Sunday, July 14, 2013

Artist - Bonte: Marie Louise Quarles and George Willard Bonte

I'm Yo' Valentine

6 3/4" x 4 1/2"
circa 1890s - 1910s
Standing Flat with 3-D Feature
moving eyes are suspended on string
Signed Bonte
printed by Ernest Nister
E P Dutton and Co.
Printed in Bavaria
marked: No. 1889

It is unusual for one of the cards published by Nister to retain the artists mark as this card does. Nister was a lithographer based in Nuremburg, Germany with offices also in London, England. E. P. Dutton was the exclusive agent for Nister in the USA.

Marie Louise Quarles Bonte and George Willard Bonte are probably best known for their book ABC in Dixie - A Plantation Alphabet, published in 1904 by Ernest Nister. Book News - An Illustrated Magazine of Literature and Books, Vol 23, September 1904 - August 1905 (p 236) described it as "An alphabet of exaggerated negro pictures in garish color, printed in Germany, giving closely the German view of negro aspect." Nister produced a postcard series based on the book. Be careful in purchasing those as there is a reproduction of the series as well as the Nister originals. The book is quite difficult to find completely intact. Its scarcity and shocking nature to today's sensibilities make any full copies something of great interest and therefore of some value, to a variety of collectors.  The Nister card shown above features a character quite similar to those seen in this particular book.

George also did a 1905 calendar (another work published by Nister) called The Coon Calendar for 1905. In an ad for Dutton's calendars in The Churchman, Volume 90 of Dec 3rd, 1904 The Coon Calendar is described as:  "Thirteen pages of humorous negro types by Willard Bonte. One of the best and most humorous ideas of the year.

Willard Bonte did other solo work including 1904's Fun and Nonsense, which featured anthropomorphic characters. He is credited with both the illustrations and the writing for it. He did other such personified characters for Raphael Tuck. An image from his book Sandman Rhymes (also from 1904 - quite an industrious year for Bonte) makes an appearance in Tuck's Coupling Pin post card series from the 1920s.  

Bonte was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on May 16th, 1873. By 1899, he was an artist on the staff of Outing Magazine. He was by this time living in New York, New York. Bonte dabbled in political cartooning, including an image with poem in the Lexington Herald of May 1916, regarding German U-boats in support of the US entering WWI. Much of his time was undoubtedly consumed by his role as Art Director of the New York Herald from 1906 - 1920. He died March 3, 1946 after seeing the world emerge from yet another massive war.

 To Greet me Valentine

4 7/8" x 3 1/8"
circa 1900s - 1910s
Flat with Easel Stand
Signed  'B' 
printed by Raphael Tuck
Artist Series
Marked: Publishers to Their Majesties

I have not yet confirmed that this is by Bonte, but strongly suspect that it is. 



American Ancestry: Giving Name and Descent in the Male line of Americans whose Ancestors Settled in the United States Previous to the Declaration of Independence, AD 1776, Vol 12 (1899), edited by Thomas Patrick Hughes, et al
Taking the Town: Collegiate and Community Culture in the Bluegrass, 1880-1917, by Kolan Thomas Morelock

1 comment:

  1. The book by the Bonte's lists a Louise Quarles Bonte rather than Marie. Always been wondering who wrote the ditties and who did the pictures of the plantation characters. Also this is first source of when ABC in Dixie was published. Thanks that helps, also thought it was a British production because of all the stereotypes included, the watermelon was absent. Now I see George was an American artist so how come no watermelons???