The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Art

Liverpool delft transfer-printed tiles; or, theatrical tiles explain’d

Thank you for all of your guesses on last week’s Crocodile Mystery! As several folks correctly surmised, this image is pigment on ceramic! Specifically, it is on a Liverpool delft transfer-printed tile, seen here in full:  And if you’re completely confused by the phrase “Liverpool delft transfer-printed tile”, well, I don’t blame you. So let’s break it down: “tile” is pretty self-evident.… Continue Reading

Creating John Gregory’s Bas Reliefs at the Folger

Who carved the John Gregory’s bas reliefs on the facade of the Folger? Reader’s of last week’s Collation post will know that the apparently obvious answer—John Gregory—is incorrect. Sculptor John Gregory (1879–1958) definitely created the works of art, but professional stone cutters chiselled away the marble until it exactly matched the plaster casts of Gregory’s full-size clay models. I’ll return to this photo later.… Continue Reading

Birdbrained

Thanks to everyone who took a guess on this month’s Crocodile Mystery! As several of you pointed out, the teaser image is of some breed of cockatoo or cockatiel. Although I usually know a hawk from a handsaw, I will leave questions about exactly which species or sub-family of Cacatuidae this artistic rendition is meant to represent to experts. The hand-colored print itself is an early- to mid-nineteenth-century lithograph of Act III, sc.… Continue Reading

The “Quartermaster’s Map” of England and Wales

Thanks for the excellent guesses on the identiy of the August Crocodile Mystery! If you’ll permit me to indulge myself, I’ll prolong the suspense a little longer by showing some examples of what it might have been, but isn’t (and if you won’t permit me, no one’s stopping you from scrolling down now to read the answer). As several people pointed out, the tall and skinny binding is the sort of thing you’d expect for a ledger or some other kind of  financial account book.… Continue Reading

Words with pictures, or, What’s in a name?

One of the points I like to make when I teach the History of Printed Book Illustration at Rare Book School is that images and words affect each other. The course deliberately focuses on illustrations—that is, on pictures and text that comment on each other, and affect each other’s meaning. It’s not just the aesthetic design and choice of subject that create meaning in book illustration, it’s the relationship between the visual and the verbal elements.… Continue Reading

A late 15th-century tapestry fragment with visible restorations

Yes, indeed, the Folger collection item the March 2020 Crocodile Mystery is two-toned because of fading (and yes, indeed, it is a tapestry). Congratulations and thanks to Elisabeth, Ed, and Carolyn for their comments. The mystery wasn’t quite solved, though: the darker areas were not protected from light by being folded under or covered by something opaque, as was proposed in the comments.… Continue Reading

Portrait of a Young African Woman

A guest post by Alicia Meyer The Folger Shakespeare Library houses three etchings of African diasporic people by Wenceslaus Hollar. While we may never know the identities of the figures in these images, Hollar’s artistic choices direct how we see and remember seventeenth-century black lives. In this set of images, the vulnerabilities of youth, gender, and rank, as well as skin color, refract the figures’ agency and influence the viewer’s gaze to different ends.… Continue Reading

Drawn by Hayman, etched by Gravelot, preserved in Folger ART Vol. b72

For the June 2019 “Crocodile Mystery” we asked you to spot the differences between these two pictures: The main difference, of course, is that one is pretty much the reverse of the other. There are significant compositional differences too, though: Background figures in A do not appear in B Running man holds out an open palm in A and a sword in B Scabbards and legs in A make oblique angles; in B they are parallel or near-parallel (they’re also moved so that figures in both A and B can draw their swords right-handed).… Continue Reading

About that frontispiece portrait of Hannah Woolley….

I was delighted by the range of responses we got for last week’s Crocodile post on the identity of the woman in the engraving: Catherine of Braganza, Cleopatra, Lady Frances Egerton, Elizabeth Nash nee Hall (Shakespeare’s grand-daughter), Hannah Woolley, and Sarah Gilly. The answer: None of the above, and some of the above. Sarah Gilly? Some surviving impressions of this portrait have the inscription “The Effigies of M:trs Sarah Gilly,” as does the one above. … Continue Reading

A “lost” drawing by Ellen Terry

Is it possible to lose something you never had? The other day I managed to “lose” a 1905 sketch of a theater interior by actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928). I had caught a glimpse of it when sorting through a small group of recently acquired letters, and was looking forward to having a closer look later. As far as I could tell in a glance, it was either a rough sketch looking out from the stage, like this 1768 engraving of the Amsterdam Schouwburg by Simon Fokke (1712-1784): …or it was a rough sketch looking towards the stage, like Simon Fokke’s companion engraving of the same theater: I didn’t want to interrupt my sorting, though, so anticipation about the mystery theater kept building.… Continue Reading