The Adirondack Museum

Blue Mountain Lake, NY

(518) 352-7311



Adirondack Prints and Printmakers: The Call of the Wild


Over the centuries people have been drawn to the Adirondack wilderness for many reasons: to explore, map, mine, and log it; to climb its mountains and absorb the beauty of its lakes and forests. Artists came early to the region, and in their paintings and prints conveyed impressions of the Adirondacks ranging from topographical notation to romantic reverence to the documentation of such human activities as lunibering, hunting, and boating. These images not only had aesthetic appeal, but they were also important vehicles of communication. In the absence of photographs, nineteenth-century paintings and engravings printed in popular journals of the time, or sold separately as prints, were a means of introducing the Adirondacks to the general public.

A new book, Adirondack Prints and Printmakers: The Call of the Wild, edited by Caroline Mastin Welsh, reveals the importance of prints and printmakers to the Adirondacks and their impact outside the region. Co-published by the Adirondack Museum and Syracuse University Press, the book is a collection of nine illustrated essays first presented at the jointly sponsored North American Print Conference held at the Adirondack Museum in August 1995. Museum curator Caroline M. Welsh examines etchings by diarist, physician, and summer resident Arpad G. Gerster in her paper, "A Passion for Fishing and Tramping'," and librarian Jerold Pepper illustrates early documentation of the wilderness by explorers who tirst mapped it in "When Men and Mountains Meet."

Other contributors include librarians, professors of art history, and print and graphic arts curators from around the northeast. Philip J. Weimerskirch compares two illustrated books about the Hudson River by William Guy Wall and Jacques Gerard Milbert; Georgia B. Batnhill, author of Wild Impressions, published by the Adirondack Museum in 1995, examines the many illustrations of the Adirondacks that appeared in the popular press in the nineteenth century.

Janice Simon shows how the Aldine, a leading art journal ofthe 1870s, publicized images and concepts about the American forest and wilderness areas like the Adirondacks. Nancy Finlay, Warder Cadbury, and David Tatham write about the work of individual artists: respectively, Sohn Henry Hill's Lake George etchings, Robert Wilke's jewel-like chromolithographs, and the Winslow Homer's Adirondack prints. Rosmarie L. Tovell examines the prints of David Milne, a Canadian-born artist who lived at Big Moose Lake and Lake Placid in the 1920s.

Handsomely produced, Adirondack Prints and Printmakers contains ninety-two black and white illustrations, many of them from the museum's collection of prints and drawings, and most of them half-page. Included are an introduction by Caroline Welsh, notes, bibliography, index and a list ofmeetings and publications of the North American Print Conference. Although this volume delineates the role of the Adirondacks in the history of prints and printmaking, it is not for scholars alone. For anyone who realizes the power of the printed image to evoke the wilderness and its inhabitants, this is a book to open.

Adirondack Prints and Printmakers may be purchased at the Adirondack Museum Shop and other stores. For more information, call the museum at (518) 352-7311 or visit it on the web at

Date of article: 7/18/98

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