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Edward Larocque Tinker:

An Inventory of his Collection of José Guadalupe Posada in the Art Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Collector: Tinker, Edward Larocque, 1883-1968
Title: Edward Larocque Tinker Collection of José Guadalupe Posada
Dates: 1900-1943, undated (bulk 1900-1920)
Extent: 4 oversize boxes, 4 oversize folders (189 items)
Abstract: The Edward Larocque Tinker Collection of José Guadalupe Posada is a part of Tinker’s large collection of Latin American history materials held at the Ransom Center. The bulk of the collection is comprised of 132 broadsides and sheets of corridos and other songs.
Access:

Open for Research. Access to items in the Ransom Center Art Collection requires advance notice.




Acquisition:

Gift, 1959

Processed by:

Helen Young, 2010

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center


José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) was a printmaker and draftsman considered to be the founder of the satirical print tradition in Latin America. He is best known for his calaveras: the costumed skeletons portraying politicians, heroes, and common people, originally published in broadsheets sold on Mexico’s Day of the Dead.

Posada was born February 2, 1852, in the city of Aguascalientes; he was one of nine children of Germán Posada, a baker, and Petra Aguilar. As a child he worked in his uncle Manuel Posada’s pottery business and received his early education from his brother Cirilo. He attended the Academía Municipal de Dibujo de Aguascalientes, where he studied with Antonio Varela.

In 1868, at age sixteen, he apprenticed to the publisher and artist José Trinidad Pedroza, where he learned lithography. In Pedroza’s shop, El Esfuerzo, Posada’s work included cigar box labels, letterheads, and diplomas, and beginning in 1871, illustrations for Pedroza’s satirical periodical El Jicote. Posada’s caricatures for El Jicote of the ex-governor Jesús Gómez Portugal created a political scandal which forced Pedroza and Posada to leave Aguascalientes. The pair relocated to León, Guanajuato, where Pedroza set up shop. Pedroza returned to Aguascalientes in 1873; Posada stayed in León to run the business and became its owner in 1876. His work output included some political works and such things as matchbook covers, logo designs, diplomas, and religious images.

In 1875, Posada married María de Jesús Vela. In 1884, he began teaching lithography and bookbinding at the Escuela de Instrucción Secundaria de León.

Posada moved to Mexico City in 1888, taking his lithography press with him. He soon discovered that he was unable to secure much work because of the slowness of the lithographic process and its relative incompatibility with letterpress. He began working with wood engraving and quickly mastered this technique, but he found it difficult to procure the large blocks of end-grain boxwood necessary for wood engraving. He thus shifted to type-metal engraving, with which he had great success. He eventually discovered the somewhat obscure technique of relief etching, a medium that allowed him the freedom of drawing directly on the plate.

Posada found work in Mexico City with the editor and publisher Ireneo Paz (grandfather of Octavio Paz), providing illustrations for various periodicals, including La Patria Ilustrada, La Revista de México, La Estación, and El Ahuizote, as well as several books and calendars.

In 1890, Posada joined the team of engravers and writers who worked for Antonio Vanegas Arroyo, a national publisher of broadsides, chapbooks, song books, and other forms of popular literature. Vanegas Arroyo (1852-1917) established his publishing house in Mexico City in 1876. In 1887, he began issuing illustrated penny broadsides on cheap paper intended for a large and mostly illiterate public. These sheets depicted sensational crimes, disasters, supernatural phenomena, physical deformities, high-society gossip, heroes, and moral stories. Illustrated corridos, the folk ballads that relate a story or event of local or national interest, were particularly popular. Corridos are usually quatrains of eight-syllable lines, often sung in a fast waltz tempo. Vanegas Arroyo commissioned Constancio Suárez to write many of these songs. The engraver Manuel Manilla, who began work with Vanegas Arroyo in 1882, provided most of the illustrations.

Manilla, born in 1830 in Mexico City, was already producing work for other publishers before starting work with Vanegas Arroyo. Manilla was an innovator with his engravings for children’s publications and popular songbooks, as well as his designs for paper-back book covers, entertainment posters, and school text illustrations. Perhaps most notably he was the first to use the calavera in popular prints.

Posada’s early work with Vanegas Arroyo was influenced by the style of the more established Manilla. (The similarity between their work during Posada’s early years in Mexico City led to the attribution to Posada of almost all of the Vanegas Arroyo broadsides. In recent years, however, several hundred works once attributed to Posada have since been identified as having been produced by Manilla.) It was not long before the quality and quantity of Posada’s work surpassed that of Manilla’s; Posada could work with great speed, briefly studying a text and then sketching out his illustration, often producing a printing plate within an hour after design conception. The demand for Manilla’s work diminished; he retired in 1892 and died in 1895.

