Creating a World on Paper: Harry Fenn's Career in Art

Creating a World on Paper: Harry Fenn's Career in Art

by Sue Rainey


Usually ships within 1 week


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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781558499799
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date: 02/28/2013
Series: Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 408
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Sue Rainey is the author of Creating “Picturesque America” (1994), which won the Charles C. Eldredge Prize (Smithsonian) and the Ewell L. Newman Award. Rainey has served as editor of Imprint: Journal of the American Historical Print Collector's Society. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Table of Contents

Preface... ix

1. Early Life in England and New York... 12. Gaining Recognition as an Illustrator and Watercolor Painter... 233. Poetry and Picturesque America... 494. Years Abroad — Picturesque Europe and Picturesque Palestine... 1075. New Clients, New Technologies, and a New Home — The 1880s... 1596. Challenges and Triumphs — The 1890s and Beyond... 2177. Continuity and Change — 1900—1911, and an Assessment... 281

Appendix 1. Additional Illustrations by Harry Fenn... 309Appendix 2. Harry Fenn's Works Included in Exhibitions... 325Notes... 331Index... 381

What People are Saying About This

James F. O'Gorman

This is an exhaustively researched, fully documented, clearly organized, and well written study of the life and work of the artist/illustrator Harry Fenn, embedded into the history of the times in which he lived.

Katherine Manthorne

Clearly written and packed with new information. The author has mined a great variety of primary sources to excellent advantage.

William H. Gerdts

Sue Rainey, whose magnificent study of 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews