November 2007 Archives

Boredom and how to avoid it in 1753

Unsigned engraving after Davide Antonio Fossati (1708-1780) in Giovanni Battista Passeri (1694-1780). Della Seccatura Discorsi cinque di L’Antisiccio Prisco. Dedicati a Nettuno. Venice: Pietro Valvasense, 1753.

This unsigned engraving, attributed as after the Swiss artist Davide Antonio Fossati, shows four boys playing a game of leap-frog; presumably the earliest illustration of this sport. It is one of six plates in Passeri’s discourse on the drying up of wit and entertainment at the time, which he dedicated to Neptune. If anyone has a theory on why Neptune, I’d love to hear about it.

Passeri, the Abbate of Pesaro, was an antiquarian, a philologist, and an archeologist. Each of the five discourses or sections describe a different form of boredom and are illustrated with a beautiful engraving suggesting a way to combat this fatigue. The book was written as a carnival satire, and partly presented to the academy of Pesara.

Besides publishing Della Seccatura Discorsi, Passeri has the distinction of having published the greatest catalogue of fake Roman terracotta lamps ever produced. The Marquand Art and Archaeology Library at Princeton University holds several of Passeri’s studies on Etruscan vaces:

Passeri, Giovanni Battista, 1694-1780, Lucernae fictiles Musei Passerii, 1739, Location: Marquand Library (SAX): Rare Books, Call Number: NK3835 .P26f

Passeri, Giovanni Battista, 1694-1780, Mvsevm etrvscvm, exhibens insignia vetervm Etrvscorvm monvmenta aereis tabvlis cc. nvnc primvm, 1737 Location: Marquand Library (SAX): Rare Books, Call Number: N5740 .G67q

Passeri, Giovanni Battista, 1694-1780, Serie di vasi tratta da vari musei d’Italia … rãpresentanti le pitture degli Etruschi, 1787, Location: Marquand Library (SA), Call Number: NK3845 .P26f

Passeri, Giovanni Battista, 1694-1780, Thesavrvs gemmarvm antiqvarvm astriferavm quae e complvribvs dactyliothecis selectae aereis tabvlis cc. inscvlptae observationibvs inlvstrantvr adiect, 1750, Location: Marquand Library (SAX): Rare Books, Call Number: NB1268 .G67q

The First Campaign Mud-Slinging?

James Akin (1773-1846). The Pedlar and his Pack or the Desperate Effort, an Over Balance. Philadelphia, 1828. Etching and aquatint with hand coloring.

On February 21, 1815, six militia men (all of the Tennessee militia) were court-martialed and executed while under General Andrew Jackson’s command. When Jackson ran for President of the United States in 1828, the incident was used against him by those in favor of his opponent, John Quincy Adams.

This satirical print depicts editor-publisher John Binn, who published a number of handbills that accused Jackson of arbitrary executions, as well as other violent acts. The anger campaign somewhat back-fired and led to pro-Jackson handbills and cartoons, such as this one. Binn is seen here supporting a load of coffins on his back, along with the figures of Henry Clay on the left and the incumbent President John Quincy Adams on the right. Binns: “I must have an extra dose of Treasury-pap, or down go the Coffins Harry, for I feel faint already.” Clay: “Hold on Jonny Q—for I find that the people are too much for us, and I’m sinking with Jack and his Coffins!” Adams: “I’ll hang on to the Chair Harry, in spite of Coffin hand-bills Harris’s letter Panama mission or the wishes of the People.”

This led to a full-blown mud-slinging campaign on both sides. Adams was accused of misusing public funds (he bought a chessboard and a pool table). In addition to the murders, Jackson was accused of adultery (his wife’s divorce papers were not finalized before their marriage). In the end, Jackson’s popularity grew and he won the election. The final electoral vote results were: Jackson 178, Adams 83.

