Gems of Art on Paper, book cover

“Gems of Art on Paper:
American Literary Illustration”

by Georgia Barnhill

Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 7:00 PM EDT

Cosponsored by the Center for Historic American Visual Culture (CHAViC) and the Program in the History of the Book in American Culture (PHBAC)


Approx. 60 minutes

This online event is free, but registration is required.
You will be sent an email with a link and instructions on how to join the event upon registration.

In this program, Georgia Barnhill, an expert on the visual culture of this period, will discuss her new book, Gems of Art on Paper: Illustrated American Fiction and Poetry, 1785–1885, which explains some of the costs and risks that book publishers faced as they brought about the transition from a sparse visual culture at the end of the eighteenth century to a rich one a century later. Establishing new practices and investing in new technologies to enhance works of fiction and poetry, bookmakers worked closely with skilled draftsmen, engravers, and printers to reach an increasingly literate and discriminating American middle class. Barnhill argues that while scholars have largely overlooked the efforts of early American illustrators, the works of art that they produced impacted readers’ understandings of the texts they encountered, and greatly enriched the nation’s cultural life.

Georgia Barnhill studied art history at Wellesley College (B. A., 1966) and was the Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts at the American Antiquarian Society for more than forty years, retiring in 2012 as the director of the Society’s Center for Historical American Visual Culture (CHAViC). Her publications include numerous articles on ephemera, prints, and book illustrations. Among her publications are the Bibliography on American Prints of the Seventeenth through Nineteenth Centuries, Wild Impressions: The Adirondacks on Paper, and Drawn from Nature & on Stone: The Lithographs of Fitz Henry Lane. She has edited conference volumes issued by AAS and by the Colonial Society of Massachusetts. She has been active in the Print Council of America, the American Historical Print Collectors Society, and the Ephemera Society of America, among others.

To get 30% off a copy of Gems of Art on Paper: Illustrated American Fiction and Poetry, 1785–1885, order directly from the UMass Press website and use the code MAS032.

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