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Lithographs 1932-1967 

The Philadelphia College of Art is pleased to present this retrospective exhibition 
of the lithographs of Benton Spruance, in honor of his distinguished achievement 
as artist and as a member of its faculty since 1934. 

Philadelphia College of Art, September 15 — October 6, 1967 

Mother of Birds 

This exhibition is to honor the long and distinguished teaching career of Benton 
Spruance. Ben is a recognized artist and is the "Dean" of Philadelphia lithog- 
raphers. It is in this field that he demonstrates his great knowledge and his great 
love of this artistic medium. No print ever leaves his studio that does not measure 
up to his scrupulous standards of quality, both of esthetics and of craftsmanship. 
He has set a high mark of attainment for the host of students who have had the 
good fortune to "sit at his feet." 

Ben's achievements are due primarily to the immense effort and all-encompassing 
concentration he devotes to each undertaking. From original drawing to finished 
lithograph there is meticulous attention to detail and to perfection. 

Secondly, his accomplishments reflect his great understanding of those masters 
who have preceded him and have, to a large extent, molded him, even as he has 
stimulated his students. 

As a result his lectures are a joy to hear. Many times I have witnessed his classes, 
sitting spellbound while listening to his scholarly discourses. I have always shared 
with his students their enthusiasm and interest. Never have any of us left one 
of his always informal "talks" without deriving new insights and renewed 
interests. We regret that we will not be favored in the future in the same 
inimitable way. 

Regardless of what has been said of his artistry and teaching, both of these 
qualities are overshadowed by Ben as a human personality. His warmth and 
spontaneity, his understanding and sympathy, mark him as an "homme extraor- 
dinaire." All of those who have studied with him will regret deeply his retire- 
ment. May this exhibition be a token of the love and appreciation we all have 
for him. May it also bear witness to the fact that we look forward, with great 
anticipation, to those works of art from his heart, mind and hand which we 
expect during the ensuing years spent in health, happiness and his ever-present 


The People Work — Evening 

C. J. Holmes — at one time Director of the National Gallery of Art in London 
and himself an artist — once wrote a book on Rembrandt's development as a 
printmaker. He showed how the artist started as an ordinary practitioner in a 
graphic medium, and by unremitting effort at self-education and self-criticism 
attained extraordinary creative facility. The artist taught himself: he learned 
how to profit from his mistakes and overcome his deficiencies. To be sure, there 
are still other types of artists who are born with a kind of inner grace and immedi- 
ate access to full powers. A Toulouse-Lautrec or a Pascin, for example, did not 
have to undergo an elaborate metamorphosis to acquire mastery. Their facility 
was innate, and whatever they touched, however casually, was endowed with 
aesthetic vitality. 

In his artistic development Benton Spruance followed the way of Rembrandt, 
the long hard way. He made his first lithograph in 1928 while in Paris on a 
Cresson Fellowship from the Academy. Somehow he had found his way to the 
lithographic printing shop of Desjobert. He remembers seeing Yasuo Kuniyoshi 
and John Carroll working there. He made several lithographs, and upon his 
return in 1930 on another Cresson, spent some time at the shop watching the 
workmen print. Because he had a smattering of French, Desjobert allowed him 
to hang around the atelier in return for acting as interpreter for those Americans 
who spoke no French. In this way he learned the rudiments of lithographic tech- 
nique, a subject which was not then taught in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine 
Arts. During the interval of almost forty years since his first attempts, Spruance 
has made according to the record well over four hundred lithographs. 

His very early prints — he has since destroyed many of them — have no great 
aesthetic distinction. They are thin and lacking in substance and form. Much 
of Spruance's early training had been architectural, and was not the best prepara- 
tion for graphic expression. Even the instruction in drawing prevailing in art 
schools had not advanced much beyond the conventional shades and shadows. A 
whole generation of young artists had to overcome their early training to conform 
with the more dynamic form-perceptions of the Post-Impressionists. Further- 
more, at the time Spruance admired and was influenced by Geoge Bellows, whose 
work was no paradigm of expressive draughtsmanship. There was much that 
Spruance had to learn over again. 

