408 pp., 8 x 10
58 color illus., 150 b&w illus.
A volume in the series:
Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book
Creating a World on Paper
Harry Fenn's Career in Art
The first biography of a widely popular nineteenth-century illustrator
Harry Fenn was one of the most skilled and successful illustrators in the United States in the latter half of the nineteenth century, a time when illustrated periodicals and books were the primary means of sharing visual images. Fenn’s work fostered pride in America’s scenic landscapes and urban centers, informed a curious public about foreign lands, and promoted appreciation of printed pictures as artworks for a growing middle class.
Arriving in New York from London in 1857 as a young wood engraver, Fenn soon forged a career in illustration. His tiny black-and-white wood engravings for Whittier’s Snow-Bound (1868) surprised critics with their power, and his bold, innovative compositions for Picturesque America (1872–74) were enormously popular and expanded the field for illustrators and publishers. In the 1880s and ’90s, his illustrations appeared in many of the finest magazines and newspapers, depicting the places and events that interested the public—from post–Civil War national reconciliation to the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 to the beginnings of imperialism in the Spanish-American War.
This handsomely designed volume documents Fenn’s prolific career from the 1860s until his death in 1911. Sue Rainey also recounts his adventurous sketching trips in the western United States, Europe, and the Middle East, which enhanced his reputation for depicting far-flung places at a time when the nation was taking a more prominent role on the world stage.
"Clearly written and packed with new information. The author has mined a great variety of primary sources to excellent advantage."—Katherine Manthorne, author of Tropical Renaissance: North American Artists Exploring Latin America, 1839–1879
"Sue Rainey, whose magnificent study Picturesque America brought that indispensable pictorial achievement into the context of nineteenth-century American art, has now produced a comprehensive study of one of that publication's chief illustrators, Harry Fenn. Fenn was an artist whose name has appeared constantly to all of us involved with American nature and landscape, as well as the history of American watercolor painting, covering a good many decades of cultural enterprise. Fenn's significance is fully realized in this study. But more, Rainey has produced irrefutable proof that the knowledge of our leading illustrators--and illustration itself--is not a separate (and lesser) division within the arts of America, but needs, as here achieved, further integration into the full understanding of visual culture in the nineteenth century."—William H. Gerdts, Professor Emeritus of Art History, Graduate School of the City University of New York