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Morris Henry Hobbs Collection of Mexico Etchings


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Morris Henry Hobbs Collection of Mexico Etchings, 1942 | The Latin American Library at Tulane

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Collection Overview

Title: Morris Henry Hobbs Collection of Mexico Etchings, 1942Add to your cart.

ID: Manuscripts/Collection 48/(49)

Primary Creator: Morris Henry Hobbs (1892-1967)

Extent: 20.0 Items

Arrangement: 1 Oversize Hollinger box

Date Acquired: 11/24/2013

Subjects: Architecture, Church -- Mexico, Architecture, Colonial -- Mexico, Artists -- Mexico, Cathedrals -- Mexico, Charles Longabaugh, Cities and towns -- Mexico, Gordon Abbott, Guanajuato, Mexico, James Swann, John F. Swalley, Merida, Mexico, Mexico, Morris Henry Hobbs, Ralph Fletcher Seymour, Social life and customs -- Mexico, Taxco, Mexico

Forms of Material: Drawings, Etchings, Photographs

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

1942.  20 pieces of artwork done or collected by Morris Henry Hobbs.  14 pieces were done by Hobbs himself.  They include pencil drawings, etchings, drypoint prints, and drawings in brush and ink.  Four additional etchings by other artists are included as are two bromide photographs by Gordon Abbott.  The theme for all of these pieces are cityscapes of Mexican towns, most feature scenes from Taxco, Guerrero.

Collection Historical Note

Morris Henry Hobbs was born on January 1, 1892 in Rockford, Illinois.  His father was a professional watchmaker, and Morris grew up working in his father's workshop where he developed his natural talent for manual dexterity and precision learning to carve handles for his father's tools.

He trained and worked as an architect after his family moved to Chicago around the turn of the century, despite having a strong inclination toward art.  In 1918, Morris enlisted in the American Expeditionary Forces to go fight in Europe during World War I.  By the time his unit arrived in Brest, France, the war ended, giving Hobbs time to indulge in sketching and painting vistas of the city and surrounding landscape, keeping his interest in art alive.  Unfortunately, Morris came down with a case of the 1918 influenza.  He recovered but the illness severely damaged his sense of hearing and he was for the rest of his life functionally deaf.

On his return to the United States, Hobbs joined Frank Chase’s architectural firm in Chicago.  His deafness made it difficult to work with clients, so Morris decided to re-focus his work on drafting.  It was at this firm that he met his first wife, Julia, and the couple married in 1921.  They moved soon after to Toledo, Ohio where Hobbs became a partner in the architectural firm of Gerow, Conklin, and Hobbs.

In Toledo, the Hobbses came to be friends with two artists J. Ernest and Grace Dean.  The Deans studied printmaking in Munich, Germany and they introduced Morris to printmaking.  The emphasis on line drawing and its close similarity to architectural work satisfied both Morris’ passion for art and yet not stray far from his professional training in architecture.  As a printmaker, Morris Henry Hobbs participated in the Second Etching Revival.

In the early to mid-twentieth century, the Second Etching Revival represented renewed interest in fine art prints and fostered the proliferation of etching clubs in America.  The clubs organized traveling exhibitions, lecture series, and demonstrations.  Hobbs actively participated and exhibited with the Toledo Society of Etchers, the Chicago Society of Etchers, and the Miniature Print Society.  He later became a founding member of the Louisiana Society of Etchers.  Ignoring the emerging Modernist movement of the early twentieth century, Hobbs preferred to work in a representational style, following in the tradition of James McNeil Whistler and John Taylor Arms.

Initially inspired by quaint, picturesque vistas of the older quarters and street life of European cities and towns, Hobbs followed in the footsteps of James Abbott McNeill Whistler in his focus on rundown neighborhoods, alleys, and waterfronts as his subjects, rather than favored historic monuments and city centers.  His training as an architect and influence by the architectural prints of John Taylor Arms can be seen in his focus on buildings and their faithful renderings.  His attention to detail and texture, accurate proportions and sensitivity to building nuances again goes back to his architect’s training.

In 1925 Hobbs moved his family back to Chicago where he worked as a draftsman for the Craven and Mager architectural firm.  The firm closed shortly thereafter, and then the Great Depression hit.  Hobbs was out of work and decided to devote himself solely to art focusing primarily on printmaking.  He took classes, returned to France on an extended sketching trip, and exhibited his prints.  In 1931, he rented a studio in the Tree Studio Building.

Hobbs earned recognition as an artist with accolades as having his works printed in art books during the early 1930s.  In 1936 he was selected by the Associated American Artists of New York for their subscription print series, and he was given a solo show of his architectural views and nudes prints by the Smithsonian Institution.

Morris H. Hobbs participated in the American Scene Movement during the 1930s in which he turned away from European cities as subjects and looked instead to American cities.  It was at this time when Hobbs made a sketching trip to New Orleans in 1938.  Charmed and intrigued by the city’s Vieux Carré district, Hobbs eventually settled in the city and began a period of actively recording the facades, courtyards, and streets of the eighteenth and nineteenth century architecture of the city center.  The “Old New Orleans” series became an artistic endeavor that would earn him national acclaim.

Amid the positive reviews of his Old New Orleans series of prints, Hobbs returned in 1939 bringing two presses with him.  He closed his studio in Chicago and established himself in the local art community, joining the New Orleans Art League among other clubs and organizations.  Morris opened a studio in the Art League building on Toulouse Street in New Orleans and concentrated on expanding his Old New Orleans series.  He envisioned his series as a way to document the colonial architecture of the city and as a means to advocate for the preservation of the historic neighborhood.  It was also during this time that Morris became an early leader in the popular trend among printmakers to create miniature prints.  In the 1940s, Hobbs returned to architecture to supplement his income.  At some point in the early 1940s, Morris must have visited central Mexico, Taxco, Guerrero to be specific, where he made sketches of the colonial town.  William Spratling, another former New Orleans resident and architect, had a silver jewelry workshop in Taxco at this time and it may have been the link that brought Hobbs to Mexico.

