Lot 187: PERHAM NAHL (1869-1935). PANAMA PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION / SAN FRANCISCO. 1915. 24x13 inches, 63x34 cm.

Swann Auction Galleries

October 27, 2016, 1:30 PM EST
New York, NY, US
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Description: PERHAM NAHL (1869-1935) PANAMA PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION / SAN FRANCISCO. 1915.
24 3/4x13 1/2 inches, 63x34 1/4 cm.
Condition B+: repaired tears, minor restored losses, creases and restoration in margins; creases in image and text; repaired pin holes in corners; horizontal fold.
Perham Nahl, born in San Francisco, was active in the art world of Northern California, first studying painting and drawing, then working in lithography and illustration art. In 1907, Perham became one of the founders of the School of the California Guild of Arts and Crafts, where he then taught in addition to being a professor at U.C. Berkeley. His poster, which illustrates the "Thirteenth Labor of Hercules," was awarded first prize and made the official image of the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition - a world's fair held in San Francisco celebration of the engineering feats of the Panama Canal (while also flaunting California's own recovery from the 1906 earthquake). "Despite the fair's display of technological marvels [Nahl's poster] displays nothing technological. Instead it shows a muscled, naked, Michelangelesque hero forcing apart a pastoral Culebra Cut to create the canal . . . 'thrusting apart the continental barrier at Panama to let the world through to the Pacific incidentally to the . . . Exposition, whose fair domes and pinnacles rise mistily beyond'" (Imperialism p. 146). Nahl uses the powerful imagery of Hercules, Greek mythology's strongest mortal, to imply that Hercules' Thirteenth Labor is to hold back the landmasses of a man-made triumph - the valley of the Panama Canal. rare. Northern California pl. 6, Imperialism p. 147 and cover.
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