Monday, January 27, 2020

My Entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #695

Please accept without reservation my entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #695 for January 27, 2020. The drawing is by Elisabeth McNair.
"We don't have any toastmasters' meeting."

Note:  In last week's Caption Contest, cartoonist P. C. Vey
 saw to it that the snow was shoveled with musical accompaniment. My caption was out of tune. Clear a path to Contest #694.

This is the first appearance on this blog of cartoonist Elisabeth McNair.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Mischa Richter: Taming of the Shrew Scarf for Richard Farrar

I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;If wealthily, then happily in Padua.
The Taming of the Shrew, Act I, scene ii

As we have seen, New Yorker artists Charles Addams, Helen E. Hokinson, Anatol Kovarsky, and Otto Soglow were enlisted by Richard Farrar to design scarves for his label in the 1940s and 1950s. Addams's design incorporated characters from his namesake Family before it was so named. Hokinson's design has not yet made it to the internet, apparently. Kovarsky and Soglow each contributed two designs that we know of. And now, via eBay, we have a standard small silk scarf, 17 x 16.5 inches, in green, black, and white by cartoonist Mischa Richter. The title is Taming  of the Shrew after the popular Shakespeare play. It has a central title area with signature that incorrectly depicts the Tower of Pisa—not in Padua—along with a cherub and a lute. Four corners have vignettes from the play and there is a surrounding border showing phases of the moon.

Mischa Richter
Taming of the Shrew scarf design in green, black, and white for Richard Farrar

The Leaning Tower of...Padua?
Taming of the Shrew copyright Richter

Music appreciation:  Katherine and Hortensio's encounter

It is actually not at all Shakespearean for Petruchio to use a whip on Katherine. The stage practice comes from David Garrick's 1754 performing version Catharine and Petruchio.

Petruchio and Katherine off early on their honeymoon even before the wedding feast

Happily ever after

Richard A. Farrar tag

Saks Fifth Avenue tag

Detail of moon border

Copyright and signature

Mischa Richter
eBay Listing Accessed January 7, 2020

Mischa Richter
eBay Item Description Accessed January 7, 2020
Sold for a Best offer of $30

Note:  My sincere thanks to Joel Jacobus, specialist in Charles Addams memorabilia, who alerted me earlier this month to the eBay listing for this scarf when it showed up out of the blue.

The story of these Richard Farrar scarves designed by New Yorker cartoonists remains incomplete. Readers with new information about them should get in touch. Other scarf designs and color combinations are sought after here as well.

This blog can always use further examples of original art as well as published rarities by Mischa Richter.


Saturday, January 25, 2020

Michael Knudsen's Paper Napkin Drawing by Saul Steinberg

Today David from Manhattan contributes images of a paper restaurant napkin drawn upon by none other than Saul Steinberg (1914-1999). David has spent some considerable time and effort researching this napkin and now he reports his findings to us here. He writes:
This pen and brown ink profile, on a 13 ¼ x10 inch brown napkin, dated April 1946, turned up in late 2010 on eBay, accompanied by a first edition of All In Line, which had come out the year before the drawing.
Saul Steinberg
Napkin inscribed "FOR MIKE with LOVE/ST./April 46"

Detail  of a woman in profile
from All in Line (1945)

As the successful buyer, I found out from the seller that it had been part of the estate of Michael B. Knudsen (1911-2010) of Kendall Park, N.J., and was sold, per the instructions of his widow, Sabrina Beaver Knudsen, at a local auction that same year. An on-line obituary included a heartfelt note from Annelise Fjeld Knutsen (correct spelling—not my typo) of Norway, calling Michael “The great American novel in person,” and who answered a letter I sent her. She had no information on the Steinberg drawing or MK’s friendship with the artist, but she had this to say about her father’s second cousin: “Mike was larger than life. He was a painter (he told me that one of his paintings was in a museum in Athens, Ga.), he was an actor (a friend of Henry Fonda, babysitting Jane and Peter), he wrote screenplays (none of them turned into films/plays), he produced men’s cologne…BUT he had sort of a restless, joyful way of living that prevented him from holding focus on one thing. He described himself as a ‘Jack of all trades and master of none.’” A little on-line searching confirmed much of this. In the inventory of the Georgia Museum of Art there is an undated Gouache Abstract by Knudsen (and incorrectly calling him Swedish) which according to curator Sarah Kate Gillespie, was a 1948 gift of Hazel Guggenheim McKinley, a friend of the museum’s founder, Alfred Holbrook, and also Peggy Guggenheim’s sister and Michael’s long-time lover (this last tidbit comes from Ms. Knutsen, not Sarah Kate).

