Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1995. First edition. Oblong folio (11 1/8 by 14 1/8 inches), 12 loose prints, original folded paper wrappers with illustrations on both panels. Prints and wrappers Fine. Item #758
POWERFUL WITNESS TO THE EVILS OF VIOLENCE, POVERTY AND RACISM
Scarce first edition of this selection of 12 loose prints by Fritz Eichenberg—an anthology of powerful witness to the evils of poverty, racism, and violence. This portfolio—with a brief Introduction by Robert Ellsberg (the publisher of Orbis)—selects a dozen of Eichenberg's most unforgettable images, including the Annunciation depicted in The Long Loneliness (1952) and the searing indictment of The Black Crucifixion (1963).
Born in Cologne, Eichenberg and his family fled Nazi Germany and settled in America, where he subsequently became a Quaker after the tragic death of his wife in 1938. Eichenberg's "heroes were artists like Kollwitz, Daumier, and Goya who had put their talents at the service of their moral and social convictions" (Robert Ellsberg) and his own artistic vision began to reflect his religious beliefs in pacifism and non-violence. Eichenberg attracted notice for his illustrations of literary classics but it was his work with Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement which secured his reputation. Day shared Eichenberg's deep devotion to Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. For his jacket illustration for the Long Loneliness (1952), "Eichenberg chose to represent her story with a depiction of the Annunciation in which the mystery of the Incarnation and the terrible path to the Cross are already joined." It was Eichenberg, along with Ade Bethune, who was largely responsible for the visual iconography of the Catholic Worker newspaper: "In over a hundred works, some reprinted so often as to assume the status of Catholic Worker icons, he was able to summarize in simple images the moral and spiritual perspective which the editors otherwise strove to communicate in words and deeds" (Robert Ellsberg).
The prints, each measuring 11 by 14 inches, consist of: I. Mohandas Gandhi / Great Soul (1942), II. The Peaceable Kingdom (1950), III. The Long Loneliness (1952), IV. Flight to Egypt (1953), V. Christ of the Breadlines (1953), VI. The Lord's Supper (1953), VII. Christmas (1954), VIII, Pieta (1955), IX. The Black Crucifixion (1963), X. St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata (1973), XI. Christ of the Homeless (1982), XII. Dorothy Day (1984). Ellsberg, All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets and Witnesses for Our Time. Rare complete and in this condition.