Abril Lamarque papers, 1883-2001, bulk, 1904-1999

A Finding Aid to the Abril Lamarque Papers, 1883-2001, bulk 1904-1999, in the Archives of American Art, by Rosa M. Fernandez

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Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Eduardo Abril Lamarque was born in Cuba on August 28, 1904. His parents sent him to the United States in 1916 when he was twelve to study English and business administration. He lived with an American family in Brooklyn. Lamarque's first cartoon was published in the Boy Scout section of the New York World-Telegram and Evening Mail at age 15. Four years later he created Bla-Bla, a comic strip that appeared regularly in the New York Daily News. He is credited with creating, in the early 1920s, the first Spanish language comic strip that was not translated from English. The title cartoon character, Monguito, was a hapless soul, fully dressed in business suit and hat, who kept getting into sticky situations. Lamarque produced hundreds of these strips which were picked up by the New York based United Feature Syndicate and published daily in Spanish language newspapers throughout Latin America and the United States.

When he was twenty, Lamarque returned to Cuba and worked as the artistic director for the Havana newspaper Lunes de Diario de Cuba. He also published a booklet designed to teach the elements of caricature drawing. Lamarque returned to New York and was hired by the New York World Telegram and Evening Mail as a caricaturist. In this position, he produced political cartoons and caricatures for the paper, introducing his "radiocatures", which involved providing instructions on the radio for filling in a grid in the newspaper to produce a caricature of well-known figure in the news.

In 1927, at the age of 23, he became the first art director of Dell Publishing Company - a magazine empire that included Film Fun, I Confess, War Stories, Modern Screen, Popular Song, Spotlight, Radio Stars, Theatrical Page, Ballyhoo, and Modern Romances. He continued working there for 14 years.

In 1940-1941, Lamarque established Abril Lamarque Creations, a design firm that specialized in elegant and functional household objects and jewelry in a modernist tradition. His signature piece was the Pallettray, a serving tray modeled after an artist's palette and hand-finished in exotic woods.

Between 1941 and 1946, Lamarque became the first art director for the Sunday edition of the New York Times and redesigned the New York Times Magazine and the New York Times Book Review. Throughout his career, Lamarque designed and redesigned countless magazines and journals, including American Weekly, New York News, Metropolitan Life, Popular Science, This Week, US News-World Report, and others.

In 1948, Lamarque established a successful graphic design studio in New York that provided a full spectrum of design services, including annual reports, posters, product labeling, corporate publications, advertising, logos, package designs, and brochures. His clients included Barcardi Company, Con Edison, Ericcson Telephone, General Cable, Berlitz School, Lipton, Monsanto, and numerous magazines. In 1958, he was given the National Award for Graphic Design in packaging. His design for the annual American Red Cross poster was selected for the 1948 national Red Cross campaign.

His success and high demand as a publication art director, consultant, and designer was attributed to innovative design principles he based on the German Bauhaus School and its philosophy that promoted functional design principles. Lamarque reduced these principles to a set of guidelines suitable for page design and applied them successfully to a wide variety of publication and print layouts.

Lamarque's teaching experience began in the early 1940s with seminars and workshops he conducted for the publishing industry. He joined the faculty of New York University School of Continuing Education in 1958, where he taught until 1963, and later joined the Crowell Collier Institute and taught publication design workshops across the United States and Canada. He also gave workshops and courses at Oklahoma State School of Journalism.

Lamarque was a long-time member of the Society of Illustrators, Society of Art Directors, the Dutch Treat Club, National Press Club, and New York University Club. He was also an amateur magician and member of the Society of American Magicians. He performed magic acts for the annual Christmas party of the Society of Illustrators. Abril Lamarque died in 1999 at the age of 94.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The Abril Lamarque papers date from 1883-2001, with the bulk of the material ranging from 1904-1999, and measure 6.2 linear feet. The collection documents the life and career of Cuban-born cartoonist, designer, illustrator, graphic artist, caricaturist, and art director Abril Lamarque through printed materials, scrapbooks, writings, and original artwork. Found are files and numerous examples of his design work for the New York World-Telegram and Evening Mail, the New York Daily News, the New York Times, US News-World Report, Dell Publishing Company, and others; cartoons and caricatures by Lamarque; files regarding his writings and workshops and his memberships in various organizations. Lamarque's life-long interest in, and amateur performances of, magic are also documented to a lesser extent.