Morris Henry Hobbs worked not only in etchings, but also in drypoint (especially for miniatures and nudes) and pencil drawing, inks, and watercolors.  During the 1950s, he became an avid collector of tropical bromeliad plants which he kept in a greenhouse at his home in Mandeville on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.  He was working on a book of botanically accurate watercolor paintings of bromeliads and birds when he died after a brief illness on January 24, 1967.

Subject/Index Terms

Architecture, Church -- Mexico
Architecture, Colonial -- Mexico
Artists -- Mexico
Cathedrals -- Mexico
Charles Longabaugh
Cities and towns -- Mexico
Gordon Abbott
Guanajuato, Mexico
James Swann
John F. Swalley
Merida, Mexico
Morris Henry Hobbs
Ralph Fletcher Seymour
Social life and customs -- Mexico
Taxco, Mexico

Administrative Information

Repository: The Latin American Library at Tulane

Access Restrictions: Open to the public. No known restrictions.

Related Materials: Kheel, Claudia. 1994. Morris Henry Hobbs: Printmaker, 1892-1967, Master's thesis, Department of Art, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana. University Microfilms, Ann Arbor. For more information please see http://louisdl.louislibraries.org/cdm/ref/collection/p16313coll12/id/4341.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],

Box 1Add to your cart.
Series 1: Etchings and Drawings by Morris Henry HobbsAdd to your cart.
Item 1: Calle de Guadalupe, Taxco, Mexico, 1942Add to your cart.
Etching, signed, 4 1/2 x 3 7/16 inches. Edition 169, with 169 prints made (1942-1946). The artist's wife, Judy (Alice Seddon Hobbs), wearing a plaid skirt, appears in the foreground, in the year of their marriage.
Item 1a: Calle de Guadalupe, 1942Add to your cart.
Pencil drawing, unsigned, 13 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches
Item 2: Calle del Arco, Taxco, Mexico, 1942Add to your cart.
Etching, signed, 5 x 4 1/16 inches. Edition 30, with 13 prints made (1942-1946).
Item 2a: Calle del Arco, Taxco, Mexico, 1942Add to your cart.
Brush and ink, signed, 12 x 9 inches
Item 3: Old Church Doorway, Taxco, 1942Add to your cart.
Drypoint, signed, 7 1/16 x 4 inches. "TAXCO, 1942" etched in plate. Edition 25, with 9 prints made (1942-1946).
Item 3a: Taxco, Guerrero, Mexico, 1942Add to your cart.
Study for the Old Church Doorway.  Brush and ink, signed, 12 1/4 x 9 inches
Item 4: Plazuela Bernal, Taxco, Mexico, 1942Add to your cart.
Drypoint, signed, 11 15/16 x 8 15/16 inches. Title etched in plate. Edition 30, with 23 prints made (1942-1946). 2 copies
Item 4a: Plazuela Bernal, Taxco, Mexico, 1942Add to your cart.
Pencil drawing, unsigned, 12 x 9 inches
Item 4b: Study for Plazuela Bernal, Taxco, Mexico, 1942Add to your cart.
Brush and ink, signed, 12 x 9 inches
Item 5: Cathedral of Taxco, Mexico, 1942Add to your cart.
Drypoint, signed, 11 3/4 x 9 inches. "1942 TAXCO CATEDRAL DEL CALLE DE VERA CRUZ" etched in the plate. Edition 30, with 17 prints made (1942-1944).
Item 5a: Taxco Cathedral del Calle de Vera Cruz, 1942Add to your cart.
Pencil drawing, unsigned, 12 1/2 x 9 inches
Item 6: Calle de Hamburgo, Mexico, 1942Add to your cart.
Pencil drawing, signed, 7 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches
Item 7: Calle de Liverpool, Mexico, 1942Add to your cart.
Pencil drawing, unsigned, 10 1/2 x 8 inches
Item 8: Taxco, Guerrero, Mexico , 1942Add to your cart.
Façade of church. Pencil drawing, unsigned, 9 1/2 x 7 inches
Series 2: Works By Other ArtistsAdd to your cart.
Item 1: Moonlight and Lanterns, No. 2 by Gordon C. AbbottAdd to your cart.
Bromide photograph, signed on mat, 9 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches, stamped on the back, "Gordon C. Abbott, P.S.A., Calle de las Delicias, 3, Taxco, Gro., Mexico"
Item 2: Gossip and Works, No. 3 by Gordon C. AbbottAdd to your cart.
Bromide photograph, signed on mat, 9 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches, stamped on the back, "Gordon C. Abbott, P.S.A., Calle de las Delicias, 3, Taxco, Gro., Mexico"
Item 3: Street in Guanajuato by John F. SwalleyAdd to your cart.
Etching, signed and inscribed, 6 7/8 x 5 inches
Item 4: Street in Taxco by James SwannAdd to your cart.
Etching, signed and inscribed, 7 x 4 3/4 inches
Item 5: Xochimilco Gate by Charles LongabaughAdd to your cart.
Etching, signed and inscribed, 5 x 4 inches
Item 6: Merida, Yucatan by Ralph Fletcher SeymourAdd to your cart.
Etching, signed and inscribed, 11 3/8 x 8 1/4 inches

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