News and Exhibits

Black Americans in the U.S. Congress

Afro-Americans in Congress print

Hiram Revels was the first Black American elected to the United States Congress, serving as a senator from Mississippi between February 1870 and March 1871. Staunch and serious, he shares in this commemorative print held by the Chapin Library the honor of largest and most central portrait with Blanche… Continue reading »

Doctor Syntax on Tour

The Cellar Quartetto, lithograph by Thomas Rowlandson

One of the 19th century’s most indelible caricatures — a hilariously unrelenting image of haplessness and blissful ignorance — was made after a man largely undeserving of such unfortunate remembrance. Warranted or not, though, the English reverend William Gilpin got thoroughly roasted by William Combe and Thomas Rowlandson in their… Continue reading »

Clare Leighton’s Garden Path

Clare Leighton wood engraving Blackbird on Nest ca. 1934

In the early 1930s, the celebrated wood-engraver Clare Leighton bought a patch of unpromising land in the Chilterns, a picturesque escarpment in the English countryside. Along with her partner Noel Brailsford, who like Leighton had little gardening experience, she cultivated her enclosure painstakingly and largely by trial and error. Continue reading »

Transcribe-a-thon 2021

Transcribe-a-thon poster

Join us on Monday, February 15 for the second annual Williams Transcribe-a-Thon! Drop in between 3pm and 6pm EST to help us make our historical collections more accessible online. Please sign up to receive the Zoom invite. Continue reading »

Death Reigns

Death Reigns woodcut by Kathryn Louise Gerlach

In his excellent 1983 article on the history of American funerary arts (which saw their heyday, unsurprisingly, in dreary colonial New England), James Hijiya describes an 18th-century transition in Americans’ attitudes towards death, which was paralleled by a transition in the embellishments to the gravestones they designed. As “the… Continue reading »

Carmona’s America

Engraving America by Juan Antonio Salvador Carmona after Luca Giordano

All four of the paintings in Luca Giordano’s late 17th-century series The Four Parts of the World were destroyed in the turbulence that brought Portugal out of authoritarian rule in 1974 — a fire at the Spanish embassy in Lisbon, where they had been lent by Spain’s heritage agency… Continue reading »

Robert Riggs at the Circus

On the Lot lithograph by Robert Riggs

Robert Riggs, born in 1896, reached the peak of his popularity in the middle of the 1930s. As the Depression raged, prints increased in popularity. They were inexpensive and accessible in comparison to other artistic media, and their populist pedigree made them the ideal format for depicting vernacular, relatable… Continue reading »

Le Neptune françois

Le Neptune françois is a nautical atlas from 17th-century Holland often hailed as standing among the most intricate and beautiful ever published. Its elaborate decorative title-page, of which Chapin Library holds a fine version, is a convincing indication of the atlas deserving such praise. Hand-colored in arresting blues and… Continue reading »

Wilder Bentley the Elder

ink painting of fishermen

Wilder Bentley the Elder, born in 1900 and died in 1982, is perhaps best known as the proprietor of The Archetype Press, a semi-fabled California printing enterprise which published, among much else, Ansel Adams’ first book of photographs in 1938. Bentley’s artistic pursuits, however, were by no means limited to… Continue reading »

Libraries Closed for Winter Break

Winter Break snow globe

The libraries are closed for the college's annual Winter Shutdown. Library staff will be back online on Tuesday January 5, 2021. Buildings will re-open one day later on Wednesday January 6. Wishing everyone a restorative, peaceful and healthy break. More. Continue reading »