All the World Going to See the Great Exhibition of 1851

George Cruikshank, 1792-1878. All the World Going to See the Great Exhibition of 1851. Etching, 1851. Signed at the center of globe.

This image first appeared in Henry Mayhew’s 1851 or The Adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Sandboys and Family, Who Came Up to London to ‘Enjoy Themselves,’ and to See the Great Exhibition (London: David Bogue, [1851]). The work includes ten etchings by George Cruikshank and a woodcut title page reproducing the design on the wrappers of the parts. Cruikshank is making fun of the approximately 25,000 people who attended the exhibition, which was conceived to demonstrate Britain’s status as an industrial power.

According to Cruikshank’s catalogue raisonne by Albert Cohn, Mayhew’s text was originally issued in eight parts in green wrappers, February-September 1851, and on completion in light blue stamped cloth, with a gilt design upon the spin. In the early issues there is an error in the pagination at p. 63, where in subsequent issues a leaf of advertisements is inserted to make good the omission on the numbering of the pages. The set was sold in parts for ten pounds and in blue cloth for four pounds.

A Memorial to President James A. Garfield


James Meyer Jr. The Late Administration … Our National Prosperity. Education, Church & State. God Reigns and the Government at Washington Still Lives. A Memento of 1881. Dedicated to the Memory of Our Honored Dead President and His Faithful Cabinet. New York: E.G. Rideout & Co., 1881. Color lithograph. 41 x 58 cm.

The commercial designer James Meyer created a series of broadsides, such as this one, as memorials to President James A. Garfield who was assasinated in September 1881. A smaller scale print was also commissioned by E.G. Rideout & Company and included in an issue of Household Journal (also called Household Guest Magazine) that same year. This is possibly in response to the fear of a nation-wide panic over two presidents being killed in the short span of 16 years.

College Comforts, A Freshman Taking Possession of his Rooms

[Isaac] Robert Cruikshank, “College Comforts, A Freshman Taking Possession of his Rooms,” in Charles Molloy Westmacott, The English Spy: an Original Work, Characteristic, Satirical, and Humorour. Comprising Scenes and Sketches in Every Rank of Society, Being Portraits of the Illustrious, Eminent, Eccentric, and Notorious. Drawn from the Life by Bernard Blackmantle … London: Sherwood, Jones, and Company, 1825-26.

This beautiful hand-colored etching is found opposite the lines: “Men are my subject, and not fictions vain;// Oxford my chaunt, and satire is my strain,” which precede Westmacott’s chapter entitled The Freshman, in part 4 of The English Spy. Note the “list of necessaries” being given to the young man as he enters his room.

For about 3 shillings in 1826, you could purchase the new installment of Bernard Blackmantle’s story (a pseudonym for Westmacott). This book has been described as “perhaps the most daring book every published”, since many of the characters were drawn from life, and were, at the time of publication, undoubtedly easy to recognize.

These 2 volumes are in the 24 original wrappers, each wrapper having on the front cover, a reproduction of the uncolored plate, “The Five Pincipal Orders of Society.” The set contains 72 colored plates, including 67 by Robert Cruikshank, 2 by Thomas Rowlandson, and one each by Wageman and Brightly; along with 36 woodcut illustrations. It can be seen in the graphic arts division, rare books and special collection: GA Cruik R 1825.3

The First Published Illustration of Yosemite Falls

| 1 Comment
Thomas A. Ayres (1816-1858). The Yo-Hamite Falls [caption title]. San Francisco: James M. Hutchings, Printed by Britton and Rey, [October 1855]. Lithograph, 23¼ x 15 inches, with an additional attached upper margin, measuring 3½ x 15 inches, bearing the words: “Hutching’s Panoramic Scenes in California.”