The collection consists primarily of varied printed material (1883-1989), such as magazines, newspapers, clippings, posters, and other publications that Lamarque either designed or that feature his cartoons, caricatures, or illustrations. These include clippings of the comic strip Monguito and editions of the Havana newspaper Lunes de Diario de Cuba.

Printed material also includes posters, some humorous and others more serious, such as the posters Lamarque designed for the "Aluminum for Britian" project which he was asked to discontinue by the U.S. State Department. Seven scrapbooks (1920-1959) containing clippings and articles, illustrations, scattered letters, photographs, invitations, artwork, and other materials detailing Lamarque's extensive artistic career and his amateur magic performances are also found within the collection.

In addition, the collection includes biographical information; scattered correspondence (1922-1990) and financial records (1924-1962); published and unpublished writings and lectures (1925-1999) in the form of book reviews, lectures, articles on publication design, and a typewritten manuscript Lamarque wrote in the late 1970s on the principles of publication design; original artwork such as caricatures, pencil sketches, and illustrations by Abril Lamarque, his brother Juan Abril Lamarque, and other artists; and numerous photographs (1924-1986) documenting Lamarque's private and professional life. Also found are files on Abril Lamarque Creations (1940-1945), a design studio owned by Lamarque focusing on the design and manufacture of modern decorative accessories for the home, such as serving trays, cigarette holders and jewelry. Lamarque also designed small airmail labels and sold them through Woolworth's discount stores in the 1940s.

The collection includes several subject files (1904-1996) concerning the Barcardi company, for which Lamarque designed a company logo and annual reports, the Dell Publishing Company, and Cuban caricaturist and publisher Conrado Massaguer. The material on Massaguer includes a rare 1933 edition of the New York weekly magazine, Knickerbocker Jr., filled with Massaguer's illustrations, several covers of his celebrated magazine Social, published in Havana between the years 1916 and 1938, and pages from the “Ellos” section of Social, a segment that included Massaguer's caricatures of prominent members of Cuban high society. Included is a large color poster of one of Massaguer's most famous caricatures, “Doble Nueve,” with a handwritten dedication inscribed on the right. The Subject Files also include materials collected about Mexican caricaturist Ernesto García, self-taught Polish painter Karol Kozlowski, and several other illustrators and political figures of interest to Lamarque.

Arrangement and Series Description

The Abril Lamarque papers are arranged into ten series based primarily on type of material. Within each series, materials are arranged chronologically, except for Series 8: Subject Files which is arranged in alphabetical order.

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following terms:


  • Kozlowski, Karol, 1885-1969
  • Society of American Magicians


  • Cartoonists
  • Caricatures and cartoons
  • Graphic arts
  • Magicians -- United States
  • Art directors -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Designers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Illustrators -- New York (State) -- New York

Types of Materials:

  • Caricatures
  • Works of art
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sketches
  • Photographs
  • Sketchbooks


Martha Lamarque Sarno and Lita M. Elvers assembled and donated their father's papers to the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, in 2001.

How the Collection was Processed

The Abril Lamarque papers were processed by Rosa M. Fernandez, July, 2002.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The collection is open for research. Use of unmicrofilmed material requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Abril Lamarque papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

How to Cite this Collection

Abril Lamarque papers, 1883-2001, bulk 1904-1999. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Files, 1917-2001, undated
(box 1, OV 12; 0.5 linear feet)

This series houses information about Lamarque and his family, including a 1985 transcribed interview with Abril Lamarque's wife, Milagros, detailing the couple's first years together in the New York. Also found in this series is substantial material on professional organizations to which Lamarque belonged from 1937 until his death in 1999. These include the Art Director's Club, Dutch Treat Club, The International Brotherhood of Magicians, National Press Club, New York University Club, the New York University Faculty Club, the Society of American Magicians, and the Society of Illustrators.

