecary’s Balance and Weights, 1639. Princeton University Art Museum y1950-126. Gift of Frank Jewett Mather Jr. Note the scales being used in the print below.

 

“Mrs Lavement arriving back home late after the theatre with Captain O’Donnel causing Mr Lavement (an apothecary) much anger and jealousy, Roderick Random apprentice to Mr Lavement watches the scene with amusement.” Etching by T. Rowlandson after himself after T. Smollett. in The Adventures of Roderick Random by Tobias Smollett, M.D. (London: J. Sibbald, and sold by T. Kay, 1793): v.1, p. 116. Graphic Arts GA 2014.00633

Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) is the printer of the illustrated broadside The apothecary’s prayer!!. [London]: [s.n.], July 30, 1801. Graphic Arts GA 2014.00082

King Lear, Act 4, scene 6:
But to the girdle do the gods inherit,
Beneath is all the fiends’;
There’s hell, there’s darkness, there’s the
sulphurous pit,
Burning, scalding, stench, consumption; fie,
fie, fie! pah, pah! Give me an ounce of civet,
good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination.
There’s money for thee.

 

Holiday Cards

As the trees come down and ornaments go back in their boxes, many of us carefully archive the beautiful works on paper created by artists and writers under the auspices of holiday cards. One of the masters of paper architecture is Werner Pfeiffer. Those fortunate few who receive his miracles of construction and design, editioned from 160 to 180, look forward each December to the small white envelope that brings his latest creation. Always colorful, each year is different and each card is unique. Here are a few recent gifts.

A brief biographical sketch:
Born in 1937 in Stuttgart, Werner Pfeiffer studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in his home town. In 1961 he emigrated to the United States and had a career as a designer and art director, receiving awards from The New York Art Directors Club, The New York Type Directors Club, the New York Society of Illustrators, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts, among others. In 1969 he was appointed Professor of Art at Pratt Institute in New York and at the same time established the imprint Pratt Adlib Press. He currently lives and continues to publish from Red Hook, New York.

A part of Vassar’s lovely video portrait:

The new normal

We continue to teach live using the original material in the graphic arts collection to reach our students who are not on campus. Today was the practice run for Professor Linda Colley’s Junior Seminar in History, in which we will compare George III with George Washington while demonstrating the many mediums and formats through which you can learn. Here is a pochoir print reproducing the oil painting by Charles Willson Peale of George Washington at the Battle of Princeton together with a mezzotint after Thomas Gainsborough’s George the Third, King of Great Britain.

 

 

One of the many complications is adjusting the equipment to accommodate the very large as well as the very small, while continuing to talk about specific details.

Some material like the John Trumbull’s 1786 sketch of the Death of General Mercer [Sketch for The Battle of Princeton] is already digitized online: https://catalog.princeton.edu/catalog/10660639. But others, like the watch in an open face case worn by Col. Thomas Turbott during the Battle of Princeton, is not.

 

 

Besides it is more fun to see and talk about the material live, than to hand out digital addresses. Such as Baricou Montbrun’s L’Apotre de la liberte immortalize (The Apostle of Freedom Immortalized or The Apotheosis of Benjamin Franklin), [Paris: Montbrun, ca. 1790], a stipple engraving in which Franklin is being assumed into heaven as the world mourns his loss.

Or Wha wants me, 1792, in which Thomas Paine holds a scroll of the “rights of man” surrounded by injustices and standing on labels.

Thanks to the many, many people who have helped set this up and continue to make these classes possible.

 

 

The Books and Prints of Anaïs Nin and her Gemor Press

Please join us at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, September 25, 2020, for the fifth in our series of live webinars highlighting material in the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton University Library. Recently we acquired most of the rare letterpress editions printed by Anaïs Nin (French-Cuban, 1903-1977). Best known for her diaries, Nin also wrote fiction with themes of history, feminism and multiculturalism. Together with Gonzalo More, one of her many lovers, Nin ran a private printing press in Greenwich Village where she taught herself to set type, stood for hours pumping a treadle press, and distributed her books with the help of Frances Steloff at Gotham Book Mart. Many were illustrated with original etchings by her husband, Hugh Parker Guiler, a banker who used the pseudonym Ian Hugo so his colleagues would not discover he was also an artist.

