“A MAJOR FIGURE IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN PRINT-MAKING”: TWO VOLUMES OF HARPER’S WEEKLY, 1873-74, CONTAINING SOME OF WINSLOW HOMER’S MOST FAMOUS WOOD-ENGRAVINGS
(HOMER, Winslow). Harper’s Weekly: A Journal of Civilization. Volumes XVII-XVIII. New York: Harper & Brothers, January 4, 1873-December 26, 1874. Two volumes. Large, thick folio (12 by 16 inches), contemporary three-quarter brown pebbled calf gilt, raised bands, marbles endpapers. $4500.
Complete two-year run of one of the great contemporary sources of American social history, containing over 1,500 woodengraved illustrations, including 22 of “country life” by Winslow Homer. Includes the famous double-page “Snap-the-Whip” and the “Glouster Harbor” series.
Begun in 1857, Harper’s Weekly remains one of the most valuable primary sources for understanding 19th-century American life. “Here is a vital illustrated history… The combination of pictures, politics, essays and fiction gives [Harper’s] first-rate importance” (Mott, 469). American artist Winslow Homer supported himself until he was close to 40 years old by providing illustrations to magazines, mostly to Harper’s Weekly, for which he documented the Civil War from the field. “Homer’s strength lay in graphic depiction, as it did, basically, all his life— not so much in the sense that his pictures always tell a story, but more in the sense that there is always something being done in them” (Grossman, 19). “After the war Homer in both paintings and illustrations devoted himself to the subject matter that meant most to him— country life. From boyhood he had loved the outdoor world, and this love would continue throughout his life… One half of Homer’s rural world was that of the summer resort, with women playing the leading roles… [revealing] a devotion to female comeliness and a keen eye for fashion… He can almost be said to have invented the American Girl. The other half of his rural world was that of the deep country and the old-fashioned Yankee farm… Children played a central part in these rustic scenes, pictured with complete sympathy but no trace of the mawkish sentimentality of the period. Homer had retained a boy’s sense of delight in the freedom of outdoor life, and his pictures of children exploring the pleasures of farm and seashore and mountains combine matter-of-fact realism with a lyrical sense of the early-morning freshness of childhood in the country” (Goodrich, 10-11). Among the more recognizable Homer illustrations in this set are “Snap-the-Whip” (September 20, 1873), “Glouster Harbor” (September 27, 1873), “Raid on a Sand-Swallow Colony” (June 13, 1874), “Gathering Berries” (June 11, 1874), and “Waiting for a Bite” (August 22, 1874). See Mott, 469-87; Goodrich 57-86; Beam 197-218. Bookplate of 19th-century Brooklyn politician James Tanner.
A complete run for these two major years, with 22 Homer prints, in fine condition.