1 Personal documents, 1917-1945
1 Information on Abril Lamarque and family, 1945-2001, undated
1 Membership cards of various clubs/societies, 1937-1990, undated
1 Art Directors Club, 1943-1976, undated
1 Dutch Treat Club, 1945-1990, undated
(5 folders)
1 Society of American Magicians, 1937-2000, undated
1 Society of Illustrators (see also OV 12), 1942-1975, undated
(2 folders)
1 Miscellaneous material, 1926, undated

Series 2: Correspondence, 1922-1990, undated
(box 1, OV 12; 9 folders)

This series contains scattered personal and business correspondence. Some of the letters are in Spanish; a few are illustrated. Found are several letters and telegrams from the Dell Publishing Company and its owner, George T. Delacorte, Jr., regarding payments and other office matters. Illustrated letters from Lamarque's brother, Juan Abril Lamarque, a painter and graphic designer who came to New York in the 1930s and worked as art director of El Norte and other Spanish language magazines, are also part of this series. Illustrated cards, letters and slides from artist Paul R. Hoffmaster are also found. Additional letters are from artists and friends, including Ernesto García Cabral and Conrado Massaguer.

Correspondence from Ohio State University is with Harry Heath, associate professor in the Department of Technical Journalism and concerns design workshops and seminars taught by Lamarque. Later correspondence with Heath while he was director of the School of Journalism and Broadcasting at Oklahoma State University concerns a gift of Lamarque's personal papers on the subject of design.

1 Personal correspondence (see also OV 12), 1922-1989, undated
(2 folders)
1 Dell Publishing Co., 1930-1940, undated
1 Business correspondence, 1940-1985
1 Letters from Paul Hoffmaster, 1956-1974, undated
1 Iowa State University, 1961-1976
1 Oklahoma State University, 1962-1990
(3 folders)

Series 3: Writings and Workshops, 1925-1999, undated
(box 2; 0.75 linear feet)

This series houses copies of Primer Curso de Caricatura, a primer on how to draw the Monguito character's poses and facial expressions, published in Havana in 1925 and other published and unpublished writings by and about Lamarque, including book reviews and design articles written by Lamarque. The series also contains scripts for Lamarque's magic shows and several diaries (with loose notes.) Also found are files concerning Lamarque's publication design seminars and workshops for New York University's School of Continuing Education and the Society of National Associated Publications. The Workshop files contain articles, design examples, promotional materials, slides, handbooks written by Lamarque, and reviews of the workshops. Also included are diaries; magic show scripts; writings by others; and eulogies for Lamarque. Researchers may also find writings by Lamarque in Series 10: Scrapbooks.

The series is arranged as five subseries.

3.1: Published and Unpublished Writings, 1925-1977, undated

2 Primer Curso de Caricatura, by Abril Lamarque, 1925
2 Unpublished Draft on publication design, undated
(3 folders)
2 Manuscript Notes, 1942, undated
2 Book reviews and articles about magazine layout, 1951-1959, 1977, undated

3.2: Magic Shows, 1954-1972, undated

2 Scripts and notes for magic shows, 1954-1972, undated

3.3: Diaries, 1948, 1969, undated

2 Diaries, 1948, 1969, undated

3.4: Workshops, 1944-1982, undated

2 Agendas, 1944-1970, undated
2 Handbooks, 1946-1969, undated
(3 folders)
2 Announcements and press releases, 1946-1971, undated
2 Reviews, 1953-1978, undated
2 New York University design workshops, 1958-1965, undated
2 Advertisements, 1961-1982, undated
2 Layout examples for handbooks, undated
2 Notes, undated
2 Slides, undated
(2 folders)

