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Political cartoon book illustrating Europe during WWII

Object | Accession Number: 2016.547.5

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    Brief Narrative
    Small paperback book owned by Harold Lehman of sixty political cartoons by David Low illustrating the lead up to World War II and the course of war up to 1941 owned by Harold Lehman. All but two of the cartoons were previously published in The London Evening Standard, the Picture Post, or Collier’s newspapers. David Low was a New Zealand born, self-taught artist who created political cartoons for newspapers first in New Zealand and Australia, then in Great Britain. His cartoons were later syndicated worldwide. Low satirized British politicians along with their foreign and domestic policies and developments in international politics. Low was especially critical of the fascist regimes of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Josef Stalin. He also criticized British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement toward Germany in the 1930s. Both Low and Harold Lehman were known for making political statements with their art. Lehman was born and raised in New York City, but moved to Los Angeles as a teenager, attending the Otis Art Institute. While in L.A. he worked with Phil Guston, Jackson Pollock, D.A. Siqueiros, and Manuel Tolegain. In 1941 Harold moved back to New York and continued his career, working with the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) and the Federal Art Project, both New Deal programs to employ artists. He also worked with the Treasury department and Abbott Laboratories to create War Bond advertisements, pro-American propaganda, and anti-fascist pieces.
    Europe At War
    A History in Sixty Cartoons with a Narrative Text by LOW
    publication:  1941
    publication: London (England)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Lisa Lehman Trager
    front cover, printed, white and black ink : EUROPE SINCE / VERSAILLES /by / LOW / TWENTY-FIVE CENTS
    spine, center, blue ink EUROPE SINCE VERSAILLES
    spine top, black ink : DAVID [last name torn off]
    back cover, top and bottom, printed, white ink : PENGUIN BOOKS / HARMONDSWORTH MIDDLESEX ENGLAND / and 41 EAST 28TH STREET NEW YORK CITY / U.S.A.
    back cover, center, black ink : Photo : Douglas Slocombe / DAVID LOW / is a New Zealander of Scottish-Irish parentage. / He began drawing political cartoons for the / Press as a small boy, and thereafter was associ- / ated with various newspapers and periodicals / in New Zealand nad Australia. In 1919 he / started work in London, and without inter- / mission since then has followed the trail of / events with at least four cartoons weekly, / contributed latterly to the EVENING / STANDARD. He has produced sixteen / books of caricatures, cartoons and drawings.
    Artist: David Low
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    Printer: Wyman & Sons Limited
    Original owner: Harold Lehman
    David Low (1891-1963) was a political cartoonist born in Dunudin, New Zealand. A self-taught artist, he began contributing cartoons to his local newspaper at the age of eleven. He spent time creating political cartoons for local papers as a freelance artist and as a contributor to the Bulletin of Sydney, Australia, before joining the English Star in 1919. He would spend the rest of his career in Britain creating several political cartoons a week, which were syndicated worldwide, satirizing British politicians and foreign and domestic policy. Low was especially critical of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement of Hitler and the regimes of Europe’s Fascist leaders, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin.
    Harold Lehman (1913-2006) was born in New York City, New York to Abraham and Rachel Lehman, immigrants from Europe who arrived in New York at the turn of the twentieth century. Early on, Harold’s father struggled to find consistent employment, working as a mailman and a vaudeville dancer. Later he found steady work as an insurance agent and then left the family and moved to California. His mother was a seamstress. Harold had a twin brother and was one of five children. Harold was part Jewish, and went through synagogue as a boy. The family lived in the West side of Brooklyn and then in the Bronx. In February 1930, Harold and his older brother Charlie moved to California to live with their father.

    In California, Harold enrolled at the Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles. There he formed lifelong friendships with future notable artists such as Phil Guston, Jackson Pollock, and Manuel Tolegain. Early in his art career, Harold worked primarily as a sculptor. He used plaster and clay as well as carving directly in stone. In 1931, after graduating from Manual Arts, Lehman won a citywide competition for a yearlong scholarship to the Otis Art Institute. In 1932, after leaving Otis, Harold focused on painting and began working with painter D.A. Siqueiros, joining his “Bloc of Painters,” a group of artists with socialist leanings. In 1933, Harold won second place in the Los Angeles Museum’s annual competition of painters and sculptors. In 1933 and 1934, Harold did work for the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) a New Deal program to employ artists.

    In 1935, Harold felt he had gone as far as he could in Los Angeles, and returned to New York City. There he painted murals for the Federal Art Project, another New Deal program created to employ artists, and sold paintings at exhibits and shows. During this time he continued working with Siqueiros and began experimenting with different types of paints, lacquers and application methods. In 1936 and 1937, Harold created paintings opposing the Fascists and the German and Italian intervention in the Spanish Civil War. In 1939, Harold painted a mural for the World’s Fair in New York. While working with Siqueiros, Harold also designed floats for several New York City parades promoting the Allied war effort and denouncing fascism. In the fall of 1941, Harold fell while painting a mural and broke both his arms. While recuperating, Harold was called up for service by the draft board. With the combination of his broken arms, his disinclination towards violence, his inability to take orders and his work as an artist for federal programs, he was able to get a deferral.

    In 1942, Harold moved from New York City to Woodstock, NY where he created several war paintings for the Section of Fine Arts and the Treasury Department. Around this time, Harold was approached by Arnold Blanch and Reeves Lewenthal, from the Associated American Artist Gallery. Through a partnership with Associated American Artists and the United States Treasury Department, Abbott Laboratories created a program to create advertisements and illustrations for its medical journal What’s New and for the United States Government’s War Department through their Schools-At-War program. They provided Harold with poster themes and he was free to create within that setting. The series of posters was created through the auspices of the Treasury Department and were successfully published nationwide. In 1943, two of Harold’s war posters were featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s Artists for Victory exhibit. In 1945, in response to the revelation of the atrocities of the Holocaust, Harold did many blackened drawings of prisoners and the camps.

    In 1946, Harold left Woodstock and returned to New York City. He continued easel painting, sculpting, and photography. He also began teaching art from his studio on West 21st Street. In 1950, Lehman met Leona Koutras, who had come to his studio for art lessons. Two years later they married and had two children. In the 1970s Harold worked as designer and scenic artist for CBS and NBC television.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Book; 60 color plates; 10.875 cm. Small paperback book with a red cover, the book title and a political cartoon are on the front along with a cartoon image of a penguin. The book is bound with adhesive, the spine has the author’s name at the top, the title in the center, and an illustrated penguin at the bottom. The back cover has a centered white rectangle with an inset portrait and a short biography of the author.
    overall: Height: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm) | Width: 7.250 inches (18.415 cm) | Depth: 0.250 inches (0.635 cm)
    overall : paper, ink, adhesive

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Low, David, 1891-1963.

    Administrative Notes

    The book was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2016 by Lisa Lehman Trager, the daughter of Harold Lehman.
    Record last modified:
    2023-05-24 15:53:26
    This page:

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