nd [ca.1910s?]. Pen & ink drawing with a watercolor wash, approx. 22 x 14 in., matted, glazed and framed. Signed by W.A. Rogers in the lower right corner. Five vignettes of Washington life sketched on a single sheet, each with an inked caption title: "Baggage-Express Men," "The Monument," "A Typical Sandwich Man," "On Pennsylvania Avenue," and "The Market and Glimpse of The New Post-Office." The sketch of the Washington Monument includes train tracks and a steaming train. The largest sketch in the group is the Pennsylvania Avenue scene prominently depicting a well-dress young woman riding a bicycle down the street, the Capitol dome in the background, a streetcar and several horse-drawn carriages traveling in the vicinity, and in the background, the African American working class taking care of the tasks which kept the city operating. An African American man shovels snow from the street and another pushes a two-wheeled cart. The scene with the Post Office as a backdrop pictures an open-air livestock market, with wagons selling poultry, veal and pork, with live animals on display. An African American man, bundled against the cold, stands on a scale holding a calf while the butcher calculates weights. The African American sandwich man tends several steaming pots on his four-wheeled cart, one of the hard working baggage express men has a peg leg. Item #61482
William Allen Rogers was an illustrator and political cartoonist, born in Springfield, Ohio in 1854. A self-taught artist, his first cartoons were published in a Dayton, Ohio newspaper when he was just 14. Rogers succeeded Thomas Nast at Harper's Weekly in 1877, and for the next 25 years he produced their political cartoon covers. Following his job at Harper's he went to work at the New York Daily Herald as an editorial cartoonist for 20 years, and finished his career at the Washington Post retiring in 1926. A short biographical sketch of Rogers by Perriton Maxwell, entitled "William Allen Rogers, Greatest of Present Day Cartoonist," published in Pearson's Magazine in November 1909, notes: "His thought is crystal-clear, his humor cleanly American, his style as swift as gun-fire.... Rogers could win his way comfortably as a water-colorist and stand in the front rank as an illustrator and monochromist were he to abandon cartooning." This is a wonderful example of his range as an illustrator.
Although the drawing is undated, there are some indications from the subject matter that it was done by Rogers in the first or second decade of the 20th Century. The "new" post office building on Pennsylvania Avenue was completed in 1899 and used as Washington's main post office until 1914. The train tracks which ran along the Mall were taken up and the last station closed while Theodore Roosevelt was President. Rogers may have created this illustration for a magazine article, but we have been unable to discover whether it was ever published.