In Philadelphia he found a lithograph printer who had a press at home and who 
was willing to print for him and other artists in his spare time. He was Theodore 
Cuno, an old German craftsman who had printed for Joseph Penned at the 
Ketterlinus Co. and was then working as a color prover for another firm. The 
association with Cuno lasted for a long time, and again contributed to Ben's 
technical proficiency. If his style lacked distinction in the early days, at least his 
subject matter was novel and engaging. In the decade of the 1930's subject 
matter was important and social comment was in the air. Bellows led him to 
stress caricature above character in his delineation of types. Bellows likewise 
demonstrated the possibilities of sports as subject matter, and Ben responded in 
a series of football subjects. His Backfield in Motion of 1932 is the earliest litho- 
graph in the exhibition. His Pass to the Flat of 1939 is a measure of his develop- 
ment during the decade. Similarly in another theme, views of Philadelphia, one 
can trace an increasing maturity of style from Bulldog Edition of 1932 to the 
Bridge from Race Street of 1939. The decade of the 1930's was for Spruance a 
period of experimentation and groping toward a more personal style. Around 
1935-36 one seems to sense the influence of his friend Franklin Watkins in the 
angular gestures and the heightened intensity of expression of such prints as 
Philatelists or Caustic Comment. What was idiosyncratic and natural in Watkins 
became strained and all too obvious in Spruance. In due course Ben worked 
himself into modes of expression somewhat more sympathetic to his nature. He 
made a brief excursus into a kind of cubist stylization (Leger?) in such stones as 
American Pattern: Barns and Arrangement for Drums of 1941. One might also 
say that Karl Hofer and Max Beckmann, who were favorite artists among others, 
offered suggestions leading toward a more monumental style. But the recital of 
influences is an unprofitable task. Most artists are sensitive to currents in their own 
times, and take suggestions wherever they find them. All artists worth their salt 
take such hints and make them their own. 

In 1937, after much preliminary study and revision, Spruance issued a set of four 
large lithographs The People Work, and in the following year a similar set The 
People Play. Both were concerned with a certain kind of social commentary, a 
synthesis or documentary montage of urban life. They were sociological treatises 
in visual terms. They marked the culmination of a phase: the artist did not 
pursue the theme in the same way again. As time went on he became more free 

and less literal, he learned that it was possible to suggest as well as to spell out. His 
inspiration began to take a more symbolic form — interpretations in modern dress 
of classical myths and biblical themes. He continued in many instances to use the 
suite or sequence as the frame-work of his conception, the numbers in each series 
often running from three to ten units. 

The beginnings of his use of symbolic interpretation are evident as early as 1934 
(The Annunciation). Typical is his treatment of the Wise Men theme. The 
idea must have appealed to him, for he made three versions, the first in 1940 
entitled The Gift of the Kings and the third in 1943 called Epiphany. In each of 
the prints, one Wise Man in academic robes offers a book to the Child seated in 
his mother's lap; another bears the attributes of the physician, and the third the 
suggestion of a religious ministry. In a corner in the darkness lies a man in 
chains. The artist thus voices the hope that education, science, and religion will 
free a new generation from the bondage suffered by the old. Such graphic 
statements of humane values were edifying concepts, even if the artist's execution 
was not always commensurate with the grandeur of the idea. Spruance, however, 
went on during the late nineteen-forties and throughout the nineteen-fifties to 
refine his technical means and to bring his philosophical reflections to greater 
maturity. A list of some of the titles will suggest the range and development of 
his exploration in the fields of myth and scripture during that period: among 
suites, Ecclesiastes 1945, Vanities I and II 1949-50, Job 1951, St. Francis 
1953, Minotaur 1953, Centaur 1954, Four Northern Saints 1954, Resurrection 

1955, The Anabasis of Saint- Jean Perse 1957; among single stones, Behold the 
Man 1947, Prometheus 1953, Priestess 1954, Penelope 1956, Magdalene 

1956, Black Friday 1958. 

With an intelligence and social conscience as alert to current events as Spruance's 
it was natural that he would have something to say about World War II. He 
offered a prophetic glimpse of it in The Windshield of 1939 (from a planned 
review of the 1930's which never got beyond two stones) as well as sorrowing 
and bitter reflections in Lamentation 1941 and Souvenir of Lidice 1943. Perhaps 
the most striking of his war prints were Riders of the Apocalypse with its array 
of airplanes in the sky, and Fathers and Sons, a tragic commentary on war's recur- 
rent pattern, both of 1943. 

Low Entrance 
to a High Place 

It must be kept in mind that Spruance's printmaking activity was always concur- 
rent with a heavy teaching load and an active participation in public affairs. He 
is not and never has been an ivory-tower artist. He has been President of Artists' 
Equity and helped to shape its policy at a crucial time. He is a member of the 
Philadelphia Art Commission which acts as a watchdog over the city's archi- 
tectural beauty. As a knowledgeable trustee of the Samuel S. Fleisher Art 
Memorial, he has been active in its guidance and wise in his counsel. He is 
professor of Art and Chairman of the Department at Beaver College, and teaches 
painting, printmaking, art history and print history. He built up the Depart- 
ment of Printmaking at the Philadelphia College of Art and was its head until 
his retirement. Because of his experience as a teacher and art historian, he is an 
articulate interpreter of his own work, although on principle he seldom attempts 
it. And if I may insert a personal note and mention still another of his activities, 
I would cite the "Brain Trust," an informal group which met for dinner once a 
week at Imhoffs Restaurant during the early 1940's. The regular members 
consisted of Ben Spruance, Bob Riggs, Franklin Watkins, Alex Abels, and myself. 
Guests were often invited, and we generally managed to settle the affairs of the 
world — to our own satisfaction at least. One of the pleasant customs of the group 
was the rule that any member who won an award or prize had to stand treat for 
the crowd. Ben and Watty bore the brunt of such hospitality. 

