2005 Imprint Volume 30-2 Autumn


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186. “Notes by James D. Smillie upon Presenting His Father.s Collection of Engravings to the New York Public Library,” ed. By Donald C. O’Brien, Vol. 30, No. 2 (Autumn 2005), 2-6.

James D. Smillie (1833-1909) prepared the “Notes” reproduced here in conjunction with presenting the print collection of his father, James Smillie (1807-1885), to the New York Public Library in 1901. The son describes his father’s work as an engraver in New York City beginning in 1830, after emigrating from Scotland via Quebec. James Smillie engraved plates after the works of numerous artists for several periodicals and for the American Art Union, always striving to effectively translate color into monotone.

187. Hijar, Katherine, “The Pin-up, the Piano, and the Parlor: American Sheet Music, 1840-1860,” Vol. 30, No. 2 (Autumn 2005), 7-21.

The piano was a central feature of many nineteenth-century American homes, and pictorial sheet music covers complemented musical pleasures with treats for the eyes. Hijar’s essay draws on American sheet music covers from the antebellum period in order to explore some of the subtle ways that these everyday prints brought the erotic into American homes. Hijar looks closely at eight covers from the collection of the American Antiquarian Society to show how artists, lithographers, and publishers marketed imaginary women as objects of beauty and instruments of pleasure. Included in the discussion are lithographs by Eliphalet Brown, Jr.; P. S. Duval; Sarony; Sarony & Major; Sarony & Co.; Sarony, Major, & Knapp; J. H. Bufford; and Currier & Ives.

188. J. Robert Maguire, “His Excellency and Lady Washington: A Pair of Mezzotint Portraits by Joseph Hiller, Sr., or Samuel Blyth?” Vol. 30. No. 2 (Autumn 2005), 22-33.

Of the nearly nine hundred entries in Charles Henry Hart’s 1904 Catalogue of the Engraved Portraits of Washington, the identity of the engraver of No. 1 on the list has from the start been the subject of speculation. In 1969, Wendy J. Shadwell, a noted authority, persuasively argued the case of Joseph Hiller, Sr., of Salem, Massachusetts, as engraver of the print, together with that of a companion portrait of Martha Washington. Newly considered evidence, however, suggests that the pair of mezzotint portraits may actually have been the work of another Salem engraver, Samuel Blyth. The scholarly collector Hall Park McCullough inspected the Washington print in 1908, and in an unpublished memorandum noted the similarity of the engraving to three unique mezzotints included in the 1904 sale of the celebrated Alfred S. Manson Collection. “It was ptd [painted] the same way,” he wrote, referring to the “contemporary style” of hand-coloring mezzotints with liquid-soluble crayon, concluding that they “may all be by Blythe.” While Nina Fletcher Little discussed the coloring medium in her authoritative 1972 study of the Blyth brothers of Salem, she did not at that date connect either brother with the rare companion portraits of George and Martha Washington–examples of which were present in the extensive collection she and her husband had assembled. By the time their collection was sold in 1994, however, the two scholarly collectors had apparently come to share Hall Park McCullough’s opinion. A single lot in the sale that included the portrait of Lady Washington, two of the three engravings from the Manson sale and a fourth mezzotint, of Cleopatra, signed S. Blyth, are all “attributed to Samuel Blyth (Blythe).” The marked stylistic similarities in the engravings, as well as the coloring, tend to support McCullough’s attribution to Samuel Blyth.

189. Christopher W. Lane, “Even More Unconventional Currier & Ives,” Vol. 30, No. 2 (Autumn 2005), 34-40.

The popular print publisher Currier & Ives used many sources for its prints. While most Currier & Ives prints were based on drawings made specifically for the firm, Nathaniel Currier and James Ives were not above issuing prints taken directly from previously- published images. A pair of previously-undocumented large folio prints, The Pirates and Slave Trade, were just slightly modified lithographic copies of European engravings after Auguste Francois Biard. Another unrecorded Currier & Ives print was simply a reprinting of a British print of New York City titled Broadway From The Bowling Green with a Currier & Ives imprint added.