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Following General Sam Houston 1793−1863
by Bernhardt Wall
June 6
August 2, 2014

Artist and historian, Bernhardt Wall was a producer of fine press books who treated a vast array of subjects, including Texas and the Southwest. Wall was born in Buffalo, New York on December 30, 1872. He began a career as a lithographic illustrator in 1889 working primarily as a commercial artist in New York and Buffalo. He soon became known as the “Postcard King” and designed over 5,000 comic cards.

In August of 1893, Wall left New York City for an extended tour of the country. While making sketches in Fort Gibson, Texas, he met and befriended Jennie Hunter, whom he married in 1899, and thereafter adopted Texas as his second home. The couple spent each spring and fall in New York, the summer in Lime Rock, Connecticut, and each winter in La Porte, Texas. In the mid-1930s he produced at least three books of copper-plate engravings during annual Texas sojourns: Following General Sam Houston, 1793-1863 (1935), Following Stephen F. Austin, Father of Texas (1936) and Following Andrew Jackson (1937).

Bernhardt Wall was unique in that he not only drew the etchings for his books, but he also printed and bound them, much like his mentor and friend Dard Hunter. In the advance flyer for this book, Wall said it would be “a one man book, having been compiled, etched, printed and bound by the etcher personally.” His books are highly collectible and may be found in private collections, libraries and universities around the world. He lived his last years in Sierra Madre, California where he died in 1956.

The etchings for this pictorial biography of Sam Houston were made while Wall was in La Porte, Texas close to the battlefield of San Jacinto. At the time, Wall had the assistance of Houston’s one surviving son, Andrew Jackson Houston. There were two editions of the book – the “San Jacinto” and the “Texas Centennial.” The “San Jacinto” is on view in this exhibition. One of the over seventy etchings features Sam entering the 1850 Nichols-Rice-Cherry House, now located at The Heritage Society in Sam Houston Park. The exhibit will also feature some personal objects from the Houston family from the Permanent Collection of The Heritage Society. The etchings in this exhibition are on loan from The Printing Museum.

The Heritage Society is funded in part by a grant from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.





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