I have spoken of the beginnings of Spruance's education in printmaking opera- 
tions in Desjobert's atelier, and of his working hand in hand with Theodore 
Cuno. This training was continued partly by working much later in several 
foreign printing shops (the Cursen Press in London, U. M. Grafik in Copen- 
hagen, and Desjobert twice again in Paris) but chiefly by his own manipulations 
on his own press. Lithography, more than any other graphic technique, requires 
for its mastery considerably more than learning from a technical manual or 
pedagogic demonstration: it calls for long practical experience above all, for dex- 
terity and know-how, the actual feel of the hand and wrist. The true lithographer 
learns by doing. And Ben, as a true lithographer, began to print his own litho- 
graphs. He first had access to a press in the school at Broad and Pine, where he 
taught lithography. Incidentally, one learns technique quickly when one has to 
teach it to others. In 1953 he bought a lithograph press for himself and set it up 
in his studio at Beaver College. From then on nearly all of his lithographs, with 

a few exceptions, were printed by him there or later in his private studio on 
Germantown Avenue, where he had installed his press in 1964. By an arduous 
process of self-training he has become a master printer. There is literally nothing 
that he cannot print in black or in color. Technique has become second nature 
to him, and this facility has in turn widened his creative horizons: he knows what 
effects are possible on stone. Although he has devoted all his life to lithography, 
he did make a few essays in other graphic mediums: in 1951 he executed a few 
woodcuts on the theme of Job, and in 1953 he made at least one etching and 
aquatint. He also has painted in oils off and on during his career. In 1963 he 
painted a notable mural for the chapel in the New House of Detention at Holmes- 
burg. (The lithograph Woman Offering Life in the present exhibition is a varia- 
tion of a motif in the mural.) 

There is, however, more to a fine lithograph than printing technique: there is 
also the " writing" on the stone — the how in addition to the what was said. The 
message never gave Ben much trouble. With his temperament and wide interests 
the idea always came first and he had plenty of them. It was in the area of what 
the conception was to become that the struggle lay. As T. S. Eliot said: "Between 
the conception and the creation — between the motion and the response — falls 
the shadow." To eliminate the shadow was his greatest task in self-education. He 
was aware of the problem and was determined to solve it as far as he was able. 
He had been handicapped by inadequate instruction in draughtsmanship. He 
set about training his eyes in tactile and form perceptions. Glasses helped, too, 
for he had certain defects of vision. But the problem was not entirely on the 
physical plane: it involved a change of attitude, a new approach. In a great work 
of art, form and content have equal validity and are perfectly fused. Each modi- 
fies the other to produce the resultant work of enduring merit. Originally Ben 
had considered the execution subordinate to the idea. He had to learn to become 
as emotionally and creatively involved in the means as he was in the meaning. It 
seems to me that the major break-through in this direction came about by his 
increasing involvement in color. There are a number of color prints in which the 
motivation appears to be exclusively pleasurable. He apparently was striving 
toward aesthetic realizations, playing with color and form, with lines and shapes 
for their own sake. With this self-knowledge and experience he has been able to 
achieve this ultimate fusion in his later years. 

In the current exhibition, which the artist himself selected, he has devoted thirty- 
five prints, or half of the total, to prints made in the 1960's, leaving the other half 
to represent the production of thirty-two earlier years. He has thus indicated his 
strong preference for the work of his immediate maturity. It is difficult to select 
notable prints among so many contenders. My own preference would be for such 
masterly interpretations as Lazarus, Odysseus, and Mother of Birds (Leda) , or 
the tender Winter Birds with its very personal associations for the artist. The 
beautiful color lithograph The Spectre of Moby Dick was the first devoted to the 
subject, and thus a forerunner to the great print sequence dramatizing the 
Passion of Ahab and his conflict with the White Whale, or Evil Incarnate. The 
series has been over two years in the making. None of the twenty-six large prints 
which constitute this magnum opus are shown here because they have not yet 
been formally published. 

Spruance has always worked in that tradition of graphic art which regards the 
print as meaningful communication. This tradition has not been popular in the 
past few decades with those artists who communicate little else than a sense of 
their own virtuosity. And they, many of them, are very much in vogue and suc- 
cessful. But Ben has stuck to his high purpose without compromise. He has 
worked long and faithfully in the vineyards of art. This exhibition is a tribute to 
his achievement, and incidentally a record of a life-long love affair with the 
lithograph stone. 

Carl Zigrosser 

Triumph of the Whale 

Catalogue of the Exhibition 

i. Backfield in Motion. 1932. io'/s x 14 3 /. black & white, ed. 30. imp. CUNO. Prize, 
Philadelphia Print Club. 

