Headlines of Yore

Cheeky 1937 caricature depicts one of Philly’s best-known art collectors as a circus ringmaster

Lou Hirshman does Albert C. Barnes.

A black and white copy of Hirshman's caricature of Albert C. Barnes was provided to WHYY by the artist's son

A black and white copy of Hirshman's caricature of Albert C. Barnes was provided to WHYY by the artist's son

Lou Hirshman

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Artist Lou Hirshman, a Ukrainian native and Philadelphian who once headed the faculty at the Fleisher Art Memorial, was known for his work in caricature. He had a unique approach to creating his exaggerated portraits, using collage to incorporate found objects that often added layers and nuance to his commentary.

Hirshman’s work is well known — his caricature of Albert Einstein is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art — but before his death in 1986, it wasn’t always appreciated. He was also prolific, so many of his works may be lost to history.

One of Hirshman’s more interesting pieces recently resurfaced, thanks to reporting around a 1937 headline: the portrait of Albert C. Barnes.

The caricature depicts the famed and sometimes controversial arts patron, whose collection and work graces the Parkway museum carrying his name, as circus ringmaster P.T. Barnum.

How did the worlds of Barnes and Hirshman intersect, and what does the caricature mean? Explore the story further in the thread below.

Want some more? Explore other Headlines of Yore stories.

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