Story posted February 08, 2007
Acclaimed wood engraver Siri Beckman has created the illustration for a broadside to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Beckman's illustration derives from early portraits of Longfellow and an 1822 oil painting, Bowdoin Campus by John Brown, depicting College buildings as they appeared when Longfellow was a student from 1821 to 1825.
While at Bowdoin, Longfellow "chummed" with his brother Stephen in room 27 on the third floor of newly constructed Winthrop Hall. He wrote to his sister in 1823 that their windows "afford a delightful prospect — the charm of an extensive woodland of pine trees." (Today, a plaque is installed on the exterior of Winthrop under what was Longfellow's window.)
The campus depicted in the broadside is historically accurate, showing Massachusetts Hall with its belfry cupola (removed years ago), the College chapel and library, also with belfry cupola, Winthrop Hall, and Maine Hall. The appearance of the College quadrangle may have changed since 1825, but the relevance of Longfellow's words remains undiminished to this day.
The broadside features lines from "Morituri Salutamus," a major poem written to mark the 50th reunion of Longfellow's graduating class, and read by him at First Parish Church in Brunswick in 1875.
"How beautiful is youth! How bright it gleams
With its illusions, aspirations, dreams!
Book of beginnings, Story without End,
Each maid a heroine, and each man a friend!"
The broadside has been designed and hand printed by David Wall at The Applecart Press. Some printers refer to the letter press process as "kissing the paper" because the ink is literally pressed into the paper in a series of hand feeds — one for each color ink. Because it is labor intensive, letterpress is now considered to be an art form of printing.
Artist Suri Beckman is well known throughout New England for her wood engravings. Her work is in the collection of the Portland Museum of Art. She lives on Deer Isle and is proprietor of Out of the Woods Press.
The 11" x 14" broadside, suitable for framing, is offered in two editions: a signed and numbered edition limited to 50 prints is available for $50, and a limited edition of unsigned prints will be available at $10. The broadside will be sold to benefit Longfellow Days exclusively at Bayview Gallery, 58 Maine Street, 729-5500, for a limited time only (from February 19 through April 14, 2007).
A very small quantity of prior-year broadsides by The Applecart Press will also be available at Bayview, as well. The 2005 broadside features lines from "Hiawatha" and an illustration by Dahlov Ipcar. The 2006 broadside is graced by a Bryce Muir ink and water color illustration beside lines from "Evangeline."
Longfellow Days is a program of the Brunswick Downtown Association and Bowdoin College, and is supported by the Senter Fund, the Davis Fund, and the Association of Bowdoin Friends.
Story submitted by the Longfellow Days Committee.