2. Bulldog Edition. 1932. 8 7 /s x i4'/4- black & white, ed. 30. imp. CUNO. 

3. Shells of the Living. 1933. i5 3 /8 x 7V2. black & white, ed. 28. imp. CUNO. 

4. Road from the Shore. 1936. io'/s x 14^. black & white, ed. 25. imp. CUNO. 

5. Traffic Control. 1936. 8V S x 14^. black & white, ed. 35. imp. CUNO. 

6. The People Work — Morning. \ 

™, D , rx , , , 7 / 1937- i3 s /£xiq. black 8c 

7. The People Work — Noon. I V _V °' J . ^ rT „ T ^ 

' r } white, ed. 40. imp. CUNO. 

8. The People Work-Evening. ?am ^ Meda] p A p A 

9. T/i^ People Work — Night. J 

10. The Bridge fro?n Race Street. 1939. is^xS 1 /^. black & white, ed. 30. imp. CUNO. 

1 1. Pass to the Flat. 1939. 14 x 22. black & white, ed. 45. imp. CUNO. Prize, Philadel- 
phia Print Club. Eyre Medal. P. A. F. A. 

12. The 30's — Windshield. 1939. 8% x 14*4. black & white, ed. 35. imp. CUNO. 

13. Portrait at Dusk. 1939. 15H x io 1 /^. black 8c white, ed. 20. imp. CUNO. Prize, 
Laguna Beach Art Association. 

14. American Pattern — Barn. 1940. 7 3 /4 x 14. 2 colors, ed. 40. imp. CUNO. 

15. Arrangement for Drums. 1941. 9'/2 x 14^. 2 colors, ed. 40. imp. CUNO. 

16. Souvenir of Lidice. 1942. 12 x i8!4- black & white, ed. 35. imp. CUNO. Prize, 
Artists for Victory. 

17. Riders of the Apocalypse. 1943. \2 b /& x i6 3 /8. black & white, ed. 35. imp. CUNO. 

18. Fathers and Sons. 1943. iiVs x zo l /s- black & white, ed. 36. imp. CUNO. Award, 
Laguna Beach Art Association. 

19. Football. 1944. 12V2X20. 5 colors, ed. 40. imp. CUNO. 

20. Eyes for the Night. 1948. 19x13. 4 colors, ed. 35. imp. CUNO. Prize, Boston Print- 
makers, Boston. Prize, American Color Print Society, Philadelphia. Prize, Pennell 
Memorial Exhibition, Library of Congress. 

21. Variation. 1950. 131/2 x i8 3 /s. 3 colors, ed. 20. imp. CUNO. 

22. Memorial. 1950. 18 1 /*! x 1314. 5 colors, ed. 40. imp. CUNO. 

23. "Hast Thou Observed My Servant — Job?" 1951. i8%xi2i4. colors, ed. 27. imp. B.S. 
Prize, Philadelphia Art Alliance. 

24. "My Hand I Lay Upon My Mouth." 1951. i8?4xii}4. color, ed. 22. imp. B.S. 

25- Portrait — Mrs. C. S. 1952. tgVs x 1 3 V2- 8 colors, ed. 12. imp. B.S. 

