On Feb. 25, the Library opened the Swann Gallery, a new exhibition space in the Thomas Jefferson Building devoted to the art of caricature and cartoon. The inaugural exhibition, "Monstrous Craws & Character Flaws: Masterpieces of Cartoon and Caricature at the Library of Congress," features 18 original works by historical masters such as Thomas Nast and Honoré Daumier, as well as recently acquired work by modern artists such as Garry Trudeau, Robert Minor, Oliver Harrington, Dale Messick, Jules Feiffer and Al Hirschfeld. The exhibition will run through July 6, 1998.
The exhibition takes its title from James Gillray's 1787 etching Monstrous Craws, at a New Coalition Feast, which lampoons King George III and his family. Also included in the display are a seldom-seen original woodblock by Thomas Nast and the resultant engraving that was published in Harper's Weekly. French master Honoré Daumier is represented by one of his most powerful political works, "Rue Transnonain, April 15, 1834," which depicts a republican worker killed by Louis-Philippe's troops.
In addition, the Swann Gallery offers a permanent facsimile exhibition on the history of caricature and cartoon, illustrated with images drawn from the Library's holdings.
The Swann Gallery showcases the Library's collections in rotating exhibitions and promotes the continuing Swann Foundation program in the study of cartoon, caricature and illustration, while also offering a provocative and informative selection of works by past masters. New York advertising executive Erwin Swann (1906-1973) assembled an extraordinarily diverse collection of nearly 2,000 works of cartoon art representing 400 artists and spanning two centuries. He developed the collection specifically to promote the preservation and connoisseurship of original cartoon and illustration drawings.
The Library's related cartoon holdings include the largest collection of American political prints in existence, the finest assemblage of English satirical prints outside Great Britain, outstanding holdings of original drawings by generations of America's best cartoonists and illustrators, an important collection of early comic books and extensive runs of rare satirical and comic journals from Europe and the United States.
Curators for the exhibition are Harry Katz and Sara Duke. The gallery, located adjacent to the new Visitors' Center in the Jefferson Building, will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. An illustrated checklist will be available to visitors.