STATEN ISLAND, NY – An unusual display of antique prints at the National Lighthouse Museum is now on display at St. George’s waterfront. A program curated by Danielle Mann features landmarks of Britain, past and present, inspired by Her Royal Highness Princess Royal Anne.
The dignitary is the honorary chair of the National Lighthouse Museum’s campaign to enlighten future generations. A recent trip to Staten Island was planned but canceled due to COVID. A later date for the visit will be announced.
But the show will go on. The works of art selected by the Lighthouse Museum are on display until February 13. They are part of a collection of 300 pieces donated by Dr. Loren Graham and Dr. Patricia Albjerg Graham. The exhibition features lighthouses with a unique history, significant technical importance and sentimental value to Her Royal Highness.
The prints, which date from the 1800s, are original woodcuts, aquatint prints or lithographs, or press clippings of the time. Many prints also feature hand painted watercolor elements to make the pieces unique.
Works range from maps, engineering plans and artistic renderings of lighthouses and their surroundings. Some of the headlights on display no longer exist or have since been modified from their original design.
Dr. Loren Graham is Professor Emeritus of the History of Science at MIT and Harvard University and is a prolific author. One of Graham’s books is about the history of Michigan’s Grand Island North Light, which he bought over 50 years ago when it was in ruins. The lighthouse has since been restored to immaculate condition. During this process he became interested in antique engravings of lighthouses and accumulated over 300 of them, which he donated to the National Lighthouse Museum.
Dr. Patricia Albjerg Graham was the first female Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is the Charles Warren Research Professor of American Educational History, Emeritus at Harvard. Aquatint prints are made using an acid-etched copper plate.
The plate is covered with an acid-resistant resin in the desired areas to create shade and tone. After heat is applied to seal the resin to the plate, the plate is placed in a bath of nitric acid. The plate is then inked and sent through a printing press on damp paper, creating multiple copies from one plate. Then the color is added using colored plates or, as in the case of some of the old prints on display, are colored by hand with watercolor paints.
The National Lighthouse Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located at 200 The Promenade at Lighthouse Point. It is next to the Staten Island Ferry. The museum can be contacted at [email protected] or 718-390-0040.