26. Death of the Minotaur. 1953. 19 x 14^. 5 colors, ed. 35. imp. DESJOBERT. Prize, 
Philadelphia Print Club. 

27. Clue to the Labyrinth. 1953. i6!4 x 22 J /2. black & white, ed. 35. imp. CUNO. 

28. Fragment. 1954. i6 5 /8XiiV8- 6 colors, ed. 32. imp. B.S. 

29. Thorn Bush. 1955. 23 x \bVz. 8 colors, ed. 25. imp. B.S. Prize, Lugano Switzerland. 

30. Penelope. 1956. 15 x lgVs- 4 colors, ed. 210 for IGAS. imp. CUNO. 

31. Magdalene. 1956. 23 x i6 3 /4. colors, ed. 30. imp. B.S. Prize, Philadelphia Print Club. 

32. Poet on Horseback. 1958. 2354 x 16%. 8 colors, ed. 25. imp. B.S. Prize, California 

33. Figure in a White Studio. 1958. 13^8x191/4. colors, ed. 40. imp. B.S. 

34. Web of Dream. 1959. 22 x \d>V%. black & white, ed. 40. imp. CUNO. 

35. Worship of the Past. 1959. 15V2 x 19V2. black & white, ed. 40. imp. CUNO. (then 
B.S. in color.) 

36. Odysseus, i960. 26 3 /8Xi6%. color, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

37. The Fourth Seal. i960. 18^8 x 243/8- 5 colors, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

38. Angel with Freed Birds. 1961. 28 x 20. 7 colors, ed. 25. imp. B.S. Prize, American 
Color Print Society. 

39. I, Lazarus. 1961. 23 3 ,4xi8. 7 colors, ed. 23. imp. B.S. 

40. Bird Shapes. 1961. 14^8x26. 6 colors, ed. 22. imp. B.S. 

41. Galilee. 1961. 24V2 x 17^. black & white, ed. 29. imp. TAMARIND. 

42. Dark Bed. 1961. i8i4 x 28V2. 3 colors, ed. 28. imp. B.S. Prize, Society American 
Graphic Artists. 

43. Two Figures. 1961. 2o!4 x 28 3 4. 8 colors, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

44. Juggler. 1962. 26V2X1934. 6 colors, ed. 30. imp. B.S. 

45. Islands of E. L. 1962. 15^ x 21%. 4 colors, ed. 15. imp. B.S. (from drawing by E. L.) 

46. Orpheus in Hell. 1962. 2814 x lg 3 /*. colors, ed. 30. imp. B.S. 

47. Eagle in the Sky. 1962. igx24 3 /8- colors, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

48. Joshua. 1962. 24 1 / 4xi7 1 /£. colors, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

49. Trumpeter. 1962. 26 3 4xi7%. 3 colors, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

50. Spectre of Moby Dick. 1963. i8 3 ,4x26. colors, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

51. Woman Offering Life #2. ig63. 25 3 /4 x lgVi 5 colors, ed. 30. imp. DESJOBERT. 
Prize, P. A. F. A. 

52. Low Entrance to a High Place. ig63. 25 x 18. color, ed. 30. imp. U. M. GRAFIK. 

53. St. John — Eagle. ig64. 26^ x iS 1 /^ color, ed. 30. imp. B.S. 

54- St. Mark — Lion. 1964. i8y6x 22 3 A- color, ed. 30. imp. B.S. 

55. Studio Stairs. 1964. 24V2X15. color, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

56. City Church. 1964. 2^ 7 /sx i'jVs- color, ed. 40. imp. B.S. 

57. Dogs and Broken Gallows. 1964. 18V6 x 24^. 4 colors, ed. 20. imp. B.S. 

58. Winter Birds. 1964. 181/2x23. color, ed. 20. imp. B.S. 

59. Ariadne and Daedalus. 1964. 1914 x 27^- color, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

60. Ariadne and Theseus. 1965. igx27 3 /8. color, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

61. Ariadne and Dionysus. 1965. 27 x 18%. color, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

62. St. Luke — Bull. 1965. 19x24. color, ed. 30. imp. B.S. 

63. St. Matthew — Angel. 1965. 2634 xi8 3 /8. color, ed. 30. imp. B.S. 

64. Studio Press. 1965. 24 1 Ax\ 1 ]. color, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

65. Studio Window. 1965. 24V2X15. color, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

66. Garden Door. 1965. i9%x28 3 /8. color, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 

67. Angel with a Sword. 1966. 16^3x25. color, ed. 20. imp. B.S. 

68. Triumph of the Whale. 1966. 22 x 2g 3 A. color, ed. 19. imp. B.S. 

69. Figure in a Deserted Landscape. 1966. 20V2 x 26 3 /8. color, ed. 20. imp. B.S. 

70. Mother of Birds. 1967. i8 1 / 4x26 1 / 4. 6 colors, ed. 25. imp. B.S. 
Note: Dimensions are in inches. Height precedes width. 

In the great majority of the prints the paper used is RIVES HEAVYWEIGHT, or 


During the war years (1942-1945) STRATH MORE BRISTOL was used for a few 


Since 1963, some lithographs are printed on CRISSBROOK WATERLEAF, an 

English sheet. 


Clue to the Labyrinth 

The Lithographs of Benton Spruance 

1928: Old Wall of Florence 

Amusement Park — Vienna 

Portrait— W. G. S. 
1929: The Homing Instinct 

Stool Pigeon 

Portrait of Betty Schnabel 

Subway Madonna 


Woman's Head 
1930: House at Eaux Bonnes 

Pyrenees #1 

Pyrenees #2 

Walled Town 

Card Players 

Portrait — Seldon Cary 

Blonde Head 

Breton Circus — Slackrope 

Breton Circus — Bareback Rider 

Luxembourg Gardens 

1 931: April — Wet 

Confusion of Spring 

The Flashy Back 

Street Scene — Germantown 

Brief Interlude 
1932: Young Colored Girl 

Bluebell Hill 

Approach to the Station 

Backfield in Motion 

Closed Road 

Self Portrait 

Spinner Play — Small 

Rain in the City 

Bulldog Edition 
1933 .' Driving Tackle 

Shells of the Living 

Entrance to Germantown 
Cat and Busybody 
Ball Carrier 
Touchdown Play 
Thrill of the Game 
Late Departure 
Player Unmasked 

1934: Changing City 

Middle Germantown 
Schuylkill Bridges 
End Sweep 
Head — Janet W. 
Conversation With Death 
Young Socialist 
Spinner Play — Large 
Highway Holiday 

1935: Prelude to Rest 

Introduction to Love 
College Student 
Harps Once Played 
The Philatelists 
Visitor to Germantown 
Design for America #/ 
Shovel Pass — Large 
Design for America #2 
Girl in Repose 
The Homecoming 

1936: The Dreamer 
Siren Song 

Destiny Near Dasmascus 
Caustic Comment 
Short Gain 
Road From the Shore 
Collect For Peace 
Girl With Locket 
Traffic Control 

1937 : Symbols of Grace 

Little Fencer 

Head — Ann Mills 

The People Work — Morning 

The People Work — Noon 

The People Work — Evening 

The People Work — Night 

1938: Retrospect 

Pass Coming Up 

Macbeth — Act V 

Portrait of a Teacher 

Head — Jean T. 

