Thursday, November 19, 2009

General History

*so here's all the information i've gathered so far...this is all from the three library books listed on the links page...i tried to break it up in to sections/topics, but feel free to add or edit things!*

Golden Age of Illustration (1880-1914)

Factors Influencing/Contributing to the Rise of the Golden Age:

Before 1880
  • In the late 18th c. Thomas Bewick perfected the process of wood engraving. This became widely used in illustration because it was more efficient than copper & steel plate etching.
  • ^Then, the engraver was considered more important than the illustrator. They had more control over the finished product because it relied on the engraver's ability to interpret drawings given to them by illustrators and transfer them to the block. 
  • In 1861 William Morris founded "The Firm" - his decorative artwork revived handcrafts in danger of being lost to industrialization and inspired the formation of the Arts & Crafts group. Also supported the idea that a book could be seen as an integrated work of art in itself. 
  • Japan, after almost 200 years of isolation, re-opened its borders for trade in the last half of the 19th c.
  • In 1862, Japanese art was shown in Britain for the first time. Flat colors, asymmetric compositions, shallow spaces, feeling of openness in Japanese art & woodcuts had a profound influence on Euro. art of late 19th c. and offered an alternative to Victorian & decorative art.
  • Edmund Evans' (English engraver/printer who worked with authors/illustrators like Beatrix Potter, Lewis Carroll, & John Tenniel) first color printing was published in 1865.
  • By 1840s Philadelphia emerged as an "important manufacturing center for textiles, wallpapers, floor coverings, upholstered furniture, and publications." Decorative artists became in demand to embellish these products. In 1844 Sarah Peter founded the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, a conservative institute with an emphasis on decorative pattern and ornament. In 1885 the only school in Philadelphia to offer serious training for women art students was PAFA. 
  • Implementation of American Copyright Act (1790? - first one in U.S.) encouraged the use of local talent/stopped custom of re-engraving drawings by foreign artists and using them in American publications 

Advances in Printing Technology/the Industrial Revolution: 
  • Mass production and the development of high speed presses and the rotary press meant illustrations could be printed in half the time. 
  • Development of the half-tone plate in 1880s/90s led to monochrome and later color printing, freeing the artist from the pen & ink medium. Earlier reproductive techniques used in American books & periodicals were woodcuts, wood engravings, or copper plate engravings.
  • ^Illustrators started to take advantage of the fact that they were no longer limited to b&w work reproduced by the linear methods of wood engraving. Now that paint, color, & mark could be captured by this new 4 color (CMYK) printing process they began to derive styles from contemporary painting instead of the tradition of draftsmanship. The distinction between illustration and easel painting became blurred. 
  • Photography ended size restrictions on drawings b/c photos of drawings could be enlarged or reduced to fit the block for engraving. 
  • New developments in printing technologies meant that cheap, rapid publication was possible. 
  • ^Periodicals such as Harper's Monthly Magazine (introducted 1850) and Harper's Weekly (1857) and the introduction of 'penny books' in England had more of an appeal to children and reflected the beginnings of the concept of the 'totally designed book' (also supported by William Morris's Arts & Crafts movement). 
  • The Saturday Evening Post was resurrected in 1897. (a rival to Harper's Weekly)
  • Another rival, Collier's Weekly was founded in 1888. 
  • In the 1860s/70s the "dime novel" caused a revolution in American reading & publishing. In the 1860s Erastus & Irwin Beadle came up with the idea of publishing novels about America by America, for the cheap price of 10 cents - "Beadles' New Dime Novels". 
  • In 1893 McLure's Magazine was founded and sold for 15 cents a copy, becoming an immediate success.
  • By 1903, 85% of magazine circulation was periodicals 10 cents or less. 
  • The magazine industry became more competitive, and having distinctive illustrations was a way to create a unique/desirable 'look'. Advertisers began competing for the best artists to promote their products. 
  • Collier's and Ladies Home Journal adopted larger format magazines as a result of advertisers wanting to run bigger ads. 
  • "No longer fearful of being embarrassed by poor engraving, American illustrators began to sign their work." -leading to more recognition of illustrators vs. engravers
  • Postwar improvements in rail systems led to more widespread, easy distribution of publications
  • In late 19th c. periodicals and books were the only vehicle for bringing images of the world into American homes 

Previous Artistic Movements: 
  • Art nouveau, European in origin, made a sudden appearance in America with the Sept. 17 1896 Life cover by Penhryn Stanlaws and led to a revolution in the decorative arts.
  • Pre-Raphaelites imposed an artificial/decorative style on illustration, as an alternative to the pre-existing realistic style. They emphasized style as being as important as subject matter. 

