[Original Artwork for Eastward Sweeps the Current: A Saga of the Polynesian Seafarers by Dan Sweeney for Alida Sims Malkus].
A saga of Polynesian seafarers
Seventy-five original pen and ink illustrations by Dan Sweeney created for the 1937 adventure novel about how Indians came to the New World, Eastward Sweeps the Current, A Saga of the Polynesian Seafarers by Alida Sims Malkus.
This almost complete suite of book illustrations is comprised of the headpieces (or headbands) and tailpieces for Malkus’ novel. The dust jacket credit for the published book notes that “Dan Sweeney has drawn eighty delicate and beautiful pen and ink illustrations that greatly aid the reader in visualizing the written word.”
The headband or chapter-heading illustrations depict the characters and scenes from the novel as well as showing Mayan and Incan architectural carvings.
Many of the smaller tailpieces, intended as page fillers and end of chapter decorations, show objects of Polynesian anthropological interest. In addition to more architectural details, they depict tools, jewelry, masks, animals and other natural objects, and household utensils.
The original headband illustrations have title captions and make reference to specific chapter headings. The original tailpieces are simply numbered for the appropriate chapter. A comparison of these captions and chapter references with the published book (a copy of which is included here) reveals some editorial changes made after the artist drew the illustrations.
For example, Dan Sweeney’s illustration, captioned “Headband Chapter 24 — ‘The Duplicity of Punapau’,” which shows a young man with a llama, was actually published as the headband for Chapter XXVII (27), entitled “A Bride for the Inca.” In the published book, Chapter XXVI (26) is titled “The Duplicity of Punapau,” but the original headband illustration artwork for that chapter is captioned by Sweeney “Headband Chapter XXVII — A Bride for the Inca — The Lord Yupanqui.”
In some instances the artist’s illustrations and captions and the published book are in agreement, but most often they they not. Tailpieces too, as intended by the artist, were often re-purposed by the publisher and moved to different chapters.
Sweeney’s illustrations and tailpiece vignette drawings augment the Polynesian adventure novel’s plot.
The accurate anthropological and architectural drawings especially lend verisimilitude to the story. Image and text helped educate the public who were becoming familiar with Polynesian and related Central and South American culture via the discovery of the Incan settlement of Machu Picchu in 1911 and the popular Polynesian, South Pacific adventure film Mutiny on the Bounty, released in 1935.
Description: [Original Artwork for Eastward Sweeps the Current: A Saga of the Polynesian Seafarers by Dan Sweeney for Alida Sims Malkus].
[Np. c. 1937]. 75 Original pen and ink drawings on 44 cream-colored artist’s drawing boards; 11¼ x 14¼ inches. Illustrations captioned in ink; some highlighted in white ink. With 3 small (actual published size) printed headband proofs. One art board trimmed; one illustration excised; overall, very good. [sold with:] Malkus, Alida Sims, Eastward Sweeps the Current. Chicago, Philadelphia, New York: The John C. Winston Company (1937). xvii, , 394pp. Blue cloth. 8¾ x 6 inches. Dust jacket. Very good.