Daily Art Moment: Edward Penfield

Image description: Harper’s June 1895, Edward Penfield, color lithograph, 18 ¾ x 12 13/16 inches. A portrait-oriented poster showing a male figure dressed in a black graduation cap and gown, holding a book while smoking a pipe under the tomato red words: “Harper’s June”. “Harper’s” is stretched across the top of the print and the word “June” sits under it to the left on the pale tan background. The figure is shown from the knee up at right. He is turned to the left, has peach-colored skin and yellow, short hair under his mortar board. He smokes a small brown pipe and holds up an orange book as if reading. A white shirt, black tie and blue vest are seen under the robe. He holds a tan rectangular object in his left hand by his side. The lower left holds five large rose blossoms on long, pale green stems with leaves. One flower overlaps the figure’s black gown. The artist’s signature appears in orange at left of the roses.
Edward Penfield (American, 1866–1925), Harper’s June, 1895. Color lithograph. Gift of Daniel Bergsvik and Donald Hastler, 2020.42.31

Congratulations to the Class of 2021! This charming poster, advertising the June edition of Harper’s Magazine, gives a nod to the graduates of 1895. Artist Edward Penfield is credited with inventing the American publishing poster, a boom that thrived in the 1890s. Each month, Penfield created a lithograph to promote the magazine. He drew on seasonal events to indicate the month, here adding a profusion of blooming roses to accompany the young man in cap and gown. As a way to indicate the graduate’s erudition and good taste, Penfield’s scholar studiously studies a copy of Harper’s Magazine.

Mary Weaver Chapin, Curator of Prints and Drawings

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