Special Collections Division


Finding Aid to the Elizabeth Delson Collection, 1961-1989

Processed by Chad Leinaweaver ; processing completed September 2008.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Elizabeth Delson Collection
Dates: 1961-1989
Extent: 3.0 linear feet (1 flat box)
Abstract: Collection of 33 original prints by artist Elizabeth Delson, as well as copies of her art notebooks.
Provenance: Gift of Sidney L. Delson in February 2008.
Preferred Citation: This collection should be cited as: Elizabeth Delson Collection, Special Collections Division, Newark Public Library.
Collection Call Number: Print D364:(1-33):51, 52, 65

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Restrictions on Access

Access Restrictions

Available by appointment only.

Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff.

Use Restrictions

Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.

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Processing Notes

Background material on the artist as well as copies of her notebooks were placed into the Artist’s Information File under Elizabeth Delson.

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Biographical Note

Elizabeth Delson, who preferred the name Liz, was a painter and printmaker who concentrated on many subjects including mythology, classical literature, marine life and nature, but also generated work in other areas. She was quoted in the May 1966 issue of Civic News as saying "I am trying to express change – life and death, growth and decay, things beginning and things ending." Delson was born on August 15, 1932 in North Plainfield, New Jersey, the daughter of German immigrant parents, both of whom were chemists. She graduated from Smith College, studied with Philip Guston and Richard Lindner at Pratt Institute, studied printmaking with Gabor Peterdi at Hunter College, studied with Letterio Calapai at the New School and also studied with Krishna Reddy at New York University. She lived with her husband Sidney Delson, first in Brooklyn, and later in East Hampton, Long Island.

Delson printed all of her work herself and had a press in her studio at home—later in her work she owned an etching press built by Charles Brand. She felt very strongly that the act of printing a plate was also a part of the art process and she also took very seriously the act of titling her prints, never giving “untitled” to any of her works. She created editions for the Associated American Artists, won two Audubon Artists Gold Medals and two Pen and Brush Club awards. She did much of her work as etchings, but also created many oil paintings and experimented with engravings, embossing, hand coloring, lithography, and aquatints. Some of her etching work involved relief images created from the plate, but without ink alongside inked etchings tied into the similar theme.

In addition to her interest in printmaking, she was also involved in community service aspects in art. She was co-founder of the Park Slope Annual Art Exhibitions, a charter member of the Contemporary Artists Guild and served on the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Museum Community Gallery and the Artists Alliance of East Hampton. She died in East Hampton on October 3, 2005 survived by her husband and three children.

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Scope and Content

The collection contains 33 prints by artist Elizabeth Delson—a representative sampling of her work in the print world from the 1960s through the 1980s. The prints are largely color and black-and-white etchings, some of which Delson used in conjunction with an inkless impression, aquatint, or embossing processes. Eight of the prints are part of her Cats Series, while the others carry themes of aquatic life, animals and plant life, bodies of water and nude models. Of particular note are An Apple A Day depicting Adam and Eve and Sun Signs which provides representations of the Zodiac signs.

The donor also provided copies of her print notebooks for the prints included in this collection. The notebooks provided information on each of her works including the processes, when they were exhibited, any awards achieved, and their collection history. The notebook entries are very detailed and establish a numbering system for her prints and paintings, which coincide with her online catalog raisonné and the container list for this collection. The description of the print processes are extensive—noting paper sizes, number of impressions, etc.—and she notes whether there were artists’ proofs made, the price she was selling the prints, and exactly what part of the editions were exhibited at what galleries and when.

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Access Points

The entries below represent persons, organizations, topics, forms, and occupations documented in this collection.

Subject Names:

Delson, Elizabeth, 1932-2005
Adam (Biblical figure), in Art
Eve (Biblical figure), in Art

Subject Topics:

Aquatic Animals—1970-1990
Art, Abstract

Document Types:

Mixed media—1960-1990

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Elizabeth Delson: Painter-Printmaker, online catalogue raisonné, accessed at: www.atelierliz.com/
25 September 2008.

