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Daily Art Moment: Edward Penfield

In the 1890s, color posters advertising books, magazines, and newspapers exploded onto the scene. Initially inspired by French designs, American artists soon created their own unique style. Edward Penfield led the field with his charming posters advertising Harper’s Magazine beginning in 1893. These designs, generally about 19 by 14 inches, were displayed in book stores and kiosks to induce readers to pick up the latest copy of Harper’s. Soon other publishers followed suit, and cities were awash with these colorful and artistic placards. 

Recently we celebrated this artistic, commercial, and literary movement in the exhibition The Art of Reading: American Publishing Posters of the 1890s. Now, we are delighted to announce that collectors Daniel Bergsvik and husband Donald Hastler have donated 47 of these publishing posters to the Museum! These three examples, all by Penfield, were created for the special Christmas issue of the magazine.

LEFT: Edward Penfield (American, 1866-1925), Harper’s Christmas, 1895, color lithograph, sheet: 25 1/2 in × 20 1/4 in, Gift of Daniel Bergsvik and Donald Hastler. L2019.63.16

CENTER: Edward Penfield (American, 1866-1925), Harper’s Christmas, 1896, color lithograph, sheet: 17 5/16 in × 12 15/16 in, Gift of Daniel Bergsvik and Donald Hastler  L2019.63.17

RIGHT: Edward Penfield (American, 1866-1925), Harper’s Christmas, 1897, color lithograph, sheet: 18 7/8 x 13 1/16 in., Gift of Daniel Bergsvik and Donald Hastler, T2020.73.2