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Academy of Arts and Sciences Catedral la fuerza havana

Views of Cuba By E.J. Meeker
ca. 1925

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E.J. Meeker. [Scenes around Cuba.]. Grisaille drawings, circa. 1925. Each about 11 x 17 (image) on boards 15 x 20. Gouache & watercolor on illustration board. Some staining and chipping in margins; images clean except where noted. All are signed "E. J. Meeker" with watercolors.

royal palace -- avenue colon park  havana Before photography dominated news publishing, skilled illustrators like Edwin James Meeker (1853-1936) provided on-the-spot, detailed images to inform the reading public. In the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century, Meeker's work was published in Scribner's, Harper's Weekly, and other weekly news magazines. When the Century Company published Battles and Leaders of the Civil War in 1884, Meeker was hired to reduce 11 x 14 inch illustrations by Alfred E. Matthews to a 2 5/8 x 4 5/8 inch format (see Neely and Holzer, The Union Image, p. 72). Meeker's name appeared in the credits, but he was not the original illustrator at these battles. Other publishers hired him to illustrate important architecture or historic events, from the 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago to an early women's basketball game between Stanford and the University of California.

Because Meeker was active among an army of illustrators, reliable information about him and his career is sparse: members of his trade were not so carefully documented as more recognized artists. Through this body of his work, we know that at some point after the presidency of Mario García Menocal (1913-1921), he traveled to Havana and the surrounding countryside. With his grisaille drawings of Cuba, Meeker showcased the full range of his skills. Architectural detail appears with precision; human figures bring scale and movement to broad landscapes. With strong tonal gradation and well-balanced composition, the artist communicates the intricacy of Cuban architecture and the beauty of the island's natural vistas. A beautifully executed series of views that showcases Cuba in its early years as a republic.

Click on underlined titles to see images.

  1. "La Fuerza Havana. Oldest inhabited building in America."
  2. "The Prado Havana."
  3. "A Rural Home. Birthplace of ex-President Menocal near Matanzas, Cuba." Some spotting in sky; slight crackling of pigment.
  4. "Viuallas Valley, Cuba" Blind stamp reading "Drawing Board" in upper left corner
  5. "Old Palace Havana." Slight gouache loss in sky and on building façade.

    Benovita Road

  6. "Sunset in Nike Bay." Some gouache loss and crackling.
  7. "New Havana - The Gomez Building - Havana at Central Park Plaza."
  8. "Typical Cuba. Cauto Valley."Slight crackling.
  9. "Central Railway Station , Havana." Faint spotting in upper right corner.
  10. "Old San Francisco Church, Havana. As restored - now used as Custom House." Slight crackling where gouache heavily applied.

  11. "Royal Palace. [Illegible] Avenue Colon Park Havana." [Portrait orientation.]
  12. "On the Benovita Road." With some pen work.
  13. "Moro Castle. Harbor Entrance. Havana. From the Malecon."
  14. "Malanjas Cuba. Sugar boats on the San Juan River."
  15. "Old Havana. Side Approach to Cathedral."

  16. [No title noted; fine five-story neo-Baroque structure, probably Havana.]
  17. [Plaza de la Catedral.] On back, "Old Cathedral, San Francisco, Havana."
  18. "Academy of Arts and Sciences. Havana."
  19. "Laurel Ditch. Cabanas Fortress where students were executed."

- Priced at $38,000 for the set. -

Malanjas -- Sugar Boats on the San Juan River Old Havana.  Side Approach to Cathedral. The Prado Havana


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