The First School Year in Drawing: A Series of Stigmographical Exercises.
The First School Year in Drawing: A Series of Stigmographical Exercises.
The First School Year in Drawing: A Series of Stigmographical Exercises.
The First School Year in Drawing: A Series of Stigmographical Exercises.
The First School Year in Drawing: A Series of Stigmographical Exercises.
The First School Year in Drawing: A Series of Stigmographical Exercises.
The First School Year in Drawing: A Series of Stigmographical Exercises.
The First School Year in Drawing: A Series of Stigmographical Exercises.
The First School Year in Drawing: A Series of Stigmographical Exercises.
The First School Year in Drawing: A Series of Stigmographical Exercises.
The First School Year in Drawing: A Series of Stigmographical Exercises.
Forbriger, Arthur (1832-1878)

The First School Year in Drawing: A Series of Stigmographical Exercises.


First thus. Cincinnati, OH: Jones Brothers & Co., ca. 1878.

Brown embossed cloth hardcover, 7 x 11 inches. [6p], 12 plates. Signature and shorthand on the front pastedown (dated 1880) of James du Shane, then school superintendent in Madison, Indiana. A book of drawing exercises based on the principles of Friedrich Froebel and Johann Pestalozzi (Anschauung), and with particular debt to Franz Carl Hillardt. Part of a system utilizing dot-gridded paper and secured drawing tablet (the shape of which is given in the plates). Designed, marketed, and implemented by Arthur Forbriger, Superintendent of Drawing in Cincinnati Public Schools (Ohio).

Forbriger was born in 1832 and immigrated to the US from Saxony in 1853. It's possible he may have been a kindergarten student of Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852), but was almost certainly a pupil of Franz Carl Hillardt (1804-1871), who was a private educator to noble families of Bohemia until 1854. Hillardt first published Stigmographie. Das Schreiben und Zeichnen nach Punkten (Stigmography, or the writing and drawing of dots) in Vienna, 1839. It is from this volume that Forbriger based his "stigmographical exercises."

Though similar Frobelian techniques can be found in other period systems (like Bartholomew's Drawing Cards), Forbriger directly adapted Hillardt's method, anglicizing his terminology, and possibly even copying the tablet device that Hillardt patented in Vienna in 1858, and was in common use there.

Forbriger's system was criticized by artists, educators, and bureaucrats who insinuated that stigmography may be popular in Austria, but was not suited for the American classroom. As Superintendent of Drawing at Cincinnati Public schools, Forbriger's method was curriculum. When student artwork from across the nation was exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial, Secretary of Education Isaac Edwards Clark remarked, "I am inclined to think that all the drawing in the kindergarten, done by this method or in general conformity to it, is worse than none... The drawings adapted to the stigmographical method are so monotonously rigid and oftentimes so ugly that they must tend to vitiate the taste of the children obliged to look at them."

Whether in marketing or execution, the pedagogical principles underlying the stigmographic method seemed to have been lost in Forbriger's articulation. This copy—bearing the ownership signature of an Indiana superintendent who does not appear to have made much use of it—attests to its limited reception. Advertisements for his materials appeared with mostly lukewarm endorsements in some education magazines, based on the scarcity of any Forbriger material (2 copies in OCLC and no commercial record), his success failed to extend beyond his Cincinnati district.