Monday, October 11, 2010

John Tenniel's Civil War Cartoons

Editorial cartoons and satirical drawings by English artist John Tenniel, famed as the original illustrator of Lewis Carroll"s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, will be the subject of a talk given by Allan Kohl, MCAD's Visual Resources Librarian, at the October meeting of the St. Croix Valley Civil War Roundtable on Monday, October 25, at the Lowell Inn in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Tenniel's cartoons offer an unusual look at the events and personalities of the Civil War from a European perspective.  As the principal cartoonist for the venerable British periodical Punch, Tenniel reflected the political views of that periodical's Tory (Conservative) readership.  These views are evident in his pro-Southern spin on events, and especially in his viciously negative portrayals of the American President, Abraham Lincoln. 

Kohl is particularly interested in the interaction of “high art” and popular visual culture –- including materials such as theatrical posters, political cartoons, sheet music covers, currency, and even advertising -- during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of the illustrators and designers who created these early examples of “mass publications” began their careers as traditionally-trained artists, and freely appropriated compositions, figure poses, and gestures from “high art” sources such as classical statuary, or narrative and genre paintings.  Kohl’s three-year study of Tenniel’s cartoons commenting on the Civil war resulted in his web publication John Tenniel and the American Civil War:  Political Cartoons from Punch, 1860-1865.  

The St. Croix Valley Civil War Roundtable meets on the fourth Monday of each month at the historic Lowell Inn, located at 102 N. 2nd St. in Stillwater, MN.  Social hour is at 5:00 PM, with dinner at 6:00 PM and program at 7:00 PM.

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