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Portraits and People in Original Prints
Second Floor Gallery
March 11 through June 10, 2002
curated by William J. Dane

An exhibition Portraits and People in Original Prints is on view in a gallery at The Newark Public Library from March 11 through June 10, 2002. Reliable dictionaries define a portrait as "a pictorial representation of a person especially of the face, painted, drawn, engraved, photographed or the like; a likeness, especially one painted from life." Portraits, including self-portraits by artists, have been an essential and popular medium for artists from ancient times right up to the current scene in the 21st century. Indeed portraits are so important that there is a National Portrait Museum in Washington, D.C. for the preservation and exhibit of major figures in America’s history and there is a National Portrait Museum in London maintaining and showing portraits of great as well as less notable persons in the long history of the British Isles. With the appeal of portraits and people pictured in prints in mind, William J. Dane, Keeper of Prints at The Newark Public Library has selected over 50 works of graphic art from The Library’s large Fine Print Collection which are portraits of individuals or groups of people by a wide variety of artists.

The Goldsmith Jan Lutma, reproduction of an etching by Rembrandt, 1656.

The Goldsmith Jan Lutma, reproduction of an etching by Rembrandt, 1656.

A color serigraph of Josephine Baker, Mozart enjoying a game of billiards and Gustav Mahler the famed Austrian composer and conductor represent the world of music. An etching by Pablo Picasso shows a hedonist gathering in his depiction of a scene from "Lysistrata" by the classic Greek dramatist, Aristophanes. A portrait of Jan Lutma done in 1656 by Rembrandt is an appealing etching showing an Amsterdam jeweler comfortably seated in a chair with selected tools of his trade on a nearby table.

The American artist, John Sloan, was a leader of the Ash-Can school of American realist painting which took artists out of their studios to create scenes of everyday life. Sloan has four works in The Library’s show with a sentimental and loving portrait of his mother along with three scenes of life in Manhattan. Other prints include groups of people in the terrible years of the Great American Depression of the 1930s as shown in lithographs by Raphael Soyer and "Union Square" by Nicolai Cikovsky plus an earlier sad etching of a downtrodden family in 1909 by Berlin artist, Kathe Kollwitz. She championed people who were underprivileged, poverty-stricken and often seriously ill.

Click for larger image. The Mission, lithograph by Raphael Soyer, 1935. 
The Mission, lithograph by Raphael Soyer, 1935. 

Much happier scenes are found in "Bal de Barriere", a color lithograph by Theophile Steinlen of a rowdy dance hall in Paris in the late 19th century, and a color etching from 1906 entitled "Little Miss Green Willow" by Helen Hyde of San Francisco who spent nearly 15 years living in Japan while studying the Japanese technique of color woodblock prints. The celebrated American writer, Gertrude Stein, is shown in a witty cut-out Pop Art print by Red Grooms. Our American president and Civil War hero, Ulysses S. Grant is pictured in a large color lithograph racing his horse, Dexter, down the Bloomingdale Road in 1868, in New York. 

Click for larger image. Portrait of Gertrude Stein, color lithograph (cut out version) by Red Grooms.

Portrait of Gertrude Stein, color lithograph (cut out version) by Red Grooms.

Click for larger image. Dexter's Best Time on the Bloomingdale Road, NY, color lithograph showing Ulysses S. Grant and Robert Bonner in the driver's seat, by William Boell, 1869.

Dexter's Best Time on the Bloomingdale Road, NY, color lithograph showing Ulysses S. Grant and Robert Bonner in the driver's seat, by William Boell, 1869.

Other historic works are represented by "Caught" from an original engraving by Thomas Nast for the cover illustration of "Harper’s Weekly" for the Christmas eve issue in 1881. The jovial, chubby, pipe-smoking image of Santa Claus became the standard icon for the adored Santa of today. An 1836 hand-colored mezzotint entitled "My Own Fireside" captures the cozy look of an early Victorian scene of two young women enjoying the pleasures of a warm hearth. More recent prints are Pop Art images of close up portraits of the faces of young women by Alex Katz and Roy Lichtenstein who early in his career taught studio art at Douglass College in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Click for larger image. Night in New York, drypoint etching by Martin Lewis, 1932.
Night in New York, drypoint etching by Martin Lewis, 1932.
Two very large steel engravings in the exhibit depict groups of people in both tragic and uplifting historic times. Paul Girardet’s haunting print, "The Last Victims of The Terror from the Era of The French Revolution" shows a highly dramatic and darkly emotional scene of human desparation as the victims who are gathered together in a Paris dungeon awaiting, in many cases, for death sentences by guillotine. A panoramic scene of Americans signing the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain on July 4th, 1776 in Philadelphia, a world shaking event, includes a numbered sketch revealing the identity of each of the brave and notable citizens who were there for that unique event.
Click for larger image. Mother and Daughter, color lithograph by Henri-Jacques Evenpoel, 1897.

Mother and Daughter, color lithograph by Henri-Jacques Evenpoel, 1897.

Other memorable prints by Adolf Konrad, Werner Drewes, Erich Heckel and the engraving tools of Dr. Alexander Anderson make for a variety of portrait interpretations from two centuries. The exhibit is open free of any charges at 5 Washington Street in downtown Newark during regular Library hours which are Monday, Friday and Saturday from 9a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. For additional facts and details, please call the curator at 973-733-7745.

 

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