American Civil War: 
  • In early 1800s, illustration was merely a 'stepping stone' to a career in painting. Because it was technically reproductive in idea & use, it was considered unoriginal. This attitude began to change once the Civil War started to produce a higher demand for newspapers & magazines. The term "Special Artist" was coined for artist-reporters.
  • After the Civil War, the graphic depiction of current events & contemporary lit. carried over into periodicals, newspapers, & books, enabling the general public to be informed of local/world happenings, political/social issues, and affect attitudes/tastes of the time. It also delineated lives of rich & poor in urban areas as well as the history of American cities. 

Social Change in America:
  • Leisure and literacy increased & expanded across social classes, met with an accommodating response from authors & illustrators. Literacy was nearly universal among middle-income families.
  • Increased opportunity meant an explosion in illustration publications during the late 19th c. Illustration became a profession. 
  • It was a period of general economic stability & prosperity.
  • Because of shorter working hours and new labor-saving inventions in the home & workplace, there was more leisure time available. 
  • Salaries were higher and the cost of living was inexpensive.
  • Education became available to all classes.
  • A rise in the popularity of sports magazines in America led to a rise in illustrations devoted to these subjects. (Photography eventually would replace drawings in specialized sports mags.)
  • America created national celebrations/special ways of observing traditional holidays, and began illustrating holiday gift books. Winslow Homer, Thomas Nast (creator of Santa Claus image) were popular illustrators of holiday themes & events in the 19th c.
  • Among the upper class, the wealthy vied for social recognition & status. A new social elite known as "The Four Hundred" (the creme de la creme) became like celebrities/socialites. Reporters followed society to document and showcase to those not a part of this elite. Artists were employed to describe latest fashions, costumes, & hairstyles, demonstrating the tastes/attitudes of the wealthy, which the public then tried to imitate. This was done with a mix of humor, social satire & commentary. (ex. include Charles Dana Gibson's "Gibson Girl")
  • Along with this^, artists demonstrated intent & sympathy for the working class. They also depicted the poor & deprived, trying to capture the reality of hardships of lower class life and show the simple pleasures of life, during the late 1800s. 
  • In illustration, artists mirrored the personality/culture of the time. It was rarely experimental or avant-garde and was rooted in the objective/realistic aesthetic on which art was based before the 1920s. While modern art shocked Americans used to traditional approaches, illustration served as a buffer to modern art of the 20th c. 
  • Overall attitude of America from 1890-1925 was optimistic. There was a philosophy of progression & expansion and it was a crucial period of cultural transformation.

Changes in Literature:
  • Throughout the golden age, the story became of prime importance. 
  • Before the "cheap magazine" revolution of the 1890s, literature tended to be more intellectual. Mass production necessitated the need for faster-moving, less demanding literature. The focus shifted from enlightenment to entertainment. 

Changes in Children's Literature:
  • Before 1870, children's lit. was too serious and lacked substance.
  • From the 1870s onward, writers began to recognize and write according to children's needs and developed a more realistic attitude toward child development. 

