Graphic Communications Through the Ages: Kimberly-Clark paintings
Scope and Contents
"Graphic Communications Through the Ages" commemorates significant milestones in the history of communications technologies: the development of paper and character forms, typography design, and printing. The paintings were commissioned in 1966 by the Kimberly-Clark Corporation of Neenah, Wisconsin, who employed three internationally-known historical illustrators to produce the series: Robert A. Thom (1915-1979), Douglas M. Parrish (1922-2001), and George I. Parrish, Jr.(1930-1992).
Each of the 24 original paintings is in the medium of oil on masonite and range in size from 22 x 30 inches (Ives) to 36 x 48 inches (Papyrus, Gutenberg). Each painting is presented in a frame especially created for it by the House of Heydenruk, New York, NY.
The paintings illustrate the history methods for communicating the written word developed between 950 B.C. and the early twentieth century. Specific events, people, and technologies are meant to be viewed in a chronological order, and titled Papyrus and Pictography (950-685 B.C.); the Roman Alphabet (506 B.C.); Charlemagne and the Monastic Scribes (800 A.D.); Chinese Block Printing (868 A.D.); Papermaking at Fabriano, Italy (1293); Johann Gutenberg and Movable Type (1455); Nicholas Jenson (1470); Aldus Mantius (1495); Geofroy Tory and Simon de Colines (1525); William Shakespeare’s First Folio (1623); John Peter Zenger (1735); Benjamin Franklin (1758); Alois Senefelder and Lithography (1796); William Blake (1800); Fourdrinier and the Papermaking Machine (1803); Friederich Koenig and the Cylindrical Press (1812); Lord Stanhope and Stereotyping (1802); George P. Gordon and the Platen Press (1858); Frederic Ives and the Half-Tone Process (1878); Ottmar Mergenthaler and the Linotype (1886); William Morris (1891); Tolbert Lanston and the Monotype (1897); Ira Rubel and the Offset Press (1904); and Frederic W. Goudy (1943).
- Parrish, George I., Jr. (Artist, Person)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open to researchers.
Biographical / Historical
The painting series was commissioned in 1966 by Kimberly-Clark Corporation. Founded in 1872 and originally based in Neenah, WI, the paper manufacturer brand has since expanded to include mainly personal care products such as Kleenex and Huggies.
Kimberly-Clark commissioned artist Robert A. Thom, (assisted by Douglas Parrish and George Parrish Jr.) to undertake the 24-painting series. Countless hours of intensive research were required to authenticate as accurately as possible the subject matter shown in each painting. The artists carefully researched each scene by referencing portraits of their subjects, learning about historic equipment, and sometimes even building scale models to aid in faithful technological depiction. The resulting works are marked by a lush realism where accurate costume and scene offer delightful windows on the working lives of such icons as Charlemagne, Gutenberg, and Franklin.
Upon completion of the paintings in 1971, Kimberly-Clark promoted them by traveling an educational exhibition, which toured some 300 venues across the United States. Explanatory text panels included in the show recounted the story of graphic communications over the several thousand years documented by the paintings. In 1975 the paintings were donated to Rochester Institute of Technology, specifically for display in the university’s School of Printing Management and Sciences. In 1991 the bulk of the collection was moved to the Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Graphic Arts Collection at The Wallace Center at RIT.
24 Item(s) (24 oil paintings)
The collection consists of 24 paintings illustrating the history methods for illustrating the written word developed between 950 B.C. and the early twentieth century.
The collection is meant to be viewed in a chronological order.
Cary Collection Reading Room
Cary Collection Arhur M Lowenthal Memorial Room
Cary Collection Dudley A. Weiss Reading Room
RIT Press Alexander S. Lawson Publishing Center
The paintings were originally commissioned by the Kimberly-Clark Corporation in 1966. In 1975, the paintings were donated to Rochester Institute of Technology for display at the School of Printing Management and Sciences. In 1991 the bulk of the collection was moved to the Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Graphic Arts Collection at The Wallace Center at RIT.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Graphic Communications Through the Ages was donated to RIT by Kimberly-Clark Corporation in 1975.
- Frank J. Romano et al. Hand of a Master; Advancements in the Graphic Arts. Rochester: School of Print Media, 2002.
- "Graphic Communications Through the Ages, presented by the Kimberly-Clark Corporation." Kimberly-Clark Corp., 1971.
- "Graphic Communications Through the Ages, a Series of Paintings Sponsored by Kimberly-Clark Corporation." Online exhibition. RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection. Accessed June 18, 2013.
- "George I Parrish Jr.", Art on Campus. RIT Libraries. Accessed June 18, 2013.
- "Douglas M. Parrish.", Art on Campus. RIT Libraries. Accessed June 18, 2013.
- "Robert Thom.", Art on Campus. RIT Libraries. Accessed June 18, 2013.
- "Cary Collection.", Art on Campus. RIT Libraries. Accessed June 18, 2013.
Collection processed by Tyler J. Gilbert, June 2013.
Finding aid encoded by Tyler J. Gilbert, June 2013.
- Charlemagne, Emperor -- Pictorial works
- Alphabet -- History
- Blake, William -- Pictorial works
- Fourdrinier, Henry (Papermaker) -- Pictorial works
- Goudy, Frederic W. (Frederic William) (Type designer) -- Pictorial works
- Graphic arts -- History
- Gutenberg, Johann (Type designer) -- Pictorial works
- Incunabula -- Italy
- Inscriptions -- History
- Jaggard, William (Publisher) -- Pictorial works
- Jenson, Nicolas (Printer) -- Pictorial works
- Koenig, Friedrich -- Pictorial works
- Lanston, Tolbert -- Pictorial works
- Letterpress printing -- History
- Lithography -- History
- Manutius, Aldus (Printer) -- Pictorial works
- Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Graphic Arts Collection
- Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Graphic Arts Collection -- Art collections
- Monotype (Engraving), American
- Morris, William (Printer) -- Pictorial works
- Newspaper publishing -- History
- Offset lithography
- Oil paintings (visual works)
- Papermaking -- History
- Papermaking machinery -- History
- Photoengraving -- Halftone process
- Press and politics -- United States -- History -- 18th century
- Printing -- History
- Printing presses -- History
- Printing presses in art
- Publishers and publishing -- History
- Rubel, Ira (Lithographer) -- Pictorial works
- Shakespeare, William
- Stanhope, Charles Stanhope, Earl -- Pictorial works
- Stereotyping (Printing) -- History
- Tory, Geoffroy (Type designer) -- Pictorial works
- Type and type-founding -- History
- Type and type-founding in art
- Typefounding matrices -- History
- Typesetting -- United States -- History
- Graphic Communications Through the Ages: Kimberly-Clark paintings
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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