; Artist UnknownArtist NationalityAmerican (North American)Object Creation Datecirca 1850-1899Medium & Supportsteel pen drawing with black and brown ink on heavy cream wove paperDimensions
16.9 x 26 9/16 in. (43.02 x 67.47 cm)Credit LineGift of The Daniel and Harriet Fusfeld Folk Art CollectionLabel copy
Steel pen drawing with inks on paper
Gift of the Daniel and Harriet Fusfeld Folk Art Collection, 2002/1.181
Over the course of the nineteenth century, penmanship became an increasingly important sign of social status: a professional credit for boys and an aspect of refinement for girls. The Spencerian system of ornamental script, founded by Platt Roger Spencer (1800–1864), instructed students in the use of calligraphic techniques to form both letters and images. Animal-shaped calligraphic exercises like Leaping Stag were particularly thought to induce excitement for learning in young boys who might have trouble with calligraphic tasks.
Without widely established public schools, most nineteenth-century Americans learned penmanship through specialized calligraphy schools or from itinerant master teachers who traveled from town to town. While penmanship was valued differently for boys and girls, it was also a democratic art: anyone willing to apply themselves could learn.
(Out of the Ordinary, 2010)Primary Object Classification Drawing Primary Object Typeline drawingCollection AreaWesternRights
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