Caroline and Erwin Swann Memorial Exhibition

The Swann Memorial Exhibition reveals the power of cartoons to illuminate both human nature and history as well as provoke laughter and reflection. The diverse selection of images on display here represents the fascinating world of caricatures, political cartoons, comics, animation art, graphic novels, and illustrations. These treasured cartoons from the Swann and other cartoon collections indicate the broad range of holdings in the Library of Congress.

This exhibition of facsimiles was made possible by Erwin Swann (1906–1973) and his wife Caroline (1913–1964), whose impressive collection of cartoon art was bequeathed to the Library in two installments in 1974 and 1977 with an endowment fund. An avid collector, Erwin Swann began building his collection in the early 1960s, eventually assembling more than 2,000 works of cartoon art representing 400 artists and spanning two centuries. The quality and variety that characterize the Swann Collection attract new cartoon donations each year enabling the Library's graphic arts resources to grow in breadth, depth, and capacity to inspire new scholarship and creativity.

Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon

New York advertising executive Erwin Swann (1906–1973) was an avid collector of original cartoon drawings by notable humorous and satiric artists. With encouragement from his wife Caroline (1913–1964), he began acquiring cartoon art works in the early 1960s and soon had more than 2,000 drawings and prints representing 400 artists and spanning two centuries. In 1967, he established the Swann Foundation in order to encourage appreciation for the dynamic, evolving field of cartoon and illustration arts.

An early advocate for the serious treatment of cartoon art, Swann enlisted legendary figures for his advisory board, including caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, cartoonist Rube Goldberg, and humorist S. J. Perelman. Since its inception, the Swann Foundation has helped preserve a vital aspect of cultural heritage by expanding the formal study of cartoons created by artists from around the world. The Foundation, administered since 1996 by the Library's Prints and Photographs Division, continues to sponsor annual fellowships for scholarly study at the Library of Congress, support publications and exhibitions, offer public lectures to reach new audiences, and acquire and preserve more cartoons.

Thanks to Erwin Swann's impressive vision, the Swann Foundation endures as an invaluable catalyst for broadening recognition of the cartoon arts and producing an impact that extends beyond national borders.