Thomas Handforth Prints Presented by Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers
September 28 - December 8, 2019
HMA Grant Writer Timothy Adkins will read from Thomas Handforth’s book “The Far Away Meadow” during Saturday KidsArt on November 2, 2019, at 1 p.m. An art project in connection with this exhibit will follow. Saturday KidsArt is generously sponsored by Cabell Huntington Hospital.
Artist Thomas Handforth (1897-1948), a native of Tacoma, Washington, is best known for his children’s book Mei Li, which was awarded the 1939 Caldecott Medal for the best American illustrated children’s book of the year. Set in China, it follows a spirited young girl’s adventures at a New Year fair, where she encounters a host of interesting characters, from animals to acrobats.
Handforth based his lively illustrations on his firsthand observations of China, a country in which he lived and worked for more than six years. He first traveled to China in 1931 after receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship, and during his residence there he created many etchings and lithographs that recorded the land and people that surrounded him.
Handforth’s career as a printmaker spanned more than 25 years and brought him many awards and honors. In addition to his Chinese subjects, he produced a multitude of works that recorded his travels around the globe, from time spent in the rural provinces of France to the more exotic cultures of Cambodia, Algeria and Morocco. His work often portrayed the traditional ways of these places as they struggled to stay relevant in a rapidly modernizing world. He found lithography to be a very agreeable medium that allowed him to create an expressive line and rich texture, though he was also a talented etcher and draftsman. As a contemporary critic remarked in a review of a 1939 exhibit, Handforth’s “deftness and assurance of his clean, swinging line never ceases to be a source of joy ...”
The Huntington Museum of Art owns 100 prints by Handforth, all of which were gifts of the artist’s estate. The exhibition will highlight a broad sampling of Handforth’s work that demonstrates his keen observational skills and mastery of the printmaker’s art.
This exhibit is presented by Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers.
Presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.
This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.
Thomas Schofield Handforth (American, 1897-1948), Sawdust Burner. Etching. Gift of Estate of Thomas Schofield Handforth, 1987.45.27.