Feast Your Eyes: Floating Pies

The following is a guest post by Jan Grenci, Reference Specialist – Posters, Prints and Photographs Division.

If you like history and you like pie, this poster could easily become one of your favorites. When Emanuel Leutze finished painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware” in 1851 he probably never imagined his work being adapted for an advertisement. In 1947, the Lloyd J. Harriss Pie Company did just that.

Lloyd J. Harriss Pies. Poster by Rocco Navigato, 1947. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.12815

Rocco Navigato designed this advertising poster with slices of cherry pie taking the place of the chunks of ice floating in the Delaware River. Navigato was a Chicago-based graphic designer. From the mid 1930s to the mid 1940s, he worked for the Illinois Federal Art Project, a part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), as an administrator and on the Index of American Design.

Take a look at this reproduction of Leutze’s painting to see how closely Navigato followed the original.

Washington crossing the Delaware. Photo of a painting by Emanuel Leutze. Detroit Publishing Company, c1907. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a26226

In my mind, the only possible improvement Navigato could have made on his clever design would be scoops of vanilla ice cream on each slice – a culinary reference to Leutze’s chunks of ice. Comparing the two works, I cannot tell a lie, I prefer the one with cherry pie!

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5 Comments

  1. Hiram Sanchez
    July 3, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    This is offensive on so many levels. Taking a profound and historically significant painting and cheapening it into a piece of garbage. Or maybe “junk” as in junk food is a more appropriate description.

  2. Tom Bober
    July 4, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Such an interesting post! It makes me want to search the LOC collection for other well known American symbols used in advertising. Is there an image of Uncle Sam hawking furniture or the Liberty Bell calling people to dinner at a well known restaurant?

  3. Theresa Defino
    July 5, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Thank you for this fun and interesting “slice” of American art history!

  4. Jane Carter
    July 7, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    So much fun and a nice change from the same-old same-old commentary we get around the Fourth of July–thanks!

  5. Karen Stuart
    July 8, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Very clever! A visual pun on Washington and cherries, and a very popular, very American exaggeration/tall tale referencing American abundance. Funny, not mean or mocking.

    Leutze’s “history” paintings may be beloved images, but they’re full of ahistorical flaws. His just-off-the-boat, celebration of the first Mass “Founding of Maryland,” for example, shows an English half-timbered house just up the hill.

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