James Fenimore Cooper

Illustrating Cooper

F.O.C. Darley is one of the most widely known artists of the nineteenth century, having provided illustrations for books by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and, perhaps most famously, James Fenimore Cooper. Several years after Cooper’s death in 1851, the Townsend edition of Cooper's collected workspublished by W.A. Townsend between 1859 and 1861—were all illustrated with at least two images by Darley.

The gallery "Darley Illustrations" in this exhibition includes all of the plates from the thirty-two volumes in the Townsend edition. To complement the images, "Manuscript to Print" features Darley's account book, which contains a record of the New York illustrator’s accounts with Townsend. Additionally the Society has scanned its collection of proofs produced by Alfred Jones, the engraver who executed several plates from Darley's designs for the Townsend edition. These proofs are part of a larger archive of Jones's work at the Society and may be seen here.

Illustrations by Paris artists and engravers Tony and Alfred Johannot for Cooper's novels from 1832 are also featured on this page. Like Darley, the Johannots never received professional training but became the most prolific and popular professional book illustrators of their day. The 1832 illustrations on display were published in five parts and showcase the Johannots’ mastery of the Romantic style of the 1830s.

At left is Johannot's version of the struggle before Scipio's death in The Red Rover. At right is Darley's version of the same scene.

Although Alfred Johannot produced a portrait of Cooper around 1827, Cooper’s surviving correspondence reveals very little about his involvement in or reaction to illustrations of his works. Perhaps he was ultimately more interested in tracing pictures with words and not with the engraver’s burin.