Architectural plans explored in
this section range from a royal project in Italy to designs for domestic buildings
in the United States. These carefully executed pen-and-wash drawings exemplify
the work of professional architects of the eighteenth century. The work of the
Italian Francisco La Vega, as well as that of Benjamin Latrobe, is permeated by
the ideals of neoclassicism spreading from the continent of Europe throughout
the Western world.
Prints and drawings of the nineteenth century are investigated
in the second section of essays. The first article is devoted to forty-nine Rembrandt
restrikes which the author attempts to place in their proper time frame. Rembrandt
etchings enjoyed a revival of popularity in the, beginning of the nineteenth century;
thus the correct identification of restrikes becomes a challenging puzzle for
the print connoisseur. In the following article we return to Benjamin Latrobe,
whose contribution to the design of the U.S. Capitol forms a well-documented chapter
in the building's history. The Library is fortunate in owning a unique watercolor
rendering of Latrobe's exterior view of the Capitol.
The invention of lithography
in 1798 brought a new versatile technique to the aid of book illustrators, advertising
artists, political cartoonists, and publishers of historical and popular prints,
who welcomed a quick and inexpensive method of getting their pictures to the public.
Several articles explore the use of this new vehicle of printmaking. The one on
Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet, a French illustrator, explains how he used images to
express his enthusiasm for Napoleon in hundreds of lively scenes of day-to-day
life during the reign of Bonaparte. In Germany the new method was put to the service
of politics. The Library's two broadsides announcing the rise of Prussia were
produced to advise neighboring countries of an imminent power struggle among the
nations of Europe.
In the United States lithography was used to advantage in the newly developing
field of commercial advertising of luxury goods. Examples of this are
the colorful tobacco labels treated in the fourth article in this section.
These images mirror the social concerns of the middle of the nineteenth
century, the artists having borrowed freely from bookplates, fashion illustrations,
and newspapers of the day. Lithographed letterheads also made their first
appearance during this period. These tiny pictures of American cities
are of historical interest because they capture the cityscapes at a specific
period and state of growth possibly not documented in any other pictorial
source. In contrast to these small images, large-size lithographic posters
were used to advertise the performing arts.
viii / Preface
The most spectacular advertisements
were those announcing the latest events in the world of opera, vaudeville,
music hall, and circus.
Schools used lithographic
wall charts as aids to object teaching. Industrial entrepreneurs and manufacturers
of elegant consumer goods used lithographic advertisements to publicize items
ranging from locomotives and pistols to gas "smoothing-irons," bicycles, and sewing
machines. The pictorial essay on women, the last article in this section, makes
use of many of these lithographs because they mirror different facets of the daily
activities of the American woman in the second half of the nineteenth century.
The two other essays in this section are devoted to original drawings. The Leutze
sketchbooks reveal the working methods of an American artist who based his murals
for the U.S. Capitol on studies made in the American West, while a more exotic
selection of eyewitness accounts is the Library's collection of Yokohama-e, Japanese
ink-and-wash drawings of the first Americans who landed in Japan with Commodore
Perry in 1853. These images from the Orient furnish an entertaining and revealing
view of the way Westerners appeared to Japanese observers. The drawings were converted
into popular woodcuts, and many different editions were published in the 1850s
before the novelty of the subject matter wore off.
The third section of essays
describes prints, drawings, cartoons, and posters from the turn of the century
to the 1960s. Six of these essays are devoted to individual artists. John Singer
Sargent used the lithographic medium to develop pictorial ideas later to be translated
into larger works. William Glackens appears in this sampler as artist-reporter
of the Spanish-American War. His drawings of the troops in action capture the
time and place of the dramatic events and point to his later career as a prominent
painter of the Ashcan school. The Austrian-American composer Arnold Schonberg
is discussed here as painter of a small work called Vision. This portrait from
1910 is typical of the expressionist style of the period. It is also the visual
equivalent of the trends in contemporary music. Clifford Kennedy Berryman's career
as political cartoonist spans over fifty years of American history, from the 1890s,
when cartoons first became regular features in American newspapers, through the
Truman era. His pictorial commentary on Washington politics and the international
scene provides a visual record of the major issues of the first half of the twentieth
century. Fritz Eichenberg's work focuses on the graphic interpretation of some
of the seminal writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His woodcuts
capture the essence of a story and translate it into pictorial form. In the essay
Preface / ix included here, Eichenberg explains his working methods and shows
us the development of an idea from quick, sketchy notation to final finished solution.
Max Beckmannn's lithographic sheets for his "Day and Dream" series are an expressionistic
interpretation of scenes from his life. The artist remains deliberately enigmatic,
leaving the explanation of his pictures to the imagination of the viewer.
articles in this section document the somewhat more lively and topical mood of
contemporary images. One on Mexican graphic art of the twentieth century shows
how the graphic work involved brings the national concerns of the country into
sharp focus. Pre-Columbian and Western stylistic elements are fused into a Mexican
indigenous expression interpretive of native subjects and the aspirations of the
people. Modern graphic art has here succeeded in filling an artistic as well as
a social need. No discussion of twentieth-century visual art is complete without
some reference to advertising art, which touches the imagination of more individuals
than any other visual art form of our times. Appropriately, the last short essay
in the section describes a motion-picture poster of Charlie Chaplin.
there is no common subject, medium or purpose readily available to help us fit
the graphics explored by our authors into a comprehensive pattern, it is the joy
of the Prints and Photographs Division that its collections are rich and inexhaustible.
This abundance is reflected in the final article on the Library's architectural
collections, which discusses the advantages offered to researchers in a special
subject area by our unparalleled graphic collections. As is so amply demonstrated
here, they can be explored from many different points of view and continually
offer the user ever new and fresh images for his inspiration.
ix / Preface