London Print Shop
In the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries, print shops were distinctive features of London, offering caricatures for sale or evening rental, and providing free entertainment for passersby. In this example, George M. Woodward presents contrasting reactions from two men looking at caricatures of themselves in the window: Parson Puzzletext is angry, while Captain Ruiz advises calm because caricaturists “like to see people in a passion.” Woodward focused mainly on middle- and lower-class subjects in the more than 500 popular prints he created.
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French Social Satire
In this lithograph, Honoré Daumier suggests that what is deemed foreign or strange depends on the eye of the beholder. If French people and animals were exhibited in China, they would be a remarkable curiosity and attract crowds. In addition to lighthearted social satire, Daumier also drew biting portrayals of the powerful and strongly influenced succeeding generations of artists.
Honoré Daumier (1808–1879). Le Jardin des Plantes à Pékin—Les Chinois admirant beaucoup un quadrupéd de France et un bipède du même pays. . . . (The Botanic Garden at Peking—The Chinese admire a quadruped from France and a biped from the same country. . . . ). Published in Le Charivari, May 13, 1854. Reproduction from original, hand-colored lithograph. Purchase, 1932. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (2) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-cph-3g04464]
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Lincoln’s Civil War Policies
Miss Columbia, a symbol of the American people, confronts President Abraham Lincoln and decries the enormous human toll of the Civil War by demanding, “Mr. Lincoln, give me back my 500,000 sons!!!” Lincoln avoids her gaze and replies evasively despite the proclamation at his feet calling for more troops. Produced late in the Civil War, this print criticizes the president’s war policy. Artist Joseph E. Baker, produced many military prints for J. H. Bufford in Boston.
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Commentary on World War I
American artist Boardman Robinson depicts the figure of Death urging an emaciated donkey towards a precipice with a carrot labeled “Victory.” By questioning the possibility of victory in World War I, Robinson conveyed his opposition to it in this and other cartoons published in The Masses, the leftist journal to which he began contributing in 1912. Influenced by the work of Honoré Daumier (1808–1879), Robinson developed his hallmark style using emphatic, expressive strokes of lithographic crayon.
Boardman Robinson (1876–1952). Europe 1916. Published in The Masses, October, 1916. Reproduction from original drawing in lithographic crayon, ink, and opaque white. Swann Memorial Fund purchase, 1993. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (4) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-ppmsca-30754]
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An elegant beauty is shown smoking in this dramatic drawing by Russell Patterson dating from the 1920s, a time when a woman smoking was regarded as glamorous, yet risqué. The jagged lines of her hem and bent arm play off the exaggerated loops of smoke wafting across black space. A cartoonist, illustrator, and designer, Patterson won a following for his images of flappers and other stylish figures that appeared in such magazines as College Humor, Collier’s, Liberty, Cosmopolitan, and Life.
Russell Patterson (1896–1977). Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire, ca. 1920. Reproduction from original drawing in India, red, and brown inks with watercolor. Gift and bequest from Caroline and Erwin Swann, 1977. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (5) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-ppmsca-01589]
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The vividly colored Gasoline Alley used to fill an entire page in the Sunday newspaper comics section. In this early example, Uncle Walt and little Skeezix enjoy an outing in Walt’s roadster until the radiator boils over, which cuts short their trip. Frank King debuted Gasoline Alley in 1919. When Baby Skeezix appeared on Walt’s doorstep on February 14, 1921, the characters began to age normally, a ground-breaking development in comics. The strip continues to be published.
Frank King (1883–1969). Gasoline Alley. “This is the life, Skeezix!” 1923. Published in the Chicago Tribune, June 24, 1923. ©1923, Chicago Tribune. Reproduction from original drawing in India ink, watercolor, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Gift/Purchase, Art Wood, 2001. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (6) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-ppmsca-03292]
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Mexican-born artist Miguel Covarrubias pairs the aging capitalist John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (1839–1937), with the communist leader Josef Stalin (1878–1953). Covarrubias portrays the men as captains of industry in one of his “Impossible Interviews,” his celebrated series in Vanity Fair that featured well known public figures who would never be seen together in real life. A master caricaturist, Covarrubias boldly distorts the outer appearances of his subjects as a means of suggesting inner traits of character.
Miguel Covarrubias (1904–1957). John D. Rockefeller Senior vs. Josef Stalin, 1932. Published in Vanity Fair, April, 1932. Reproduction from original drawing in gouache. Gift and bequest from Caroline and Erwin Swann, 1977. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (7) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-ppmsca-10858]
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Civil Rights in Russia
This imagined scene shows Russian writer Boris Pasternak (1890–1960) and a fellow prisoner splitting logs and discussing their “crimes.” Bill Mauldin won his second Pulitzer Prize in 1959 for this cartoon in which he sharply criticizes the Soviet Union for not allowing Pasternak to travel to accept his Nobel Prize for literature. Perhaps best known for his World War II cartoons, Mauldin went on to produce many cartoons championing the oppressed, particularly those being deprived of their civil rights.
