There is an exhibition entitled TheComicArtofJosephHémard running at the Yale Law Library through December 15, with a talk on Hémard's career scheduled for Friday, October 5. For those unfamiliar with Hémard, he was a prolific French illustrator of the 20th century. Mostly unknown outside of his native country, his work certainly is worthy of a much larger following. He was capable of adding humor to even the driest of subjects.
Joseph Hémard was born in 1880 and lived until 1961. He was an artist who used his skills in numerous venues, but it was book illustrations for which he became famous. His illustrations could be found in logical places, such as children's books, or a humorous “autobiographical” essay he once wrote. However, it is the unexpected places that explains why the work of a humorous illustrator would show up in a law library exhibition. He illustrated a pharmacological manual, math and grammar textbooks, and various reference works. He also illustrated law books. His entertaining drawings can be found in a 1925 penal code, or stranger yet, a tax code. One would think nothing could ever be funny about a tax code, but as the illustration on this page proves, Hémard managed to find a way to bring humor to even the most unpleasant of subjects.
The exhibition is curated by Farley P. Katz, a tax attorney from San Antonio, and Michael Widener, Rare Book Librarian at the Lillian Goldman Law Library. Mr. Katz developed one of the best collections of Hémard's work and has made several contributions to the law library's collection. On display are eight of the 183 illustrations from Hémard's TaxCode, donated by Mr. Katz to the library, two other such law books, and 19 other titles from Katz's personal collection.
Mr. Katz will also be presenting an illustrated talk on Hémard in Room 128 of the Yale Law School at 127 Wall Street in New Haven, Connecticut, at 1:00 p.m., Friday, October 5. The talk is free and open to the public.
You can read more about the exhibition and talk at blogs.law.yale.edu/blogs/rarebooks.