A Makimono featuring a young artist’s idiosyncratic rendering of a round-the-world voyage

Theodore Sizer, artist, [on cover:] A MAKIMONO BY Sizer / [on title page:] Round the World 1911-1912. [Boston: Porter E. Sargent, 1912?]
54-panel concertina book, 5” high and opening to approx. 320” long. Brown paper wraps printed front and back with title and artist’s monogram. Contents with very occasional mis-folding and a paper flaw along one fold, but about excellent. Wraps nearly separated at fold and quite fragile.

A rare makimono featuring a charming graphic rendering of a 1911-12 trip around the world, probably by a student at Mr. Sargent’s Travel School for Boys. 

The travelogue, rendered in the style of a Japanese makimono, or folding hand scroll, uses a continuous line-drawn landscape with captions including dates, modes of transport, and locations. The account begins on October 11, 1911, when the boys departed New York on the S.S. Cleveland, and ends with their landing at San Francisco on May 11, 1912 and boarding a train back East. In between they made well over a hundred stops in Europe, Africa and Asia, traveling by steamship, steamer, train and even at one point sailboat.

The front and rear wraps bears an artist’s monogram reading “Sizer”. This was likely Theodore Sizer (1892-1967), who went on to become a professor of art history at Yale and Director of the Yale University Art Gallery. In 1963 Sizer was named the University’s first “pursuivant of arms”, or heraldic officer, apparently at the time the only person in the country to hold that position. (New York Times, May 31, 1964) In 1911-12, the years covered in the makimono, Sizer was a student at the Boston-based Travel School for Boys, founded by Porter Edward Sargent (1872-1951) and operated from ca. 1904-1914.

“Mr. Sargent’s Travel School for Boys[.] A combination of school and travel. A wonderfully instructive method of teaching which uses the world as the schoolroom. Latin and Roman History, German, French, English History are studied, each in its own environment. Just think of the wonderful possibilities for your boy in this plan!” (Collier’s, June 4, 1910, p. 28)

A rare, wonderful and idiosyncratic relic of an interesting educational experiment as experienced by a young artist.

OCLC #905715838 (2 copies, both at Harvard, as of April 2020).