They called the imprint Gemor Press (pronounced G. More) after Gonzalo, although it was Anaïs who raised the money and did most of the physical work. Located first on MacDougal Street and later at 17 East 13th Street where the small building she rented still stands. After a close look at the books and prints, we are fortunate to be joined by Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who will update us on their efforts to landmark this building, as well as other Village homes and studios of writers we all know and love.

This session is free and open to all. To register: click here

Here is the complete series of past and future webinars highlighting material in Princeton’s Graphic Arts Collection

New Theories on the Oldest American Woodcut. May 22, 2020
To celebrate the 350th anniversary of the oldest surviving print from Colonial America, we assembled all five extent copies of the portrait of the Reverend Richard Mather (1596-1669) by or after John Foster. Julie Mellby was joined by Caroline Duroselle-Melish, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints and Associate Librarian for Collection Care and Development, Folger Shakespeare Library.

Thomas Eakins and the Making of Walt Whitman’s Death Mask. June 26, 2020
This program was chosen specifically for June, LGBTQ pride month and this year, the 50th anniversary of the first Gay Pride march. Both Walt Whitman and Thomas Eakins, in their own way, broke down barriers around sex, sexuality, and the celebration of the human body. Presented by Julie Mellby, Graphic Arts Curator, and Karl Kusserow, John Wilmerding Curator of American Art, Princeton University Art Museum.

Afrofuturism: The Graphics of Octavia E. Butler. July 31, 2020
This month focused on the speculative fiction, also called Afrofuturism, of author Octavia E. Butler. Julie Mellby was joined by Damian Duffy and John Jennings, the award winning team who produced the graphic novel adaptations of Parable of the Sower and Kindred.

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. August 26, 2020
The fourth in our series celebrated the centenary of the 19th amendment on Women’s Equality Day. Julie Mellby was joined by Lauren Santangelo, author of Suffrage and the City and lecturer in Princeton University’s Writing Program, along with Sara Howard, Librarian for Gender & Sexuality Studies and Student Engagement within Scholarly Collections and Research Services at Princeton University Library.

The Books and Prints of Anaïs Nin and her Gemor Press. September 25, 2020
For the fifth in our series we highlight the recently acquired letterpress editions printed by Anaïs Nin (French-Cuban, 1903-1977). Together with Gonzalo More, Nin ran a private printing press in Greenwich Village where she printed and published fine press books, distributed with the help of Frances Steloff at Gotham Book Mart. Julie Mellby will be joined by Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who will talk about efforts to landmark the Gemor Press building and other Village homes and studios of writers we all know and love.

 

Arthur and Albert Brisbane

Thanks to a gift in the 1970s from Sarah Brisbane Mellen (1913-1977), daughter of Arthur Brisbane, granddaughter of Albert Brisbane, also known as Mrs. Chase Mellen, the death mask collection acquired three examples in three very different formats. The first was made in 1890, at the death of Albert Brisbane (1809-1890), whose head was only partially cast in plaster, either in Richmond where he died or in Buffalo, where he was buried. A second mask was made of his son, Arthur Brisbane (1864-1936) and used to sculpt a full standing bust of Arthur’s head. A third wax cast of Arthur’s face was moulded either directly or from the plaster cast.

Arthur Brisbane’s bust is signed in the plaster by Herman Walthausen (188-1962), as mentioned in his New York Times obituary:

“Herman Walthausen … a molder and an assistant to sculptors, died today in a nursing home here [White Plains]. …Mr. Walthausen, a pupil of the late Augustus St. Gaudens, had worked with such sculptors as the late Adolph Weinman, Charles Keck, Daniel Chester French and Jacques Lipchitz. Projects on which he had worked included the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, the Confederate Memorial Monument at Stone Mountian, GA., and death masks of former Gov. Alfred E. Smith of New York, Arthur Brisbane, the editor, and Sir Jacob Epstein, the sculptor. –New York Times, September 23, 1962.

