“Not Even a Nibble”

“Not Even a Nibble” (January 20, 1915)
by Jerome S Smith
12.5 x 14.5 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

The signature says “JS Smith” and the notation on the back says “Jerome Smith,” “Judge,”and “Leslie’s Weekly” (both of which were illustrated magazines).

Trentino is an independent area in northern Italy that has been the site of wars and disputes for 1500 years.

After the Napoleonic era, the Austro-Hungarians were running the show in Trentino as a bulkwark against possible aggression by Italy.

Motivated by the Germans, the Italians signed a defensive alliance with Austria-Hungary and Germany (the Triple Alliance) in 1882. Italian public opinion remained unenthusiastic about the alignment with Austria-Hungary, still perceiving it as the historical enemy of Italy. In the years before World War I, many distinguished military analysts predicted that Italy would change sides if an actual war were to break out.

In 1914, Serbia was invaded by Austria-Hungary, kicking off WW1. Abiding by the terms of the Triple Alliance, Italy declared its neutrality. Italians were still hostile to continuing Austrian occupation of ethnically Italian areas.

In early 1915, the aggressor Germans were dangling the benefits of the alliance and a unified front stretching down the Italian peninsula.

Revealed later, the Italians were, in fact, switching sides. On April 26, they signed on to the Treaty of London, and aligned with the Triple Entente (France, Britain, Russia). They declared war on Austria-Hungary on May 24, 1915.

“Proposed New Revenue Measure”

“Proposed New Revenue Measure” (April 1, 1909)
by John Tinney McCutcheon (1870-1949)
14 x 19 in., ink on drawing board
Coppola Collection

On the Purdue campus, where he was a student, McCutcheon (class of 1889) is memorialized in a coeducational dormitory, John T. McCutcheon Hall. The lobby displays an original of one of his drawings, a nearly life-size drawing of a young man.

After college, McCutcheon moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he worked at the Chicago Morning News (later: Chicago Record) and then at the Chicago Tribune from 1903 until his retirement in 1946. McCutcheon received the Pulitzer Prize for Cartoons in 1932.

Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich was a Senator from Rhode Island from 1881 to 1911. He was a power-broker in the Senate, especially in the areas of budget and finance, and his work led to the Federal Reserve system. Aldrich also sponsored the Sixteenth Amendment, which allowed for a direct federal income tax. He was interested in how to raise money for the Federal Government.

Shortly after President Taft’s inauguration in 1909, Aldrich co-sponsored a controversial bill, the Payne–Aldrich Tariff Act, which taxed imports and enacted a small income tax on businesses. The bill led to a severe split in the Republication party.

Aldrich himself was a controversial figure, seen as wielding power in his long-time Senatorial service with vested interested in big money and influence.

His daughter Abigail married into the Rockefeller family, and his descendants include his namesake, Nelson A. Rockefeller.

The cartoon criticizes the perception of lame-brained plans being created by the government to extract money from its citizens. McCutcheon used this Professor Dippe as a comedic foil in a number of his cartoons.


“Another Simple Simon”

“Another Simple Simon” (March 15, 1915)
by Edward Scott “Ted” Brown (1876-1942)
13 x 17 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

One cartooning historian describes Brown as “an absolute whirling dervish at the drawing board, producing more material for the daily pages than anyone except the great George Frink.” Brown worked for the “Chicago Daily News” (ca. 1908-24) and the “New York Herald-Tribune” (1925-42).

Ted Brown, who spent his early years chasing the Alaska gold rush of 1898, returned to the US with no gold score and was a longtime editorial cartoonist for the New York Herald-Tribune, supplanting Jay N. (Ding) Darling in that position. Brown took ill in mid-1942 and died in late December.

Wilhelm was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia.  He was attracted to and impressed by the pomp of military heraldry but his theatrical posturing as ‘supreme warlord’ only disguised his unpredictability and ineffectiveness as a war leader. He reigned for 30 years, right up to his abdication and exile after WW1 (1918). His behavior made him a gift for Allied satirists and caricaturists. During the First World War his image was seen as the personification of evil and ultimate source of all German ‘frightfulness.’

Schrecklichkeit (German “terror” or “frightfulness”) was a word used by English speakers to describe an assumed military policy of the German Army towards civilians in World War I.  It was the basis of German actions during their terror march through Belgium in 1914. Similar policies were followed later in France, the Russian-held area of Poland, and in Russia.

