Edward Penfield - Harper's February, Art Nouveau poster
Local Accession Number: 2012.AAP.226.Title: Harper's February.Creator/Contributor: Penfield, Edward, 1866-1925 (artist).Date issued: 1895 (inferred).Physical description: 1 print (poster) : lithograph, color ; 47 x 32 cm..Summary: A man mails a letter while a woman stands behind him. .Genre: Book & magazine posters; Lithographs.Subjects: Women; Men; Mailboxes.Notes: .Date note: Date from: American Art Posters of the 1890s in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Including the Leonard A. Lauder Collection..Collection: American Art Posters 1890-1920.Location: Boston Public Library, Print Department.Rights: No known restrictions.
Posters spread rapidly in Europe and America. Poster exhibitions were staged in Britain and Italy (1894), Germany and Switzerland (1896) and in Russia (1897). National styles established themselves soon. The leading American poster designers were William Bradley and Edward Penfield, famous for his illustration and advertising placards for Harper's New Monthly Magazine. William H. Bradley - known as the "American Beardsley" - made his reputation from poster design. Famous for producing The Twins (1894), the first American Art Nouveau poster, Bradley's style blended features of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Japanese block printing and Art Nouveau.
Born in 1866, Edward Penfield attended the Art Students League in New York where his work was discovered by an associate editor of Harper’s Magazine. Penfield introduced avant-garde to the American public. His art nouveau poster for Harper's downplayed the dramatic curving lines of the European version and emphasized flat areas similar to aesthetics of Japanese prints and the work of the Post-Impressionists, especially Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. After Harper’s, Penfield continued his commercial work for other publications including Collier’s, Life, Ladies’ Home Journal, The Saturday Evening Post, and Scribner’s. His artwork includes the murals at Harvard University and the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. In 1916, he began teaching at the Art Students League, and, by 1921, he was the most influential member of the Society of Illustrators in New York. Penfield died in 1925.
Harper & Brothers began publication of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in 1850. It was renamed Harper’s Monthly Magazine in the 1900 Christmas issue. Edward Penfield served the Harpers as staff illustrator, editor, and art director from 1890 to 1901. Penfield created his first lithograph for Harper’s Magazine in 1893. He made posters advertising each successive issue of the magazine for over seven years. Penfield also created advertisements and cover designs for books published by Harper and Brothers.