Thomas Ayres, a native of New Jersey, was the first artist to create an image of California’s beautiful Yosemite Falls for publication. The print was commissioned by James Mason Hutchings, publisher of Hutchings’ California Monthly. Traveling with three other men, Ayres and Hutchings entered Yosemite in June 1855. The group stayed in the area for five days and Ayres completed a number of drawings. Later, Hutchings had the sketches transferred to stone by the San Francisco artists, Kuchel and Dresel, and the stones printed by Britton and Rey. This view of the high falls appeared for sale in October 1855.

Hutchings also produced a pictorial letter sheet called Hutchings’ Panoramic Scenes and it has been suggested by William Reese that this copy of the Yo-Hamite print may have been created as a promotional display to promote Hutchings’ letter sheet. The print’s text reads “This magnificent scene is situated in the Yo-Hamite Valley near the source of the middle fork of the River Merced, Mariposa County California. It is the highest waterfall in the world - rushing over the precipice, at one bold leap it falls 1,300 feet, & the whole hight [sic] from valley is 2,300 feet.”

The following year, Ayres made a second trip to Yosemite and wrote about it in the Daily Alta California: “Upon another occasion we rode down the valley some six miles, and crossing the picturesque ford where the Mariposa trail enters the valley, ascended the mountain, reaching a point on the trail some fifteen hundred feet above the river. From here the traveler obtains the most complete general view of the entire valley… . To the right descends the Cascade of the Rainbow in all its beauty, giving life and expression to the scene, while the Two Domes bound the dim distance. All, all is as Nature has made it, fresh and beautiful from the hand of the Creator. On the glorious Fourth we were treated to a salute from Nature’s artillery. The effect of a thunderstorm in the valley was such as words cannot describe.

From crag to crag / Leaped the live thunder— / Not from one lone cloud, / But every mountain then had found a tongue.

… The time passed like a dream, and it was with regret that we left the beautiful Valley of the Yohemity, bound on an exploring trip to its head waters, far among the snow-clad peaks of the Sierra Nevada, of which more anon.” —Thos. A. Ayres, “A Trip to the Yohamite Valley,” Daily Alta California, 7, no. 207 (August 6, 1856).

Ayres’s drawings were exhibited in New York City and he was hired by Harpers Weekly to illustrate several articles on California. Sadly, his career was cut short in 1858, when the schooner he was riding to San Francisco capsized and Ayres was drowned.

The Print Shop of F. Delpech


Carle Vernet (1758-1836). Delpech’s Lithographic Print Shop, ca. 1818. Lithograph. Graphic Arts division.

At the beginning of the 19th-century, François-Séraphin Delpech (1778-1825) ran the most popular lithographic print shop in Paris. Delpech not only made beautiful lithographic prints from his own designs, but printed lithographs after designs by other artists, and sold these prints in his shop. Vernet’s print shows the front of Delpech’s shop, with potential buyers looking over the new work, while a young man exits the shop carrying a lithographic stone on his head.

Lithography was a relatively new art form, invented by Alois Senefelder (1771-1834) in Germany around 1798. In 1811, Senefelder published The Invention of Lithography, which was soon translated into English, French, and Italian, and the popularity of the technique soared. Senefelder’s book can be found in rare books and special collection, (GARF) NE 2420.S53.

Recent Comments

  • Howard Coblentz: I have a round seal shaped like a pear a read more
  • John Overholt: Wikipedia's entry for Sir Francis says: "Throughout Baring's lifetime his read more
  • Serge Rodrigue: It is a precious thing you have a book from read more
  • Colin Wicks: I have a copy of “A Round Game.” And it read more
  • Laurence Hilonowitz: I was a Customer, Friend of Bob Wilson. I Live read more
  • allen scheuch: Absolutely STUNNING! Those colors, those designs made my day! Thanks, read more
  • Olivier: Hello Diane, If you are still looking for an examplare read more
  • Stella Jackson-Smith: I have a framed picture by A.Brouet, signed with the read more
  • John Podeschi: I remember Dale fondly from my days at Yale (1971-1980). read more
  • Joyce Barth: I have some or all of this same poem. I read more