Creating a World on Paper
Harry Fenn's Career in Art
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Table of Contents
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...to when I realized that many of the most attractive nineteenth-century prints of American scenery and cities offered in print shops were his compositions, often taken from disbound copies of the two-volume Picturesque America. The luminos-ity of that bookâs steel engravings and the variety and charm of its wood engravings intrigued me. I decided to examine how these images were made and their impact ...
1. Early Life in England and New York
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H arry Fenn was a conspicuous presence in the world of American art in the latter half of the nineteenth century. In this period before photographs could be printed on the same page as type, a wide public looked to him and his colleagues for depictions of scenery, cities, and social and political life reproduced in periodicals and books. Fennâs dynamic and appealing compositions set a high standard. They built pride in Americaâs scenic landscapes and urban centers, ...
2. Gaining Recognition as an Illustrator and Watercolor Painter
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F enn was able to fulfill his intention to abandon wood engraving and establish himself as a sought-after illus-trator in the last years of the Civil War and the period imme-diately after. At this time, many Americans endeavored to find solace for their grief, honor the lost, lay animosities to rest, and focus attention on the reunited nation and its outstanding scenery, improved urban amenities, and abundant natural resources. They desired pictures of these subjects and expected to find ...
3. Poetry and Picturesque America
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F enn continued to devote most of his time to preparing designs for illustrations, a surer means of support-ing his growing family than completing paintings that might or might not sell. His projects in the late 1860s and early 1870s, commissioned by various publishers, ranged from one page for a periodical to hundreds of images for a book so successful that it gave rise to a series of large-scale illustrated books offered by subscription. In a few years, his approach evolved from highly conven-...
4. Years Abroad—Picturesque Europe and Picturesque Palestine
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F rom 1873 to 1881 Fenn lived abroad and traveled as the quintessential artist in search of the picturesque. Soon after Appleton began publishing Picturesque America in parts in mid-1872, it became clear that the bookâs combination of text and images was a winning formula. In fact, it was so successful that the firm involved Fenn in two suc-cessorsâPicturesque Europe and Picturesque Palestine, Sinai and Egyptâproduced in an identical format and using the same printing technologies. With their expen-...
5. New Clients, New Technologies, and a New Home—The 1880s
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A s Fenn worked to complete his illustrations for Picturesque Palestine and his daughter Hilda neared her first birthday, the family returned to the United States. Althougha second transatlantic move must have been difficult and their loyalties divided between England and America, Fenn apparently anticipated many commissions and wished to establish a permanent home where he could spend most of his time. By late September 1881, the family was settled with Mary Fennâs parents ...
6. Challenges and Triumphs—The 1890s and Beyond
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A s the end of the nineteenth centuryapproached, the United States was greatly changed since Fennâs arrival in 1857. It was now one of the most prosper-ous and powerful nations on earth. Its population of more than seventy million, which stretched from coast to coast, was in closer contact than ever before thanks to the railroads, the telegraph, and the telephone. Experiments with a new mode of transportation, the automobile, were also under way. Cities located on rail-...
7. Continuity and Change—1900–1911, and an Assessment
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T he last decade of Harry Fennâs life coincided with the first decade of the twentieth century, with its accelerated pace of innovation and growth in communications, transportation, and industry. Fashions in the art world and in illustrated publications continued to change in ways that positioned Fenn among the more conventional rather than the more innovative. As the technology for making and reproducing photographs improved, the need for artists to accurately ...
Appendix 1: Additional Illustrations by Harry Fenn
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Appendix 2: Harry Fenn’s Works Included in Exhibitions
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About the Author, Back Cover
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Page Count: 516
Illustrations: 43 color illus., 150 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book