Morning in Babylon 

Arrangement — For Jenny 

Supplies For Suburbia 

Girl With Gloves 

The People Play — Summer 

The Vagrant 

The Backs Move In 

1939: Plans for the Future 

Seated Nude — To C. H. 

Figure With Still Life 

The Bridge From Race Street 

Girl With Pigtails 

Pass to the Flat 

Head of Mary 

The People Play — Spring 

The Bar at Doyle's 

Figure of Woman 

Flight From the Beach 

Portrait A t Dusk 

The 30's — Windshield 

The 30 's— Requiem 

The 30's — Graduation 

1940: Peter 

Repose in Egypt 
Landscape With Figures 
Girl With Her Hands To Face 
Woman's Head 

Portrait — D. B.B. 

Young A be Lincoln 

American Pattern — The Barn 
1941: Portrait of Jean 

Brief Balance 

Air Raid 

Gifts from the Kings 

Arrangement for Drums 

Opening Note 

Portrait — Toby M. 

The Conversion 


Last Stop — Beach Haven 

Warn the Disunited 
1942: Self Portrait at the Stone 

Farewell in the Dawn 

Triptych — Credo 

Adirondacks — The Sentinals 

Portrait — C. Z. 

Souvenir of Lidice 
1943 •' Portrait — Henri 

Pieta — From the Sea 


Riders of the Apocalypse 

The Second Front 

The Deliverance 

Susana and the Elders 

Fathers and Sons 
1944: Resurrection 

Girls With Flowers 

End of Waiting 


Soldier and Chaplain 


Ridge Valley Churches 

Tulpehocken Road 
1945: Sonia and Her Cello 

Little Dead Blue Jay 

Ecclesiastes — Essay V 

Kim and Art 

Portrait — William Coale 

A Wind Is Rising and the Rivers Flow 
— Black & White 

Man Reading A Play 

A Wind Is Rising — Color 
1946: Midsummer Spiel 

Venus — A wake! 

Ecclesiastes — Essay I 

Ecclesiastes — Essay II 

Ecclesiastes — Essay III 

Ecclesiastes — Essay IV 
1947: Dream of Love 

Salome and John 

Night In Eden 

Women In Front of Their Houses 

Figure With Mirrors 

Behold — The Man 

Eyes for the Night — Black & White 

1948: Eyes for the Night — Color 

No Home for a Bird 


World of One's Own 

Mary Sturgeon 

Lot's Wife 

Seminole Blouse 

Havoc in Heaven 


Newtown Towers 

To A Dead Child 
1949: Soliloquy — Black & White 

Soliloquy — Color 

Fallen Angel 

Of Course He Will Come 

Set Pieces — Black & White 

Set Pieces — Color 

I'll Be What I Choose— Black & White' 

I'll Be What I Choose — Color 

St. Anthony 

1950: Memorial — Color 

Broken Carousel — Black & White 

Broken Carousel — Color 

Lamentation — Color 


Gift From Judith 

Jacob and the Angel 

Girl With Mask — Black ir White 

Girl With Mask — Color 

Salome and John — Color 

1951: Hamadryas Ape 

Subway Playground — Black ir White 

Subway Playground — Color 

The Initiates 

Tarot Pyramid 

Curse God — And Die — Job 

My Hand I Lay Upon My Mouth — Job 

When I Laid the Earth's 
Foundations — Job 

Hast Thou Observed My Servant — Job 

Job's Comforters 

God Bless America 
1952: Portrait — Mrs. C. S. 

Studio Piece 

Ahab's Revenge 

Self Portrait 

Towards Freedom 

Jacob and the Angel 

Shark and Sonar 

Triptych — The Long Night 

Fire's Out 

Climate of Fear — Color 

Studio Chair With Jeb 

1953: Ariadne — The Skein 

Ariadne and Daedalus 

Prometheus — Color 

Death of the Minotaur — Color 

Clue to the Labyrinth 

Triumph of the Minotaur 

St. Francis — The Field 
St. Francis — The Piazza 
St. Francis — The Market 

1954: Daedalus and Icarus 

From Kill Devil Hill 

Portrait — Sandra 

Fortune Teller 

St. George 

St. Michael 

St. Jerome 

St. Gall 

Small Dancer 


The Centaurs — / — The Saint 

The Centaurs — // — The Lapith 

The Centaurs — 1/7 — Apotheosis 

The Centaurs — IV — The Poet 

The Centaurs — V — The Hero 


I 955 : Gertrude and the Birds 

Pholus in Hell 

Dark Angel 


Easter Angel 

Paper Shapes 

Very Early in the Morning 

Priestess — Large 

Orange Priestess 

Two Angels 

Return of the Hero 

Man in Limbo 

Thorn Bush 

Water Jar 

Bird Cage — Black if White 

Bird Cage — Color 
1956: Jacob and the Man — Color 

Young Painter 


The Deposition 


Birds and Thorn Bush 
Figure — Female 
Red Recorder 
Portrait — Dr. E. W. 

