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
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
LESSING J. ROSENWALD
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Portrait of Betty Schnabel
1930: House at Eaux Bonnes
Portrait — Seldon Cary
Breton Circus — Slackrope
Breton Circus — Bareback Rider
1 931: April — Wet
Confusion of Spring
The Flashy Back
Street Scene — Germantown
1932: Young Colored Girl
Approach to the Station
Backfield in Motion
Spinner Play — Small
Rain in the City
1933 .' Driving Tackle
Shells of the Living
Entrance to Germantown
Cat and Busybody
Thrill of the Game
1934: Changing City
Head — Janet W.
Conversation With Death
Spinner Play — Large
1935: Prelude to Rest
Introduction to Love
Harps Once Played
Visitor to Germantown
Design for America #/
Shovel Pass — Large
Design for America #2
Girl in Repose
1936: The Dreamer
Destiny Near Dasmascus
Road From the Shore
Collect For Peace
Girl With Locket
1937 : Symbols of Grace
Head — Ann Mills
The People Work — Morning
The People Work — Noon
The People Work — Evening
The People Work — Night
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 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
Repose in Egypt
Landscape With Figures
Girl With Her Hands To Face
Portrait — D. B.B.
Young A be Lincoln
American Pattern — The Barn
1941: Portrait of Jean
Gifts from the Kings
Arrangement for Drums
Portrait — Toby M.
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
Susana and the Elders
Fathers and Sons
Girls With Flowers
End of Waiting
Soldier and Chaplain
Ridge Valley Churches
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
Havoc in Heaven
To A Dead Child
1949: Soliloquy — Black & White
Soliloquy — Color
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
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
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
God Bless America
1952: Portrait — Mrs. C. S.
Jacob and the Angel
Shark and Sonar
Triptych — The Long Night
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
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
Very Early in the Morning
Priestess — Large
Return of the Hero
Man in Limbo
Bird Cage — Black if White
Bird Cage — Color
1956: Jacob and the Man — Color
Birds and Thorn Bush
Figure — Female
Portrait — Dr. E. W.
I 957 : Portrait — Miss Ann Schnabel
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.
Web of Dream
Worship of the Past
Pygmalion — Small
Return of the Goddess
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
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
The Sea — Icarus
The Sea — Galilee
Galilee — Black ir White
1962: The Unicorn
Orpheus In Hell
Islands of E. L.
Eagle in the Sky
Eagle in the Sun
Mother and Child
1963: Woman Offering Life #/
Spectre of Moby Dick
Homage to a Barn
Woman Offering Life #2
Minotaur With Bronze Horns
Low Entrance to a High Place
1964: Monuments — Copenhagen
Man Carrying His Dog
Skyscape — To Ralph Hodgson
St. John — Eagle
St. Mark — Lion
Dogs and Broken Gallows
Ariadne and Daedalus
1965: St. Luke — Bull
St. Matthew — Angel
Ariadne and Theseus
Ariadne and Dionysus
The Vise — Black & White
Descent With Fire
Shaft of Light
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 Town-Ho's Story
The Samuel Enderby
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
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
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
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1 94 1
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
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
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
Beaver College Gallery
Philadelphia Print Club
Associated American Artists
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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
Utah State University
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The Philadelphia Museum College
of Art Medal
Chestnut Hill College
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
George Washington University
In Retrospect, Joslyn Museum,
Omaha; Mt. Holyoke 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,
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.