Saturday, November 19, 2016

Peter Arno: Once a Year~The Mid

The stag at eve had drunk his fill,
Where danced the moon on Monan’s rill,
And deep his midnight lair had made
In lone Glenartney’s hazel shade;
But, when the sun his beacon red
Had kindled on Benvoirlich’s head,
The deep-mouthed bloodhound’s heavy bay
Resounded up the rocky way,
And faint, from farther distance borne,
Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.
—Sir Walter Scott, The Lady of the Lake, Canto 1

These lines by Sir Walter Scott were at one time part and parcel of a good education. Peter Arno, back when he was still known as Curtis Arnoux Peters, Jr., was familiar with them when he attended the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. At age 17 in 1921, he created a full page, six-panel illustration for a school publication, possibly The Mischianza, the school's yearbook. Entitled Once a Year~The Mid (short for the midterm dance), Arno shows off his budding command of illustration and his—shall we call it sophomoric?—sense of humor. Thus the panel titled "The stag at eve had drunk his fill, etc." is set at the punch bowl table. "The last belle for breakfast" is a verbal and visual pun on the school breakfast bell. "Divine Services," has the two sexes distractedly eying each other in chapel, a focus that would serve Arno well for his entire cartooning career.

It's a nice energetic piece reminiscent of the mainstream illustration of the time. It's still a work of juvenilia though and probably shouldn't be offered at a price commensurate with that of the artist's later classic New Yorker work.

Peter Arno, Once a Year~The Mid, 1921

AbeBooks Listing as of November 19, 2016
Item Description

Peter Arno, Once a Year~The Mid, 1921

Note:  This artwork is reproduced in Michael Maslin's biography Peter Arno: The Mad, Mad World of The New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist, New York: Regan Arts, 2016, p. 13.

Speaking of Michael Maslin, he was kind enough to mention my post "Peter Arno: Wedding Belle" on the Ink Spill blog.

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