Charles Turzak, Biography in Woodcuts of Benjamin Franklin


A Classic Lincoln Artist On Benjamin Franklin

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Charles Turzak’s Biography in Woodcuts of Benjamin Franklin, includes 80 woodcuts with a simple narrative text by his wife Florence (a graduate of Northwestern University’s journalism school).  Turzak’s art recounts Franklin’s progress from runaway apprentice to Founding Father.

Turzak showed a strong interest in art early in life. As a child he would draw cartoons and carved small objects from peach pits. Charles was apprenticed to a neighbor, who was also an English cabinetmaker.  In 1920, he was a $100 prize from the Purina company, and parlayed the prize to gain admission to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He soon became a freelance commercial artist. 

During the Depression he was one of the first artists to participate in WPA projects.  He produced murals in Chicago’s main post office and elsewhere.  His most famous work became the book Lincoln: Biography in Woodcuts, which he produced at and during the Century of Progress fair in Chicago (1933).

Because of the success of his Lincoln book, Turzak produced this Biography in Woodcuts of Benjamin Franklin.

Many of these woodcuts were featured in The Franklin Library’s book The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1985) and later in Ken Burns’ documentary on Franklin. 

Very good; lt. soil; clean throughout; owner bookplate. 

Charles Turzak. BIOGRAPHY IN WOODCUTS OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN  NY:   Covici Friede Publishers, (1935).  1st.; Signed; Limited Edition 1327/1550.  Folio 8-7/8″ x 11-1/8″; illustrated flyleaves.