ORIGINAL AUTOGRAPH SIGNED ARTHUR RACKHAM LETTER REGARDING THE PLAGIARISM OF HIS WORK BY AMERICAN ARTIST EDWARD TURNBULL, WITH ORIGINAL ENVELOPE HAND-ADDRESSED AND SIGNED BY RACKHAM AND VARIOUS LETTERS FROM CONCERNED PARTIES AND OTHER RELATED EPHEMERA
RACKHAM, Arthur. Autograph letter signed. Surrey, England, July 28, 1933. Single sheet, measuring 4-1/2 by 7 inches folded; pp. 4 (writing on first and last pages). With archive of related material. $2200.
Original lengthy autograph letter from Arthur Rackham, entirely written and signed by him, to a Mrs. Lloyd [Berrall] regarding the theft of his illustrations by American artist Edward Trumbull for a mural in New York's Metropolitan Life Building, with original hand-addressed signed envelope.
This autograph letter by Arthur Rackham was written in response to a letter from a Julia Smith Berrall (a.k.a. Mrs. James Lloyd Berrall) of Montclair, New Jersey. Berrall had written to Rackham to inform him that the new murals in New York City's Metropolitan Life Building by muralist Edward Trumbull were "exact copies of the figures in [his] illustrations of Rip Van Winkle and the Legend of Sleeph [sic] Hollow." She further inquired whether Rackham had given permission to Trumbull to use the images. Less than two weeks later—incredibly quickly for transatlantic mail—Rackham penned an outraged response. The letter, written from Rackham's home in "Stilegate, Limpsfield, Surrey, England" and dated "28.7.33," reads: "Dear Mrs. Lloyd, Many thanks for your letter. You are quite right in assuming that. I know nothing about Mr. Trumbull's theft of my designs—for it is nothing less. I will take steps to find out whether there is anything to be done about it. That whether Mr. Trumbull is on the safe side of the law or not (& one fears he may have taken steps to find out, before embarking) it is a strange mentality that allows one artist to lift the work of another without even the courtesy of an acknowledgement. I am indeed surprised that a man in such a position as Mr. Trumbull appears to be should so demean himself. One would think that any artist would feel it to be an outrage, which it certainly is. Yrs sincerely, Arthur Rackham. PS. The question of International Copyright is one that to my sorrow the United States will not agree with the rest of us about." Included with the letter to Mrs. Berrall are a copy of an article concerning the murals in the May 1933 issue of Pencil Points that showed pictures of the murals, but made no reference to Rackham; a copy of Berrall's letter to Rackham; a handwritten letter on Montclair Art Museum stationary which appears to be a draft of Berrall's letter to Publisher's Weekly inquiring about the plagiarism issue and inquiring as to whether Pencil Points was aware of Rackham's ownership of the mural images; a letter to Berrall from Publisher's Weekly confirming that Metropolitan Life was aware of the plagiarism and was attempting to come to a settlement with Rackham; a draft of an article by Jesse Mann of The Chatham Bookseller who acquired the Berrall/Rackham material and attempted to find out the ultimate disposition of Rackham's claim against Metropolitan Life; a copy of a letter from The Book Collector to Mann asking for additional information on the Met Life building; and Mann's finished article, published in The Book Collector in 1996.
Autograph signed letter and envelope fine. A fascinating and desirable collection of items.