Michael Knudsen's Gouache Abstract in the collection of the Georgia Museum of Art

"Image not available"

Mr. Knudsen also had uncredited parts in two Robert Walker films: "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" (1944) and "The Clock" (1945). In 1957 he created a cologne for men, Gravel, which is no longer made, but still has a serious following, not to mention a flattering website, “Gravel A Man’s Cologne” that features numerous photos of Michael and the story of his “vibrant classic,” which included actual gravel at the bottom of each bottle. I also found a copyrighted booklet, Interlocking rug sections and padding for do-it-yourself wall-to-wall carpeting, also from 1957, and most likely not screenplay material.

The year Steinberg made his drawing is also of interest. According to the Chronology at the back of Joel Smith’s Saul Steinberg: Illuminations (2006), Steinberg belonged “to a regular crowd of artists, designers, writers, and architects who socialize at Del Pezzo, a midtown Manhattan restaurant.” From June ‘46 on, he left New York and traveled widely. Del Pezzo is not mentioned again. If I ever have an opportunity to examine Steinberg’s appointment book from that period at Yale, I might discover if Steinberg had dinner with “Mike” one night in April, or if it was merely an unplanned encounter. At least one photo of Hazel Guggenheim I located is reminiscent of the woman on the napkin, which raises the question of whether Knudsen was by himself that evening at Del Pezzo.
Hazel Guggenheim
Detail of profile

Michael Knudsen and Hazel Guggenheim

Michael Knudsen
Work on paper

How much longer Michael Knudsen’s art career lasted, I have no idea, but examples of his work turn up from time to time on eBay, and were probably part of the same 2010 New Jersey auction that sold the napkin (including two pieces currently offered by a seller from Scotch Plains). I suspect that Knudsen’s friendship with Steinberg, despite the warmth of the inscription, was not long term; the Steinberg Foundation has no information on him.
Detail of napkin inscription

Saul Steinberg's signature on a brown paper napkin

Saul Steinberg
"Pencil Sketch"
eBay Listing Ended December 7, 2010

Note:  My sincere thanks to David from Manhattan for contributing the photographs in today's post and contextualizing them with all his research. This is David's thirty-fifth contribution to the blog for those who like to keep score at home.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Ronald Searle: Memory Lane and Nobody Wants Me

Two 1977 lithographs by Ronald Searle serve as meditations on love and loneliness. Using cats to express human emotion, Memory Lane presents an old-fashioned vision of impossibly romantic love. The ornate frame consigns the image to some remote and idealized past.
Ronald Searle
Memory Lane
Edition of 99, 1977

Nobody Wants Me is every bit as stark as Memory Lane is lush. It shows the opposite side of the romantic coin: desolation. Yet despite the psychological torment that permeates this setting, there remains one bit of decoration, one ray of hope: it is the framed print of Memory Lane on the wall.
Ronald Searle
Nobody Wants Me
Edition of 99, 1977


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Ronald Searle: Nobody Loves Me

Ronald Searle's 1974 lithograph Nobody Loves Me is surely one of his signature lithographic images. It depicts a lonely and isolated cat high up on a precarious perch. It was first collected in More Cats (1975).
Ronald Searle
Nobody Loves Me
Edition of 99, 1974

In 2005, Searle published The Predatory Bite of the Steel Nib in a limited edition of 296 copies. One of his sketchbook drawings reproduced there reveals something of the germination of the lithograph. In this early iteration of the image the unbalanced column is fully recognizable. The plain is not empty but filled with dogs and the cat is not cowering in solitude but delivering a fiery oration to the assembly. Searle plays with two written titles:  Top Dog and La Gloire [Glory].
Ronald Searle
Top Dog/la gloire
The Predatory Bite of the Steel Nib:  The Scrapbook Drawings of Ronald Searle

Predatory Parrot Press, 2005 


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #59

Three angels up in heaven are seen smoking and drinking in the Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #59. But are they angels? They don't have wings or halos. Perhaps that should have informed my approach, but it didn't. My three entries—and a couple more—are below.The drawing is by Drew Panckeri.
"Here comes Mr. High and Mighty."
"Did you know they have a vice squad?"
"I guess I was expecting something more."
"Hey! Why don't we get any ambrosia?"
"These vices are no fun without sex."

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Robin and Al's Copy of Art Linkletter's Kids Sure Rite Funny!

