No picture has ever drawn me in like “Alice in Wonderland” by Ayres Houghtelling (b. 1912). Alice is pictured at least 24 times in this 19″ x 25.5″ print as she makes her way through all the major events of the book. My mother inherited the print from her stepmother, and I admired it so much that I purchased one on eBay many years ago. This print was created in 1947, and was the centerfold in Colliers magazine. I love how Alice in Wonderland has inspired such a range of artists and performers, and can’t wait to see the new Alice in Wonderland movie.
Houghtelling is a man of principle. This March 23, 1939 article from the Ottawa Citizen tells how he snubbed the Italian government by smearing blood on a mural he’d just painted that included a hand “crushing a mass of nude humanity, and a key figure – a helmeted nude of little or no beauty – executing one of those extended arm salutes.” The Italian government threatened to remove the art exhibit if he didn’t “remove Mussolini” from the mural. Houghtelling responded, “I cannot change this mural, which I consider a masterpiece dedicated to an American free press.” I also found another print by Houghtelling on eBay that depicts the Life of Christ. I’ll blog about that on Easter, so stay tuned. In case you’re looking for your own copy of these, the words at the bottom say “Art-Told Tales” and “Beck Gravure.”