September 2014 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Fighting Tuberculosis with Art

In 1931, the Michigan Tuberculosis Association issued four lithograph posters meant to encourage in children the healthful effects of the outdoors. Tuberculosis--a.k.a. consumption in the nineteenth century--is an airborne disease caused by bacteria that attacks the lungs and transmitted by coughing, sneezing, even laughing, i.e., close living. Thus it had long been held that fresh air was, if not an antidote for the contagion, then at least a form of prevention. (A semi-efficacious vaccine has been available since the 1920s, but it is rarely used in the U.S., which relies instead on antibiotic treatment.)

The vibrant posters, which feature wild animals eating, playing, and resting in nature, were designed by the foremost animal illustrator of the time, Charles Livingston Bull (1874-1932). Bull's illustrations regularly appeared in publications including the Saturday Evening Post and McClure's and in books alongside the writing of Jack London. Lowry-James Rare Prints & Books offers three of these color lithographs in a new catalogue devoted to the work of Bull, also containing several of his decorated bindings and original charcoal and pen works on paper.

Cougars: Play Out of Doors The Year Round. Based on his original watercolor, Mother Cougar and Three Young, 1931.

Deer: Eat for Strength Grace - Vigor. Based on his original watercolor, Doe and Fawns browsing on Lily Pads, 1931.

6665.jpg Rams: Sleep Long Hours in the Cool, Clean Air. Based on Bull's watercolor, pen and ink of Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheet, in the collection of Oradell Free Public Library in Oradell, NJ.