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November 17, 2008
Mazie Harris to Discuss Civil War Era Chromolithographs By Henry Louis Stephens at Library of Congress, Dec. 8
Swann Foundation grantee Mazie Harris, in a lecture at the Library of Congress, will discuss the Civil War Era chromolithographs by Henry Louis Stephens, the primary illustrator for the satirical New York journal Vanity Fair.
Harris will present the lecture, "A Colorful Union: The Development of Union Patriotism in Henry Louis Stephens’ 1863 Chromolithographs," at noon on Monday, Dec. 8, in Dining Room A on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, DC.
In her illustrated talk, Harris will describe her research on the work of Stephens (1824-1882), a caricaturist as well as illustrator. She will draw on examples of his imagery from works held in the Library’s Marian S. Carson Collection and other source material in the Prints and Photographs Division.
The Emancipation Proclamation compelled Stephens to reconsider his previously virulently anti-abolitionist propaganda, according to Harris. In her talk, she will contend that after Abraham Lincoln’s groundbreaking executive orders in 1862 and 1863, Stephens deployed color printing and caricature in an attempt to reformulate views of race relations in the North and mobilize military enlistment.
Harris will analyze Stephens’ visual narratives by considering hand-written directions to the printer that the illustrator scrawled on the margins of each sketch for the series. These technical notes on color, which could be regarded simply as artistic instructions, when carefully examined and assessed, make explicit the particular political ideology of the prints.
Harris is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Brown University. She completed an M.A. in art history from Boston University, and became interested in the work of Henry Louis Stephens while working as a curatorial assistant in the Agnes Mongan Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings and Photographs in Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum.
This presentation is part of continuing activities of the Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon to support the study, interpretation, preservation and appreciation of original works of humorous and satiric art by graphic artists from around the world. The foundation is overseen by an advisory board composed of scholars, collectors, cartoonists and Library of Congress staff members.
The foundation strives to award one fellowship annually (with a stipend of up to $15,000) to assist scholarly research and writing projects in the field of caricature and cartoon. For 2008-2009, because of an unusually large number of strong applications, the foundation’s advisory board chose to support five applicants with smaller awards instead of selecting a single recipient of the fellowship.
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