Jan 28, 2021 - Sale 2556

Sale 2556 - Lot 184

Price Realized: $ 1,625
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
ARTHUR B. FROST (1851-1928)
"Nature Study With a Camera" Together, 21 drawings for a 20-panel cartoon published in The Ladies' Home Journal, August 1915. Three of the included panels were replaced with a different composition in the final publication. Pen and ink on stiff paper. Image sizes vary, each on an approximately 185x245 mm; 7 1/2x9 1/2-inch sheet. Final page signed "A. B. Frost." Not dated. Loose sheets organized into 3-ring binder with sheet protectors. A 24-panel concept study sheet in graphite accompanies the lot.

The full published caption reads "Nature Study With a Camera: William Tries to Photograph a Lamb and Finds its Action so Contagious That He Becomes Quite Lamblike."

Frost, an already well-established illustrator, enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1878 to study under Thomas Eakins. At the time, Eakins was fascinated with technical advances in photography, particularly the innovative motion studies of Eadweard Muybridge. Theirry Smolderen argues that Muybridge's study of movement in animals and humans, and its visual output of repetitive chronophotographic compositions, was influential for Frost's picture stories. He states: 'In a certain way his comics engaged, within the realm of cartoons, a discussion that paralleled that which was unfolding in the world of art.' (Smolderen, 120).

Frost was one of the first cartoonists to develop a style based on the expressive potential of the photographic process.

This charming picture story of a photographer and a lamb illustrates how Frost playfully engaged with the idiom of progressive action. Frost evokes Muybridge's repetitive grid to move beyond the temporal and spatial aspects of motion to evoke what Smolderen calls the 'inner, elastic metric of surging emotion.' (Smolderen, 126). Here, Frost's initially wary photographer absorbs the spontaneous energy and hapless exuberance of the rambunctious lamb he attempts to photograph. The 24-panel concept study sheet and the revisions to panels included in the published version show Frost's artistic process and the possible guidance of an editor, who may have suggested that the visual narrative could be conveyed through fewer panels. See the chapter 'A. B. Frost and the Photographic Revolution,' published in The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay by Theirry Smolderen (Jackson: University of Mississippi, 2014, pages 119-136, reproduced page 118).