Robert Riggs (1896 - 1970)
Printmaker and illustrator Robert Riggs was born in Decatur, Illinois and first studied art at Millikin University there, moving to New York and the Art Students League in 1915 when he received a scholarship underwriting two years of study. Riggs subsequently joined the advertising firm A. W. Ayer & Company of Philadelphia; during World War I, he served in France with a Red Cross hospital unit, an experience that strongly influenced the tone of his mature print work. While there, Riggs also studied at the Académie Julian. Returning to Philadelphia, in addition to his work at A. W. Ayer, Riggs also worked as a freelance magazine illustrator. In 1924, he traveled extensively throughout Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. He was strongly influenced by the work of George Bellows producing a series of boxing prints in his own style, followed by a series of lithographs depicting circus-related subjects and, in 1940, four lithographs dealing with modern medical practice commissioned by Smith, Kline, and French.
Of the eighty-four prints Riggs made over two decades, most were produced in the mid-1930s. Riggs gave up printmaking around 1950 but continued to produce advertising illustrations for major corporate clients. He was elected to associate membership in the National Academy of Design in 1939 and bercame a full member in 1946. Between 1961 and 1963, Riggs taught at the Philadelphia College of Art.
Lithograph, ca. 1940; edition of approximately 50. Image size 18-15/16” x 14-3/8”; sheet size 23-5/8” x 19-3/4”. Titled and signed in pencil by the artist in the lower margin. A fine impression of this important lithograph on Rives GCM. Minor wrinkles at edges well away from the sight area. The dramatic scene shows the interior of the Emergency Ward at The Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia, one of four lithographs commissioned by Smith, Kline, and French Laboratories depicting contemporary medical practice. It was first exhibited at The Whitney Museum in its 1942-43 exhibition of Contemporary American Art. This full-sized lithograph and its three companions are very scarce, not to be confused with the promotional portfolio of signed 11" x 8" copies in a larger edition for promotional distribution to physicians.