 

A brief biography of Albert and Arthur was posted by Syracuse University Special Collections, which I quote here:

Albert Brisbane (1809-1890), social reformer, was born in Batavia, N. Y., the son of James and Mary (Stevens) Brisbane. He was sent to a boarding-school on Long Island, and then studied in New York City under private tutors. He traveled to Europe, where he was influenced by the ideas of Charles Fourier, the French utopian socialist. Poor health on his return to the United States in 1834 dampened his Fourierism campaign, but in 1840 he published Social Destiny of Man: or, Association and Reorganization of Industry. After striking up a friendship with Horace Greely, he began writing for the Tribune. His “hasty propaganda” gave birth to numerous experiments in Associationism, as he called his theories, the general failure of which caused a waning of interest in the whole movement. In 1876, he published General Introduction to Social Sciences containing the essence of Fourier’s social theory and a translation of his History of Universal Unity. Brisbane was a highly educated man with a vigorous mind, but he failed as a social reformer because he lacked an ability to lead, as well as a realization of the practical difficulties in the way of a universal panacea for evil. He wrote with comparative ease as well as fervor, but only as object lessons in social reform have his writings survived the movement of which they were a part. [adapted from American Authors 1600-1900, (1938)]

With his first wife, Sarah White, Albert had three children, one of whom, Arthur (1864-1937), would go on to become a successful writer and newspaper editor. After completing his education in the United States and Europe, Arthur Brisbane took his first newspaper job as a reporter with the New York Sun. He went on to hold jobs as an editor at the Sun, the New York World, and the New York Evening Journal. He remained editor of the Evening Journal until 1921 and continued to write for the paper as a columnist until his death. Brisbane was known for his punchy prose style and fondness for short, blaring headlines. By the time of his death he was the highest paid newspaper writer in the world ($260,000 a year). [ Adapted from World Authors 1900-1950, (1996)]

 

Death mask of Albert Brisbane (1809-1890), Partial plaster cast, 1890. Graphic Arts Death Mask Collection (Ex) 4875. Gift of Sarah Brisbane Mellen, 1913-1977

Death mask of Arthur Brisbane (1864-1936). Plaster bust on pedestal. 1936? Graphic Arts Death Mask Collection (Ex) 4876. Gift of Sarah Brisbane Mellen, 1913-1977.

Wax mould of Arthur Brisbane (1864-1936). Graphic Arts Death Mask Collection (Ex) 4877. Gift of Sarah Brisbane Mellen, 1913-1977.

Klan shocked to find Borglum is Catholic; Catholics shocked to find his angels are female

 

Not long after John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum (1867-1941, famous for carving Mount Rushmore) finished sculpting dozens of gargoyles for Princeton University’s Class of 1879 Hall at the request of his friend Woodrow Wilson, Borglum was commissioned to sculpt a series of angels for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. As the project neared completion, Catholic officials were surprised to find many of his angels were female. This led to a heated public debate over the gender of angels, repeated in newspaper across the country.

Borglum was told to replace the female angels. An impassioned dialogue followed, ending with the artist smashing the molds for several of the figures.  “I felt like a murderer,” he confessed afterward, “but that was the only thing to do under the circumstances.” –“The Sex of Angels,” Current Opinion, Volume 39 (1905). Eventually Borglum sculpted new molds and then, publicly declared they were poorly cast and did not want his name connected with them.

 

 

 

The controversy led to enormous publicity, national fame for the sculptor, and in 1910, Woodrow Wilson presented Borglum with an honorary master’s degree for service to the University. His next major commission was to carve relief statues of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis on the Stone Mountain, hired by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Originally the frieze was to include an altar to the Ku Klux Klan but this plan was later dropped (See the Stone Mountain Sculpture and Memorial Hall as originally projected on the left).

In 1925, when a dispute arose between Borglum and the managing association. the sculptor once again smashed the models he had completed. He quickly moved on to begin the carving of the famous Mount Rushmore quartet.

For more, read: “The Sordid History of Mount Rushmore: The sculptor behind the American landmark had some unseemly ties to white supremacy groups” by Matthew Shaer in Smithsonian Magazine October 2016. Also recommended: Debra McKinney, “Stone Mountain: A Monumental Dilemma: Some see the monument as “the largest shrine to white supremacy in the history of the world.” Intelligence Report, Southern Poverty Law Center, Spring 2018. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2018/stone-mountain-monumental-dilemma

In 1924, the National Alumni Committee of Princeton donated $1,000 to support the project.