I 957 : Portrait — Miss Ann Schnabel 

Jocasta Regina 


Old Owl— Black ir White 

Old Owl — Color 

Head of Mary 

Judith — Portrait With Ponytail 

The Window — Day 

The Window — Night 


Anabasis — Set of 10 

Anabasis — The March — Color 
1958: Poet on Horseback 

Black Friday — Black & White 

Black Friday — Color 

Winter Portrait — The Scarf 

Nests in the Ivy 

Memory of Germantown 

Figure in a White Studio 


Manifestation With Wings 

Resurrection — Small 

Boy in Space — R.C. 

Summer Sleep 
1959: Altar 

Mourning Figure 

Web of Dream 


Worship of the Past 

Pygmalion — Small 

Return of the Goddess 

White Portrait 

Pygmalion — Large 

Seamarks — / — The Master of Stars 

Seamarks — 2 — The Tragediennes 

Seamarks — 3 — Stranger Whose Sail 
Seamarks — 4 — O Sea Which Swells 
Seamarks — 5 — The Patrician Women 
i960: King Mummer 
The Fourth Seal 
Revelations Symbols 
Gettysburg — July 1 — The Cut 
Gettysburg — July 2 — 

Little Round Top 
Gettysburg — July 3 — The Angle 
Angel With Freed Birds 

1 961: Portrait of Eloise 

Icarus With Angels 

I, Lazarus 

The Sea — Icarus 

The Sea — Galilee 

Bird Shapes 

Galilee — Black ir White 

Dark Bed 

Two Figures 

Damascus Road 
1962: The Unicorn 

The Phoenix 

The Centaur 

The Sphinx 


Orpheus In Hell 

Islands of E. L. 

The Ladder 

Eagle in the Sky 

Eagle in the Sun 

Mother and Child 


The Trumpeter 
1963: Woman Offering Life #/ 

Spectre of Moby Dick 


Persons Reaching 

Homage to a Barn 


Woman Offering Life #2 

The Survivors 

Living Rocks 

Northern Minotaur 

Minotaur With Bronze Horns 

Low Entrance to a High Place 

Daedalus Celebrated 

Icarus Mourned 
1964: Monuments — Copenhagen 

Man Carrying His Dog 

Skyscape — To Ralph Hodgson 

St. John — Eagle 

St. Mark — Lion 

Studio Stairs 

City Church 

Dogs and Broken Gallows 


Ariadne and Daedalus 

Winter Birds 

1965: St. Luke — Bull 

St. Matthew — Angel 

Ariadne and Theseus 

Ariadne and Dionysus 

Studio Press 

Studio Window 

The Vise — Black & White 

Descent With Fire 

Figure Sleeping 

Shaft of Light 

Garden Door 
1966: Birthday Print for L. J. R. 

Angel with a Sword 

Tobias and the Angel — Color 

The Vise — Color 

Triumph of the Whale 

ip6y: Figure in a Deserted Landscape 
Mother of Birds 
Tobias and the Angel — Black ir White 

ig6yig66-ig6j: 27 Color Lithographs 

"The Passion of Ahab" — 
Master of the Pequod 
Call Me Ishmael 
Harpooner and Monster 
The Whiteness of the Whale 
Strike Through the Mask 
The Albatross 
The Town-Ho's Story 
The Jeroboam 
The Jungfrau 
The Rosebud 
The Samuel Enderby 

The Bachelor 

The Rachel 

The Delight 

The Candles 

The Sphinx 

The Blue Whale 

The Spirit Spout 

Ahab Aloft — The First Day 

Ahab in the Jaws 

Death of Fedallah 

Ahab and Starbuck 

The Last Thrust 

Death of the Pequod 

The Vortex 

The Skyhawk 


I, Lazarus 

Fathers and Sons 

Benton Spruance joined the faculty of what is now the Philadelphia College of 
Art in 1934. With the exception of leaves of absence for World War II and two 
Guggenheim Fellowships he has taught at the College continuously since then. 
When the College was re-organized in 1959 and academic rank assigned to the 
faculty he was among the first to be appointed to a full professorship. 

In his very quiet and gentle way, Benton Spruance is one of the formative forces 
at the Philadelphia College of Art. Young colleagues have developed and matured 
through their association with him, while generations of students have begun to 
understand the possibilities of prints and printmaking under his guidance. For 
students and faculty alike he has provided a sustaining spirit of human under- 
standing made visible through his technical knowledge and esthetic sensitivity. 

