This minimalist yet evocative watercolor painting shows three men standing together against a blue sky while a horse grazes in the foreground.
This illustration appears as a full-page bookplate on page 132 of Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington.
From its founding in 1973 until its closing in 2000 The Franklin Library produced public domain classic books as well as some limited first editions. They released them in subscription series such as The 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature. Often released in parallel series including leather-bound and a non-leather bound (leatherette), the books were handsomely bound and included illustrations from contemporary illustrators.
American painter and illustrator Bart Forbes (b. 1939) was specially commissioned to create a series of interior illustrations for The Franklin Library’s 1977 publication of Booker T. Washington’s autobiography Up from Slavery.
The book describes Washington’s personal experience of having to work to rise up from the position of a slave child during the Civil War, to the difficulties and obstacles he overcame to get an education at the new Hampton Institute, to his work establishing vocational schools—most notably the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama—to help black people and other disadvantaged minorities learn useful, marketable skills and work to pull themselves, as a race, up by the bootstraps.
Washington was a controversial figure in his own lifetime, and W. E. B. Du Bois, among others, criticized some of his views. The book was, however, a best-seller, and remained the most popular African American autobiography until that of Malcolm X. In 1998, the Modern Library listed the book at No. 3 on its list of the 100 best nonfiction books of the 20th century, and in 1999 it was also listed by the conservative Intercollegiate Review as one of the “50 Best Books of the Twentieth Century”.
The illustration is matted and framed behind glass in its original wood frame and includes Franklin Library ink stamps on verso.
This is unsigned by the artist.
Bart Forbes (born July 3, 1939 in Altus, OK) is an American painter and illustrator. He has worked for most of the popular magazines, amongst them TIME and Sports Illustrated, Ladies Home Journal, McCalls, Golf Digest, as well as a broad selection of corporate clients. His wide variety of works include postage stamps for the US Postal Service, Time Magazine’s Man of the Year article on Jimmy Carter, paintings of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, theme paintings for the PGA tournaments and club houses and paintings of the Dallas Cowboys for Jerry Jones private jet. He was the recipient of the 1986 Sport Artist of the Year Award given annually by the American Sport Art Museum and Archives. The Sports Art of Bart Forbes, a collection of his most famous sports paintings, was published by Beckett in 1998. He was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2017, undoubtedly the highest honor bestowed on artists in the field of illustration.
Bart Forbes is a gifted painter–illustrator who has gained great respect over a 55+ year period. He is well known for his loose painterly, yet realistic style of work which, in the 1970s–80s, were regularly reproduced to accompany stories for McCalls, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal and other popular women’s magazines. At that time number of limited edition prints were published including the Male and Female Golfers, the Endangered Species series and images of Native Americans among others.
As Forbes’ career progressed and the women’s magazines adopted a smaller size format, most often without short stories, his focus shifted to the world of sport with commissions from Sports Illustrated, Time and The National Football League. In 1987 he was commissioned by the Korean Olympic Committee to be the KOC’s official artist for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Several of those images were reproduced in a series of limited editions prints as well.
Over the years requests for large paintings necessitated that he change medium from water color to oil, but his style retained its original loose, washy quality which it still his trademark. In 2005 – 2007 TCP Sawgrass Golf Club in Ponte Vedra, FL. commissioned Forbes to do a number of mural-size paintings of legendary golf moments and players from the Players Championship Tournaments. He is currently experimenting with still life and landscape paintings, some of which are reproduced as Giclees.