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Container List

Numbers assigned to the prints in relation to Delson’s online catalog raisonné are in parentheses. The prints were organized alphabetically, as donated, with the Cats Series pulled together. "A/P" on this list refers to an artist’s proof copy. Note that not all prints were noted on the print as being part of an edition.

Separate Prints

Item No.
Print Title
Size cm (in.)
D364:1:52 (001) A Fish out of Water NA 61 x 51 (24 x 20 ) 1976
D364:2:51 (004) A Little Bestiary A/P 49 x 28 (19 x 11) 1968
D364:3:52 (009) An Apple a Day NA 29 x 38 (11-1/2 x 15) 1969
D364:4:65 (011) Angry Sea 2/6 57 x 66 (22-1/4 x 25-3/4) 1964

Cats Series

Item No.
Print Title
Size cm (in.)
D364:5:52 (031) Frolicsome Felines A/P 39 x 57 (15-1/4 x 22-1/2) 1978
D364:6:52 (032) Just Looking NA 29 x 38 (11-1/4 x 15) 1988
D364:7:51 (033) Nine Lives NA 57 x 37 (22-1/4 x 14-3/4) 1972
D364:8:52 (034) Persian Delight NA 28 x 38 (11 x 15) 1989
D364:9:52 (035) Poor Butterfly NA 29 x 38 (11-1/4 x 15) 1989
D364:10:52 (036) The Birdwatcher NA 28 x 38 (11 x 15) 1989
D364:11:52 (037) The Intruder NA 28 x 38 (11 x 15) 1989
D364:12:52 (038) Three’s a Crowd NA 28 x 38 (11 x 15) 1988

Additional Separate Prints

Item No.
Print Title
Size cm (in.)
D364:13:52 (048) Ebb Tide NA 45 x 43 (17-3/4 x 17) 1979
D364:14:65 (091) Garden of Allah NA 41 x 30 (16-1/4 x 11-3/4) 1973
D364:15:51 (100) Idle Hour II 15/120 26 x 33 (10-1/4 x 13) 1972
D364:16:52 (123) Marine Life NA 67 x 51 (26-1/4 x 20) 1977
D364:17:52 (124) Marine Life II 3/6 77 x 57 (30 x 22-1/2) 1985
D364:18:31 (138) Metamorphosis II 2/20 61 x 47 (24 x 18-1/2) 1964
D364:19:52 (139) Mirror, Mirror on the Wall 8/50 26 x 57 (10 x 22-1/4) 1979-80
D364:20:52 (206) Nike VI 6/20 57 x 55 (22-1/2 x 21-3/4) 1981
D364:21:51 (207) Nine Owls 49/50 26 x 57 (10 x 22-1/4) 1970
D364:22:65 (218) Patchwork Quilt II Variations 8/12 57 x 38 (22-1/4 x 15) 1980-81
D364:23:52 (221) Peonies NA 46 x 42 (18 x 16-1/2) 1979
D364:24:65 (251) Silver Lake NA 42 x 39 (16-1/2 x 15-1/4) 1973
D364:25:65 (254) Somewhere Over the Rainbow NA 35 x 38 (13-1/2 x 15) 1974
D364:26:65 (255) Song of Wind and Water 24/25 47 x 60 (18-1/2 x 23-1/2) 1962
D364:27:52 (263) Sun in the Mountain 10/20 40 x 44 (15-1/2 x 17-1/2) 1961
D364:28:52 (264) Sun Signs NA 57 x 56 (22-1/4 x 22) 1971
D364:29:52 (265) Sweet Thoughts for Troubled Times: Commercials Are Better than Ever 7/14 38 x 28 (14-1/2 x 11) 1968
D364:30:52 (268) The Deep NA 62 x 45 (24-1/4 x 17-3/4) 1981
D364:31:51 (271) The Old Model 14/20 35 x 22 (14 x 8-1/2) 1965
D364:32:52 (273) Tide Patterns 3/8 28 x 63 (11 x 24-1/2) 1964
D364:33:65 (294) Variations (Murex Tenuispina) NA 54 x 42 (21 x 16-1/2) 1979

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