Posada opened his own workshop around the corner from the Vanegas Arroyo publishing house. As a prolific freelance engraver he produced illustrations for various publishers. His seemingly naive style based on a strong Mexican graphic tradition was a strong influence on later twentieth-century artists, particularly the muralists. Estimates of the total number of Posada images have varied wildly, ranging from 1,600 to 20,000.

Posada died January 20, 1913, in Mexico City.


Catán, Chloe. "Posada, Juan Guadalupe." In The Oxford Companion to Western Art: Oxford Art Online. Accessed August 27, 2010. http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/opr/t118/e2109?q=Posada%2C+Juan+Guadalupe&search=quick&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit.

Dickey, Dan W. "Corridos." In Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed September 17, 2010. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lhc01

Gamboa, Fernando. Posada, Printmaker to the Mexican people. [Chicago, 1944].

García Barragán, Elisa. "Posada, José Guadalupe." In Grove Art Online: Oxford Art Online. Accessed August 27, 2010. http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T068920?q=Posada%2C+Jos%C3%A9+Guadalupe&search=quick&source=oao_gao&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit.

Manilla, Manuel. Monografía de 598 estampas de Manuel Manilla, grabador mexicano = Monograph of 598 prints by Manuel Manilla, Mexican engraver. Mexico, D.F.: Editorial RM, 2005.

Tinker, Edward Larocque. Corridos & Calaveras. Austin: University of Texas, 1961.

Tyler, Ron, ed. Posada’s Mexico. Washington: Library of Congress, 1979.


The Edward Larocque Tinker Collection of José Guadalupe Posada is a part of Tinker’s large collection of Latin American history materials held at the Ransom Center. Tinker (1883-1968), a lawyer, novelist, and historian who wrote extensively on Latin America and Louisiana, built his collection of corrido broadsides in 1943 while serving as an exchange university lecturer in Mexico for the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace. It was during his earlier adventure accompanying Pancho Villa’s army at the Battle of Celaya, that he first heard a corrido; he wrote about his excitement at hearing the soldiers around a campfire singing their new ballad about a particular heroic event of the previous day. The collection is organized into two series: I. Broadsides and Single Sheets, 1900-1942, undated; and II. Other Works, 1928-1943, undated.

Series I. Broadsides and Single Sheets comprises the bulk of the collection with 132 broadsides and sheets of corridos and other songs. These are divided by subject into twelve subseries: A. Calaveras, 1906-1915, undated; B. Politics and National Events, 1901-1942, undated; C. Disasters, 1903-1920, undated; D. Heroes and Villains, 1902-1919, undated; E. Scandals, 1901-1902, undated; F. Everyday Events, 1901-1918, undated; G. Love, 1901-1919, undated; H. Bullfights, 1905-1907; and I. Prisons, 1900-1920; J. Mexico City, 1905, undated; K. Animals, 1903-1914; and L. Volcanoes, 1918. Posada’s illustrations appear on 110 of these, Manilla’s illustrations appear on 28. Two of the broadsides were illustrated by A. Nájera, and a World War II era corrido was illustrated by Gabriel Fernández Ledesma.

Series II. Other Works is divided into two subseries: A. Portfolio of Prints, 1943; and B. Biographical Material, 1928-1943, undated. Subseries A. contains Posada’s 36 grabados, a portfolio of loose prints published from the original plates by Arsacio Vanegas Arroyo in 1943. This copy does not have the preliminary leaf of a biographical sketch in Spanish. Subseries B. includes an exhibition catalog, a screenprint poster (five copies), a newspaper spread for the 1943 Posada exhibit at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, as well as four small photographs of Vanegas Arroyo family members and two periodicals.


The Ransom Center’s Art Collection contains other works by and related to Posada:

The Boris L. Bittker gift: a group of 27 chapbooks, including twelve with cover illustrations by Posada and three with cover illustrations by Manilla; a copy of Posada’s 100 woodcuts (México, D.F.: Arsacio Vanegas Arroyo, 1947); a restrike of a calavera print; and a 1971 lottery ticket with a head-portrait of Posada;

Thomas Mabry Cranfill Collection: seven prints (a chapbook cover design and six prints on four sheets);

Russell Lee Collection: a copy of Posada’s 36 grabados (México, D.F.: Arsacio Vanegas, 1943; missing three plates).

Elsewhere in the Ransom Center, the Vertical File Collection has in its J. Frank Dobie materials 32 broadside corridos, 20 of which are illustrated. Two of these were published by Vanegas Arroyo:

Muy interesante noticia de los cuatro asesinatos cometidos por el desgraciado Antonio Sánchez, en el pueblo de Sau [sic] José Iturbide, estado de Guanajuato, quien después del horrible crimen, se comió los restos de su propio hijo [two-sided half-sheet broadside with engraved illustration by Posada, undated].

La entrada a Ciudad Juárez canción popular. Al heroico Aquiles Serdán [two-sided half-sheet broadside with two illustrations; illustrated masthead (relief etching) "Cantos populares maderistas," 1911].