Trends-Europe vs. America: 
  • During the first half of the 19th c. there was a great deal of interchange between England & the U.S.
  • In America, book illustration tended to follow periodical illustration. In Europe, the opposite was true-a book was first published and, if successful, published to periodicals.
  • Art nouveau originated in Europe. Aubrey Beardsley, part of the English art nouveau group, was an important influence on American illustrators. 
  • Symbolism was a European literary movement-a revolt against rationalism and an attempt to express the inexpressible by symbol or allusion. Some aspects of this can be found in some of Howard Pyle's work from mid 1890s as well as Maxfield Parrish and other American artists.
  • George Cruikshank (1792-1878), a British caricaturist & book illustrator (illustrated Charles Dickens books like Oliver Twist), was a huge influence on illustrators of the 20th c. He handled a broad range of subjects and his influence can be seen in A.B. Frost, C.D. Gibson, Sloan, Glackens, and early Howard Pyle.
  • British artists Hablot K. Browne and John Leech's use of pen line as an expressive element had a direct influence on the styles of subsequent naturalist illustration in America & Europe over the next generation. 
  • Walter Crane provided a direct connection between English & American illustration of the 1880s/90s. He derived inspiration from Pre-Raphaelite work and responded to Japanese art. 
  • In American art schools, standard training was drawing from plaster casts before moving on to live models. In Europe, life drawing was started right away. Because of this, American artists traveled to European art schools and came back already accustomed to drawing live models. They approached art editors looking for work and began working away from publication houses, using live models as reference. While previously illustrators were kept on staff at publication houses, to avoid the cost of having to hire live models, publishers began giving assignments on a freelance basis. Hiring freelance allowed publishers to change illustrators frequently, introducing new styles into their publications, and illustrators were now free to accept assignments from different publishers. Females could also pursue illustration while staying at home with their families. Illustrators became "specialized", or known for certain types of work, which art directors considered in choosing artists for assignments. 

American Women Illustrators:
  • Illustration became one of the few readily accessible ways for a woman to earn a living. It was a career compatible with family life and travel.
  • Increased educational and professional opportunities for women.
  • Social transformation took place - marriage was not inevitable for all. 
  • Civil War reduced the male population - "shortage of eligible bachelors" ..."began to look for solutions to the problem of 'surplus' women." (more professional opportunities instead)
  • "The greatest handicap facing every woman artist was exclusion from the fraternity of male artists." 
  • In 1844 Sarah Peter founded the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, a conservative institute with an emphasis on decorative pattern and ornament. In 1885 the only school in Philadelphia to offer serious training for women art students was PAFA. 
  • "Feminine lines, floral ornamentation, unexpected asymmetry" popular in many women's work derived from Japanese decorative art and French art nouveau influence

African American Artist-illustrators:
  • Little was produced in the area of pure illustration until about 1930.
  • In the period after WWI, opportunities in the field of illustration were almost non-existent. 
  • ^This was likely due to a new wave of racism that evolved during that time than to the economic situation.
  • 1911-1930 was a time of expanding professionalism.

Formation of Societies, Clubs, & Organizations:
  • Before 1900, when illustrators sold drawings to publishers they sold the reproduction rights and drawings along with them. As illustrators gained status and recognition, publishers began selling works to the public while the illustrator received none of the royalties. In 1900 a group of illustrators met to discuss their complaints and formed the Society of Illustrators in 1901. They began admitting women in 1905 and became incorporated in 1921. It was intended as an organization for illustrators to discuss the business aspect of their careers and provide a social atmosphere to develop friendships among artists. It also helped organize war efforts in 1917. 
  • Howard Pyle had his famous "school" of students in Chadds Ford, PA.
  • Other organizations that drew authors, illustrators, editors, & publishers together include:
    • The Franklin Inn Club (est. 1902)
    • in New York:
      • the Salamungdi Club
      • the Lamb's Club
      • Watercolour Society
      • Tile Club
      • Dutch Treat Club
    • in Connecticut:
      • Knocker's Club
  • Females were often restricted access, so they formed their own clubs like the Plastic Club in PA. 
  • Exhibitions organized by these groups generated interest in the original drawings of illustrator art, leading illustration to become something to hang on people's walls rather than just something present in books & periodicals. 

Reasons for Decline of the Golden Age: 

  • The Golden Age peaked in 1917 and struggled after the war.
  • By the 1920s, photographs began to overtake periodicals and replaced illustrations for non-fiction articles. 
  • The public began to turn to movies and public radio instead of periodicals for entertainment.
  • After WWI, the general illustrated monthly lost popularity. 
  • The desire for lighthearted, entertaining literature dwindled and realism took its place, which was not as well-suited for illustration.
  • The only books that used artwork consistently anymore were for children.
  • After 1925, artists no longer enjoyed the high profile status they had from 1890-1925. 