“In the early going,” writes John Taliaferro, “the Klan contributed money directly to the Stone Mountain Confederate Monumental Association, a number of whose members were active Klansmen. While there seems to be no extant proof that Borglum officially joined the Klan himself—that he took the secret oath or donned a hooded robe—he nonetheless became deeply involved in Klan politics, as they related to Stone Mountain and on a national scale as well. He attended Klan rallies, served on Klan committees, and endeavored to play peacemaker in several Klan leadership disputes (with mixed results).

… The Kloran, the Klan’s book of rules, demanded that members be native born, white, male, and Gentile. And after World War I, the Klan’s Kreed became increasingly white supremacist, anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-labor, anti-alien.” — John Taliaferro, Great White Fathers: The Story of the Obsessive Quest to Create Mount Rushmore (2007).

 

It is perhaps ironic that a scandal emerged within the Klan leadership when they found out Borglum was a Catholic.

 

 

Chauncey Bradley Ives’ Noah Webster

After Chauncey Bradley Ives (1810–1894), Bust of Noah Webster, ca.1840. Plaster cast. (ex) 4766. Gift of Mrs. Theodore L. Bailey.

During the 21st-century renovation of Firestone Library, a cast plaster bust of Noah Webster (1758-1843) was relocated from the library tower to the newly constructed special collection vaults. It came with a possible attribution to the 19th-century sculptor John Henri Isaac Browere (1792-1834).

We can now confidently re-attribute the bust to Chauncey Bradley Ives (1810-1894), an American sculptor who worked primarily in the Neo-classic style. Today he is remembered for his portraits of celebrated Americans, both full-length statues and busts, including Noah Webster completed in 1840. Our bust was donated to Princeton by (or in honor of) Mrs. Theodore L. Bailey (died 1961). Mr. and Mrs. Bailey also donated a bronze cast of Ives’ Webster bust to Yale University in 1964, where the University also owns a painted cast plaster version of the bust.


In 1964, a New York Times reporter attended an outdoor auction of the household possessions and furnishings of the late Mrs. Theodore L. Bailey (died 1961). The sale included pieces belonging to Noah Webster, of whom Mrs. Bailey was a direct descendant.–“Picnicking’s Half the Fun at Auction,” New York Times November 14, 1964. This may explain their interest in having Webster’s likeness at the universities.  Mr. Theodore Bailey, Jr. was a member of the Princeton Class of 1926 and he also presented a bronze bust of Webster to the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College.

Noah Webster, Jr. (1758-1843), a graduate of Yale, wrote the first American dictionary, entitled A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language (1806) and followed it with An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828). Before the age thirty, Webster had already published a three volume study: A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, including a speller (1783), a grammar (1784), and a reader (1785). See more: https://www.merriam-webster.com/about-us/americas-first-dictionary

The former attribution was not a bad guess. In 1825, John Henri Isaac Browere (1792-1834) began using plaster life masks to create full three-dimensional busts of noted Americans, such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, De Witt Clinton, and Dolley Madison. It was his hope to establish a National Gallery of Notable Americans, but critics were divided on the merits of his technique, dubbing him a mechanic and calling his New York studio a “plaster factory.”

At his death, Browere’s collection of plasters was hidden from view until 1897, when McClure’s reporter Charles Henry Hart tracked them down and published “Unknown Life Masks of Great Americans…The Story of Their Production, Concealment from the Public, and Recent Recovery,” —McClure’s Magazine 9 1897. The Chicago Daily Tribune followed this with a front page article “Long Hidden Life Masks of Famous Americans” and the plaster busts were exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair. Later, most of the collection was donated to the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York (formerly the New York State Historical Association). Browere’s work in plaster was not unlike the bust of Webster.

See: Life Masks of Noted Americans of 1825 by John H. I. Browere (Cooperstown, N.Y., The New York State Historical Association [1951?]). Firestone Library NB1293.N49