Bill Mauldin (1921–2003). “I won the Nobel Prize for literature. What was your crime?” 1958. Published October 30, 1958. Reproduction from original drawing in ink, crayon, and opaque white over graphite. Gift of the artist, 1975. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (8) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-ppmsca-03231]
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Jules Feiffer’s Signature Character
Jules Feiffer celebrates escape through his signature character, the dancer in the black leotard. As she moves upward and away, a small boy admires her ascent. This example exhibits the flowing, spontaneous quality of Feiffer’s drawing and the indomitable spirit of this recurring figure. Feiffer’s distinctive use of panels for humorous social and political satire challenged traditional distinctions between comic strip and editorial cartoon and influenced many cartoonists at work today.
Jules Feiffer (b. 1929). Feiffer. A Dance to Summer, 1964. Published in The Village Voice, June 25, 1964. Reproduction from original drawing in ink over graphite underdrawing with paste-on. Gift of the artist, 2001. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (9) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-ppmsc-00183]
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Caricature of S. J. Perelman
David Levine deploys an amazing variety of lines to portray the strong features of the American humorist S. J. Perelman (1904–1979)—the bushy eyebrows, large bespectacled eyes, prominent nose, moustache, cleft chin, and asymmetrically shaped head. Note the use of thick, thin, curved, and straight lines, and parallel hatching. Beginning in 1963, Levine’s insightful drawings of leading writers and public figures were a defining feature of The New York Review of Books for more than four decades and brought him international acclaim.
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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
From left to right, each of the seven dwarfs, Bashful, Sleepy, Doc, Happy, Dopey, Grumpy, and Sneezy, is carefully individualized in facial expression, figure, and pose in this charming presentation drawing attributed to Swedish-born children’s book illustrator Gustaf Tenggren. The names and physical traits of the dwarfs in this drawing are retained in the popular film classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, created by Walt Disney (1901–1966). Tenggren worked on the later stages of Snow White and mainly provided inspirational sketches and publicity materials.
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Canadian artist Anita Kunz speculates humorously on the fate of American liberty at the start of the twenty-first century in this Fourth of July cover design for The New Yorker. The mountain climber who audaciously scales the face of Lady Liberty suggests the possibility of unexpected, unwelcome assaults on the free democracy symbolized by the Statue of Liberty. The drawing displays Kunz’s polished technique in gouache and her ability to engage viewers’ minds with provocative perspectives on powerful symbols.
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Oliver W. Harrington demonstrates how African American children’s aspirations are easily quashed in this and other examples from Dark Laughter, the cartoon feature that he created. The beautifully drawn figures and scene, along with the boy’s words combine to convey a poignant message on inequities of opportunity and exemplify Harrington’s effective use of cartoon art to comment sharply on race relations. After completing a degree in art from Yale University, he became one of the first African American cartoonists to win international recognition.
Oliver W. Harrington (1912–1995). Dark Laughter.“The teacher says that everyone can git to be president. Then how come the whole class falls out laughin’ when I tell ‘em that’s my dream,” 1960. Published in the Pittsburgh Courier, August 6, 1960 as “But what I don't understand is why. . . .” Reproduction from original drawing in ink, graphite and crayon. Swann Memorial Fund purchase, 1995. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (13) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-ppmsc-05882]
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First Spider-Man Cartoon
In the opening page of the Spider-Man origin story, Steve Ditko depicts the hero Peter Parker as a social outcast, physically distant from his classmates. The panel on the right signals Parker’s future transformation into the Marvel comic superhero. With writer Stan Lee, Ditko created this classic of the comic book’s “Silver Age” (1956–1969), an era of superheroes’ resurgence in the mainstream comic book industry, following the genre’s decline after World War II. Ditko’s clean, eye-catching design pulls the viewer into the scene and sets the suspenseful tone for the eleven- page story.
Steve Ditko (b. 1927). Spider-Man! 1962. Published in Amazing Fantasy, August 1962. Reproduction from original drawing in ink, opaque white, and overlay over graphite underdrawing. Gift from an anonymous donor, 2008. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (14) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-ppmsca-18747]
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Ann Telnaes uses streamlined, symbolic forms to highlight the plight of women in Afghanistan. The heavy ball and chain that shackles three Afghan women wearing burkas represents the power of the Taliban to limit their ability to move and be informed. Women in Afghanistan were particularly vulnerable targets at this time when U. S. forces were preparing to attack their country. A Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, Telnaes often draws attention to women’s issues around the world in her work.
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