In early 1915, the second year of World War I, the Kaiser was seen as inept and power-mad.

He had insatiable appetite for war and conquest, but he had bitten off more than he can chew in taking on the world. Germany was facing set-back after set-back on multiple fronts.

Exactly one month later, the military upped the ante on “frightfulness” in a severe way, dragging tanks of chlorine gas onto the battlefield in the first example of using chemical warfare in the modern age.

He proved indecisive and ineffective as a war leader and increasingly strategic and political power fell to the German High Command. He became a shadow monarch during the war, useful to his generals as a public-relations figure who toured the front lines and handed out medals. After 1916, Germany was, in effect, a military dictatorship dominated by two generals, Paul von Hindenburg, who would be President of Germany during the rise of Hitler, 15 years later, and Erich Ludendorff.


“Pear and Concord Grapes No. 2” (2019)

“Pear and Concord Grapes No. 2” (2019)
by Abbey Ryan (1979-)
4 x 5 in., oil on canvas on panel
Coppola Collection

In 2007, Abbey Ryan started making daily paintings for her blog. Wet on wet; one sitting. Each painting, according to her, is “a meditation on the present moment.”

Her paintings have been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine’s “Women Who Make Beautiful Things,” Seth Godin’s Linchpin: Are You Indispensible?, FOX’s Good Day Philadelphia, Yale Radio, 10,000 Hours podcast, and American Art Collector. She was named #5 on the list of 49 Creative Geniuses by Boost Blog Traffic.

I have been collecting her work since the start. I think she is an exceptional talent whose work is tinged with the spirit of the Old Dutch Masters.

“His Favorite Sport”

“His Favorite Sport” (August 17, 1934)
by Cyrus Cotton “Cy” Hungerford (1889-1983)
14.5 x 17.5 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Hungerford worked for the Wheeling (West VA) Register before becoming editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Sun for fifteen years from 1912. He joined the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1927 and stayed there until his retirement in 1977.

As early as April 1934, Hitler knew that Hindenburg would be dead by year’s end. He spent much of the spring and summer working to get the armed forces to support him as Hindenburg’s successor. Huge banners blazened with the “JA dem Führer!” campaign message adorned buildings. The year before, no parties other than Nazis were permitted, so this was the last step for Hitler to assimilate power. Hindenburg, as President, had the power to dismiss Hitler.

On August 1, with Hindenburg nearly gone, pushed the cabinet into passing a law that merged the offices of President and Chancellor. The next day, immediately after Hindenburg’s death, within hours, Hitler had the armed forces swear allegiance to the new Führer.

A referendum was to be held on August 19, a move so typical of Hitler’s reign, to demonstrate (by strong-arming with no actual choice) that these political changes were the will of the people. The interim between taking power and then claiming it was filled with the typically out-sized and out-loud rhetoric used by the new Nazi leader.

Hitler to declare a national holiday on August 17, 1934 so that he could address the German people directly over the millions registered radio sets.

Never let it be said that the world did not notice the rise of this windbag, inflated by and backed by his troops.

Author and academician George M. Schuster, at the end of 1934, published “Strong Man Rules,” an attempt to interpret of the rise and victory of the Nazi movement and of its policies. He made an effort to understand the failure of liberalism in Germany and to explain the evolution of the mentality that moved such a large part of the German people to see heroism and statesmanship.

Schuster writes: “I went to listen to Hitler again, but Hitler is a windbag and a wire-puller – a politician who knows how to capitalize his own emotions and those of others.

‘Under cover of the high-falutin’ verbiage with which Hitlerism drugged its followers, the Nazis “carried out as efficient a raid on the cupboard as Mother Hubbard’s own. When they were through, it was bare indeed. They made laws enabling them to revise the civil service codes, and under cover of that revision placed their men in all jobs within reach. Persons without the slightest training or practical experience were dropped into august easy chairs.”

Among other positions, Shuster would go on to a 20-year tenure as the President of Hunter College (1940-1960).

“The Liquor Drought.”

“The Liquor Drought.” (Among Us Mortals, 06/16/1944)
by W.E. (William Ely) Hill (1887-1962)
18.5 x 15 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

W.E. (William Ely) Hill (1887-1962) was known for his masterful black and white Sunday page, “Among Us Mortals,” sometimes referred to as the Hill Page. Please see the Gallery description for more about Hill.

In this June 16, 1944 edition, titled “The Liquor Drought.”

