China: A Friendship Map
Pictorial Map by Louise Jefferson: 1948
China: A Friendship Map
China: A Friendship Map detail China: A Friendship Map detail
China: A Friendship Map detail China: A Friendship Map detail
China: A Friendship Map detail
Louise E. Jefferson (1908-2002) (after)
China: A Friendship Map
Friendship Press, Inc., New York: 1948
Color-process print
Price on Request

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Pictorial map of China made the year before the Communist revolution led by Mao Zedong. Cartography is simple, with major cities and rivers indicated, also labeled with regional products such as silk, soy beans and tea. Numerous small illustrations depict Chinese people at work or engaged in cultural activities, as well as typical architecture and modes of transportation, traditional dress and decorative arts. The illustrations are accompanied by brief captions with facts about Chinese history and daily life. Beneath the map title are four portraits. The map is enclosed in a decorative linear border design that incorporates small illustrations.

The map was done by Louise E. Jefferson, a prominent African-American illustrator and designer for several decades in New York City. It is one of a series of maps of different places around the world published by the Friendship Press of the National Council of Churches. As Art Director of the Friendship Press, Jefferson illustrated many of the maps they published. These maps generally promote peace, tolerance and cooperation, with historical illustrations as well as illustrations relating to Christian institutions.

Louise E. Jefferson was an illustrator, art director, calligrapher, cartographer and photographer. During her long career, she produced a large body of work as an illustrator, graphic designer and photographer, both as a freelancer and as the art director of the Friendship Press, the publishing agent of the National Council of Churches, a post she held from 1942 to 1968. She may have been the first African-American woman to work as an art director in the publishing industry.

Jefferson was born in Washington, D.C. and moved to New York City to study art at Hunter College and Columbia University. There she came into contact with the artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance, and in 1935 was a founding member of the Harlem Artist's Guild. Her first illustrated book, We Sing America (1936) created a stir when she depicted black and white children playing together; indeed, the book was banned by the governor of Georgia. Ironically, Jefferson later recounted that in her career as an artist, she personally encountered more sexism as a woman than racism as an African-American. Besides designing and illustrating books for publishers such as Viking and Doubleday, she produced numerous cultural pictorial maps for the Friendship Press emphasizing world cooperation and ethnic and racial tolerance, including Africa, China, and Native Americans in the United States. Jefferson frequently worked for African-American organizations, including the NAACP, for whom she designed holiday seals over a period of about 40 years. She also wrote and illustrated The Decorative Arts of Africa (1973), based on her travels in Africa during the previous decade, some of which were supported by grants from the Ford Foundation.

Full publication information: Published by Friendship Press, Inc., 156 Fifth Avenue, New York. Printed in the United States of America. Copyright, 1948, by Friendship Press, Inc.

Condition: Fine, the colors very bright, apparently not exposed to light. Original folds, as issued, flattened, and backed on Japanese paper, also closing a short marginal tear.

References:

"Extravagant Crowd: Louise E. Jefferson." Yale University Beinecke Library. http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/cvvpw/gallery/jefferson.html (25 October 2011).

Smith, Jessie Carney. Notable Black Women. pp. 328-330. Online at Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=ssMBzqrUpjwC (25 October 2011).