Art Linkletter (1912-2010) was a television personality and the compiler of the well-known Kids Say the Darndest Things! (1957). He was also the author-editor of other such compilations, including Kids Sure Rite Funny!: A Child's Garden of Misinformation (1962). Tom Bloom shares a copy of this latter book with us that is inscribed by illustrator Whitney Darrow, Jr. (1909-1999), with a sketch made in the year of publication. It is signed also by the author some forty-one years later with an enthusiastic "Me, too!!"
Kids Sure Rite Funny!: A Child's Garden of Misinformation (1962)
Compiled by Art Linkletter
Illustrated by Whitney Darrow, Jr.

Photograph by Tom Bloom

Inscribed by Whitney Darrow, Jr., "For Robin/& Al/from Whitney/Dec. 2-1962"
 with a sketch of a boy riting funny.
Inscribed with a heart "Me, too!!/Art Linkletter/ 5/5/03"
 in Kids Sure Rite Funny!: A Child's Garden of Misinformation
Photograph by Tom Bloom

Note:  My thanks once again to Tom Bloom for contributing these photographs of this uniquely twice-signed book. This is Tom's ninth contribution to the blog.

To me, this doubly-signed book recalls Frank Crowninshield's copy of The Prince of Wales and Other Famous Americans which bears two self-portraits by Miguel Covarrubias drawn eighteen years apart. Read all about it here. 

Other books uniquely signed, inscribed, drawn upon, or otherwise embellished by New Yorker personalities are eagerly sought after for inclusion on this blog. Please have your cameras and scanners at the ready.


Monday, January 20, 2020

My Entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #694

Sing, Muse, of my entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #694 for January 20, 2020. The drawing is by P. C. Vey.
         "When he wasn't at the office
         He kept all the sidewalk clear.
         He relied upon a shovel
         And his trusty balladeer."

January 27, 2020 Update:  The Finalists

Note:  In last week's Caption Contest, cartoonist Mark Thompson
 invented a jet pack suitable for a mouse in a maze. My caption was not nearly so innovative. See if you can find your way all the way through Contest #693.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Alice and John McClelland's Copy of Charles Saxon's "Honesty is One of the Better Policies"

In 1984 artist Alice McClelland (1921-2009) and her husband illustrator John H. McClelland (1919-2016) were given a personalized copy of New Yorker cartoonist Charles Saxon's new collection "Honesty is One of the Better Policies": Saxon's World of Business. Saxon signed and inscribed their copy and included an atmospheric sketch of the couple standing upright in a boat in "one of those Spanish moss Indian islands down south." The gift inscription seems to be a heartfelt parting gesture to the McClellands as they relocated to the Savannah, Georgia area.
Charles Saxon
"Honesty is One of the Better Policies":  Saxon's World of Business
New York:  The Viking Press, 1984

Back cover

Inscribed "For Alice and John [McClelland]
leaving for one of those
Spanish moss indian
islands down south
and leaving us bereft.
Much love to
you both.

Copyright page

Chuck Saxon's signature

Charles Saxon
eBay Listing Ended February 10, 2019

Charles Saxon
eBay Item Description

Best offer of $40 accepted

  This is the first time anywhere I've seen a book  with an original sketch by Charles Saxon (1920-1988)
. There simply have to be more examples in circulation somewhere. Readers with access to any such book embellished with an original Saxon drawing should send scans or photos this way for potential inclusion in a future blog post. 


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Dotsy and Eddie's Copy of Cat-Calls by Peggy Bacon

A rare copy of Cat-Calls (1935) by Peggy Bacon (1895-1987) seems just the thing to contemplate during the flu season. The book bears a full-page original drawing of a child's sickbed complete with inscription and signature. There is even a playful cat beneath the bed among the slippers. Illustrator Tom Bloom, who has provided us with scans, reports also a tiny ink test squiggle on the front flap which is not shown here. The publication date of 1935 dates this drawing perhaps to the New Year of 1936 or later. 
Peggy Bacon
Cat-Calls (1935)

Scan by Tom Bloom

Peggy Bacon
Inscribed "Happy New Year with Cold—
(Specially for Dotsy & Eddie—Peggy Bacon—)"
 In Cat-Calls
Scan by Tom Bloom

Note:  My thanks to Tom Bloom for contributing these wonderful scans. This is Tom's eighth contribution to Attempted Bloggery. Go ahead, check my math.

Peggy Bacon was a New Yorker cartoonist and poet as well as a major book illustrator. This is the first original book drawing of hers I've seen. I hope it will not be the last. Readers with original works by Peggy Bacon in their collections are encouraged to forward images to this blog to promote greater appreciation of her achievement.