“Homer is making the biggest kind of a hit with Lois by ordering champagne cocktails. She doesn’t know they’re the cheapest drinks in the Happy-Day bar and Grill.”


“Landscape Sunset” (2019)

“Landscape Sunset” (2019)
By Neil Carroll (1996-)
6 x 6 in., oil on canvas
Coppola Collection

Carroll is a self-taught painter from London. He has been painting in oils since 2011, and doing it full time since 2017. He has developed a strong impressionist style layered onto a bold realist foundation.

I liked the Rothko sense of these horizontals.


“Seein’ Stars” (March 27, 1941)

“Seein’ Stars” (March 27, 1941)
by Frederic Seymour “Fred” or “Feg” Murray (1894-1973)
11 x 14 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

A bronze medalist from the 1920 Olympics, Murray became a sports and “Hollywood gossip” cartoonist. The “Seein’ Stars” feature ran daily from 1933-1941, although the Sunday strip continued to 1951. My two examples are lined up with my WW2 interests. The other one features an actor who plays Hitler.

This edition features a profile of George E Stone (1903-1976), who portrays Hirohito (although the character’s name was Suki Yaki) in “The Devil with Hitler” (1942). The plot is a burlesque farce: In the pits of Hell, the board of directors decides to replace Satan with Adolf Hitler. Satan persuades them to give him 48 hours to save his job by getting Hitler to perform a single good deed.


“Joe Kennedy says…”

“Joe Kennedy says…” (January 24, 1941)
by Mischa Richter (1910-2001)
11 x 14 in., ink and wash on paper
Coppola Collection

Mischa Richter (1910-2001) was a well-known New Yorker, King Features, and PM newspaper cartoonist who worked for the Communist Party’s literary journal “New Masses” in the late 1930 and early 1940s, becoming its art editor in the 1940s.

Just before that time, he worked in the WPA art project as a mural painter in New York. He then turned to cartooning, doing editorial and humorous cartoons for the daily newspaper, PM, and then becoming art editor for the New Masses.

The New Masses (1926–1948) was an American Marxist magazine closely associated with the Communist Party in the US. It succeeded The Masses (1912—1917) and later merged into Masses & Mainstream (1948—1963). With the coming of the Great Depression in 1929, America became more receptive to ideas from the political left and the New Masses became highly influential in intellectual circles. The magazine has been called “the principal organ of the American cultural left” from 1926 onwards.

In 1941 Richter began his longtime affiliation with the New Yorker, as well as producing daily panels, “Strictly Richter” and “Bugs Baer” for King Features. In the 1970s and 1980s, Richter did numerous drawings for the OpEd page of the New York Times.

Although he was FDR’s ambassador to the UK, Joe Kennedy was an isolationist and increasingly at odds with FDR as it became clear that the US would eventually become involved with the war in Europe. FDR kept Kennedy in the UK, out of reach of the public eye in the US.

Shortly after FDR’s re-election in November 1940, Kennedy was brought back to the US and was a public critic of the President. He was vocal about Churchill, FDR, and even Eleanor Roosevelt, and famously declared “democracy was finished in England.” The two men continue to fall out. In January 1941, FDR met one last time with Kennedy, dissuading him from publically opposing the lend-lease program.

The drawing depicts two P.O.Ws stating “Joe Kennedy says the people of Europe are asking what they’re fighting for.”

“Seein’ Stars” (July 21, 1941)

“Seein’ Stars” (July 21, 1941)
by Frederic Seymour “Fred” or “Feg” Murray (1894-1973)
11 x 14 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

A bronze medalist from the 1920 Olympics, Murray became a sports and “Hollywood gossip” cartoonist. The “Seein’ Stars” feature ran daily from 1933-1941, although the Sunday strip continued to 1951. My two examples are lined up with my WW2 interests. This one features an actor who plays Hitler, the other an actor who plays Hirohito.

This edition recounts the travails of an actor who played Hitler in a movie called “Man Hunt.” Carl Ekberg (1903-1976) was typecast as Hitler, which must have been internal information as he only ever acted in uncredited roles. The first time he played Der Fuhrer was in the movie referenced here (“Man Hunt,” June 1941 release), and then again in “Citizen Kane” (September 1941 release), which, all things considered, is pretty cool. He portrayed Hitler twice again in 1942 (“The Wife Takes a Flyer” and “Once Upon a Honeymoon”), and German soldiers 15 more times between 1943-48. That was it for his filmography until he played Hitler one more uncredited time in 1966 (“What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?”).