Recent graduates of the College will remember Benton Spruance not only for 
his work in the studio but also for his course in the History of Prints taught at the 
Rosenwald Collection. While surrounded by a wealth of original prints in the 
quiet of the study room at Alverthorpe he was able to bring something from his 
own experience which enabled members of the class to see and understand the 
work under discussion, their own work, and the world around them as well. 

The Philadelphia College of Art can justly say of Benton Spruance after more 
than thirty years' association what Chaucer said of his Clerk over five hundred 
years ago: 

Nought o word spak he more than was nede, 
And that was seyd in forme and reverence, 
And short and quik, and ful of hy sentence. 
Souning in moral vertu was his speche, 
And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche. 

Eyes for the Night 

Honors and Awards 

i 9 6y 
i 9 6 5 
i 9 6 5 
i 959 
i 959 

i 95 6 

i 95 6 

J 955 
i 954 

J 953 


i 95 i 

i 95 i 

i 949 
i 944 
i 944 

x 943 
1 94 1 

J 939 
J 937 

Honorary Member American Institute of Architects 

Blue Whale — Society of American Graphic Artists Prize 

The Spirit Spout — The Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts Pennell Medal 

Art Alliance Medal of Achievement 

Sketch Club Medal for Service to the Arts 

The Candles — The Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts Prize 

American Color Print Society Prize 

Woman Offering Life — The Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts Graphics Prize 

Dark Bed — Society of American Graphic Artists Purchase Prize 

Angel and Freed Bird — American Color Print Society First Prize 

White Figure — American Color Print Society First Prize 

Mourning Figure — Bay Printmakers First Prize 

Return of Goddess — National Academy Arms Prize 

Poet on Horse — California Etchers First Prize 

Black Friday — National Academy First Prize 

Magdalene — Lugano International Exhibition 

Thorn Bush — Lugano International Exhibition 

Bird Cage — Society of American Graphic Artists Prize 

Dancer — The American Color Print Society Prize 

St. Francis Piazza — National Academy of Design Prize 

Death of the Minataur — The Philadelphia Print Club Prize 

Philadelphia Print Makers — Philadelphia Print Club — First Prize 

Hast Thou Observed — The Philadelphia Art Alliance Prize 

Regional Print Exhibition — The Philadelphia Art Alliance — First Prize 

Guggenheim Fellowship 

Boston Print Makers First Prize 

Pennell Memorial Exhibition, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. — First Prize 

Audubon Artists First Prize 

The Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts — Beck Medal for Portrait Painting 

American Artists for Victory Exhibition of Prints, First Prize 

Laguna Beach Art Association, First Prize 

Laguna Beach Art Association, First Prize 

National Exhibition of American Lithography — Philadelphia Print Club — First Prize 

Eyre Medal 

The Philadelphia Water Color Club — Pennell Medal for Graphic Art 

i 9 2 9 , i 9 J2, i 9 j 9 : The Philadelphia Print Club Gribbel Prize 

One-Man Shows 


Beaver College Gallery 


Muhlenberg College 


Philadelphia Print Club 


Associated American Artists 


Reading Museum 


Sacramento Museum 

1 96 1 : 

Edinboro State College 


Rehn Gallery, New York City 


The Philadelphia Print Club 


The Sessler Gallery, Philadelphia 


Woodmere Gallery, 25 Years in 





Texas Western University 


East Carolina College 


Boston Library 


Utah State University 

I 959 

J 959 
i 95 8 

J 957 
i 95 6 
i 95 6 

x 955 

J 955 



J 954 

J 954 

The Philadelphia Museum College 

of Art Medal 

Chestnut Hill College 

Lehigh University 

The Sessler Gallery 

The Alverthorpe Gallery 

Louisiana State University 

West Chester Art Center 

The Pennsylvania Academy of 

The Fine Arts 

Oklahoma Art Center 

Pennsylvania State University 

Dickinson College 

Rehn Gallery 

Wesleyan University 

George Washington University 

In Retrospect, Joslyn Museum, 

Omaha; Mt. Holyoke College; 

Swarthmore College 

Works in Public Collections — Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum, New York; 
Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; The Library 
of Congress and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C; The Philadelphia Museum 
of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; The New 
York Public Library and others. A Mural Painting is in the Municipal Court Building, 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Member of the National Academy of Design and the Society of American Graphic Artists, 
New York; The Print Club and the Art Alliance, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the Board of 
Directors of the Fleisher Memorial; the City Art Commission, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 
former member of the Pennell Purchase Commission, Library of Congress, Washington, 
D.C.; and past president of Artists' Equity. 

He is an Academician of the National Academy of Design. Benton Spruance was Director 
of the Department of Printmaking at the Philadelphia College of Art from 1934 to 1965. 

Ariadne and Theseus 

Design / Richard Hood 

Photography / Jack Simons 

Photograph of Benton Spruance / Biagio Pinto 

This catalog has been prepared at 
The Philadelphia College of Art. 
It is set in Baskerville and printed on 
Strathmore Cover and Text by The Drake Press.