Date Submitted: July 31, 2010
Article Type: Discourse
SCOTT SKINNER: ARE THESE IMAGES PART OF THE LIBRARY’S PERMANENT COLLECTION? WHY?
ANDREA IMMEL: All the images in the exhibition come from books in the Cotsen Children’s Library, a unit within the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the Princeton University Library. The collection, which consists of over 100,000 historical illustrated children’s books, manuscripts, original artwork, prints, and educational toys, was the gift of Lloyd E. Cotsen, class of 1950 and charter trustee of Princeton University. Mr. Cotsen has always been interested in images of children at play and I keep an eye out for new items to add to the collection.
WERE THEY CHOSEN WITH CONSIDERATION OF ARTIST, OR AS IMAGES OF AMERICANA, OR BOTH? ANY OF THESE ARTISTS “FAMOUS”? ALL OF THEM?
Cotsen’s virtual exhibitions are a way to let people who may never work in Princeton’s rare book reading room see some of the fascinating materials in the collection. One of the ideas is to show people things that will surprise them. I love to hear people say, “Oh, I had no idea there were pictures in children’s books about this,” or “I really like this Czech artist – how come I’ve never heard of him before? What else did he do?” So when researching an exhibition, I try to find as many intriguing images from as many different countries and time periods as possible. Of course, I hope to find terrific pictures by famous illustrators too. The virtual kite exhibition includes the work of a very important figure in the history of British children’s book illustration. It’s John Bewick, the brother of Thomas Bewick, the great 18th century natural history artist, who invented the technique of wood engraving. (See screen 7, item b in the virtual exhibit at http://library.princeton.edu/libraries/cotsen/ exhibitions2/Kites/Kites7b.html.) John was actually better at figure drawing and the invention of subjects than his big brother. Unfortunately, John died in his thirties of tuberculosis, but he produced an impressive body of illustrations for children’s books during his short but extremely busy career. One reason I chose this particular illustration was because of the kite’s unusual decorat ions . So was John copying something he had seen or was he using his imagination?
Page Number: 15
PDF Link: Discourse Issue