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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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William H. Bradley, American, 1868-1962

The Chap Book ("Pegasus")
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College; PS.973.30


The development of commercial color lithography helped to spur the widespread production of colorful, stylish posters at the turn of the twentieth century. The “poster craze,” which took hold initially in Paris and soon spread throughout Europe and the United States, offered an important creative outlet and source of income for some of the leading artists and graphic designers of the period. In order to create bold, eyecatching designs, artists drew from a range of contemporary stylistic trends, including art nouveau, the Arts and Crafts aesthetic, symbolism, and the large unbroken planes of color, asymmetrically cropped compositions, and stylization of form associated with Japanese prints. One of the most adept American poster designers, Will Bradley established his reputation in 1894 with twelve cover designs for Chicago’s Inland Printer, a journal for the printing trade. That same year he produced the first poster for The Chap Book, which began by promoting books issued by its Chicago publisher, Stone and Kimball, and quickly developed into an important small literary magazine. This is Bradley’s sixth Chap Book cover and one of his most complex compositions. Whereas many of his designs exhibit the sweeping, curvilinear lines of art nouveau, the medieval imagery of the red knight (upon which is superimposed a black Pegasus at the upper right) and allover ornamental patterning of this poster owe more to the Arts and Crafts movement. In the face of late-nineteenth-century mass production of decorative goods, proponents of the Arts and Crafts movement held in particularly high regard the strong handcraft guilds, literary and printing traditions, and flattened, stylized approach to design associated with the medieval period. The Hood Museum of Art has extensive holdings of posters from the 1890s as well as posters relating to World War I and World War II.

Last Updated: 5/6/09