Other opinions:
  • Publishers underestimated public tastes and forced illustrators to continue working in restrictive modes.
  • Illustrators were greedy and only wanted to make more money.
  • The fast pace of the 20th c. didn't allow time to create well-thought-out work.
  • New contracts giving artists ownership over their original work resulted in illustrators becoming more self-centered and more interested in the resale value of their work than its actual function.
  • Illustrators weren't considering the harmony of typeface, layout, & design to art.
  • Art schools were ignoring the spiritual aspect of being an artist. 
  • There was a decline in overall writing quality.

Victorian Age - good link:
-Period of Queen Victoria's reign - 1837-1901
-long period of prosperity - allowed for the development of middle class
    -overseas profits from empire (colonies, trade, etc.)
    -industrial developments 
-conflict between Gothic and Classic aesthetic - Gothic was  supported by the critic John Ruskin (see below), who argued that it epitomised communal and inclusive social values, as opposed to Classicism, which he considered to epitomize mechanical standardisation.
-big subjects of Victorian age painting-
    -social history
    -religious painting
    -external world - landscape, urban scenes
    -myth, symbol, folklore
-majority of printing pictures was done in woodblock or etching and sometimes handcolored (almost doubled the cost)


The original Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) was founded in 1849 by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), D.G. Rossetti, John Everett Millais (1829-1896), William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Thomas Woolner, and F. G. Stephens to "revitalize" the arts. They were heavily influenced by the theories of John Ruskin(see below). Below is their unofficial manifesto.

  1. Testing and defying all conventions of art; for example, if the Royal Academy schools taught art students to compose paintings with (a) pyramidal groupings of figures, (b) one major source of light at one side matched by a lesser one on the opposite, and (c) an emphasis on rich shadow and tone at the expense of color, the PRB with brilliant perversity painted bright-colored, evenly lit pictures that appeared almost flat.

  2. The PRB also emphasized precise, almost photographic representation of even humble objects, particularly those in the immediate foreground (which were traditionally left blurred or in shade) --thus violating conventional views of both proper style and subject.

  3. Following Ruskin, they attempted to transform the resultant hard-edge realism (created by 1 and 2) by combining it with typological symbolism. At their most successful, the PRB produced a magic or symbolic realism, often using devices found in the poetry of Tennyson and Browning.

  4. Believing that the arts were closely allied, the PRB encouraged artists and writers to practice each other's art, though only D.G. Rossetti did so with particular success.

  5. Looking for new subjects, they drew upon Shakespeare, Keats, and Tennyson (aka literary subjects)

John Ruskin - artist, critic - Ruskin believed that art communicated an understanding of nature, and that authentic artists should reject inherited conventions, and study and appreciate effects of form and colour by direct observation. His most famous dictum was "go to nature in all singleness of heart, rejecting nothing and selecting nothing." He later believed that the Pre-Raphaelites formed "a new and noble school" of art that would provide a basis for a thoroughgoing reform of the art world. For Ruskin, art should communicate truth above all things. However, he believed this was not revealed by mere display of skill, but the expression of the artist's whole moral outlook. Ruskin rejected the work of Whistler because he considered it to epitomise a reductive mechanisation of art. (much like the Arts and Crafts movement's rejection to mechanical reproduction)

The second form of Pre-Raphaelitism, which grows out of the first under the direction of D.G. Rossetti, is Aesthetic Pre-Raphaelitism, and it in turn produced the Arts and Crafts Movement, modern functional design, and the Aesthetes and Decadents. Rossetti and his follower Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) emphasized themes of eroticized medievalism (or medievalized eroticism) and pictorial techniques that produced moody atmosphere. This form of Pre-Raphaelitism has most relevance to poetry; for although the earlier combination of a realistic style with elaborate symbolism appears in a few poems, particularly those of the Rossettis, this second stage finally had the most influence upon literature. 

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