Description: A Holiday in Chinatown
Artist: Paul Frenzeny
Medium: Wood engraving
Narrative: An Art student in Paris with a great penchant for travel, Paul Frenzeny served as a French artillery officer in Mexico during Maximillian’s regime before moving on to New York where he published a series of sketches in Harper’s Weekly. He was commissioned by the Harper brothers with his friend French artist Jules Tavernier for a coast-to-coast sketching tour of the American frontier in 1873. Once in California, he fell under the spell of the country’s beauty and of San Francisco’s Bohemian life. Frenzeny always found great interest in the very diverse cultures that compose the U.S., and he was particularly inspired by San Francisco’s Chinatown and its colorful celebrations. The present sketch shows his mastery: it captures the upper part of the alley where much of the decorations and activity took place while still providing a glimpse of a few representative Chinese and American figures in the foreground. Frenzeny’s sketches always represented multiple actions, striking faces and figures … and a great selection of hats.