3.5: Writings by Others, 1946-1999

2 Writings by others, 1946-1982
2 Eulogies, 1999

Series 4: Financial Files, 1924-1962
(box 2; 1 folder)

2 Miscellaneous financial materials, 1924-1962

Series 5: Abril Lamarque Creations, 1940-1945, undated
(box 2, OV 13; 8 folders)

This series consists of files on Abril Lamarque Creations that contain drawings and sketches, air mail labels, published advertisements from magazines and newspapers, letters from Vogue magazine and others concerning sale of items, and two memos regarding shipment orders to artist Enrique Riverón and his wife Noella. Also found are photographs and slides of his work.

2 Drawings and sketches (see also OV 13), 1940, undated
2 Advertisements (see also OV 13), 1940-1945, undated
2 Correspondence and memos, 1940-1945, undated
2 Photographs and negatives, undated
(2 folders)
2 Slides, undated
2 Miscellany, 1940, undated

Series 6: Printed Material, 1883-1989, undated
(boxes 3-4, 6, 11, OVs 14, 16, 18; 1.5 linear feet)

This series houses a wide variety of printed material that includes general clippings and examples of publication design work, illustrations, and caricatures collected by Lamarque, as well as items featuring the work of Cuban and Latin American artists and writers, including the Cuban artist Maribona. Also found in this series are printed examples of Lamarque's designs and comics, including the comic Monquito and numerous examples of his publication design work. Editions of the Havana newspaper Lunes de Diario de Cuba may be found here, as well as a 1928 Havana-theme edition of Life magazine with illustrations and caricatures by noted Cuban artists José F. Botet, Hernández Cardenas, Conrado Massaguer, H. Portell Vilá [Herminio], and Enrique Riverón. Also found is a 1933 edition of the Cuban magazine Carteles, an illustrated weekly published in Havana between 1919 and 1960 and bound volumes of Confetti, a Cuban humor magazine. This series includes general clippings about Lamarque's personal and professional life, including references to his “radiocatures” published in the Telegram Evening Mail, copies of which are housed in Series 7: Original Artwork.

The series is arranged as five subseries:

6.1: General Printed Material, 1883-1959, undated

3 Publications and graphic designs, 1883, 1899, 1927-1959, undated
(2 folders)
11 (sol) Confetti, Cuban humor magazine (bound volumes), 1916-1917
3 Programs for magic show performances, 1947-1948, undated

6.2: Designs by Lamarque, 1923-1989, undated

3 Magazines and magazine covers, 1923-1989
(4 folders)
3 Personal and business letterheads, circa 1925, undated
3 Books, 1946-1961
(3 folders)
3 Advertisements, undated
3 Christmas cards, undated
3 Page banners (see also OV 14), 1929, undated
6 (sol) Newspapers (see also OV 14), 1925-1939, 1988
6 (sol) Designs for Bacardi, 1962
6 (sol) Marketing publications, undated

6.3: Clippings, 1921-1977, undated

3 Miscellaneous caricatures and illustrations, 1931, undated
3 Caricatures and illustrations by Abril Lamarque (see also OV 14), 1921-1941, undated
(2 folders)
3 Film Fun caricatures, 1928-1932, undated
3 Monguito, comic strip by Abril Lamarque, 1926-1933, undated
(8 folders)
4 About Abril Lamarque (see also OV 14), 1924-1977, undated
(2 folders)
4 Ads illustrated by Abril Lamarque, undated

6.4: Posters, 1939-1975, undated

4 “Aluminum for Britain” (see also OV 16; contains other printed material), 1941
4 “The Mad Monster of Coyete Flat,” undated
OV 16 “Magician with Top Hat,” 1939
OV 16 The Tablet (Catholic newspaper), 1975
OV 16 “Buy U.S. War Bonds,” undated
OV 16 “College Art Store,” undated
OV 16 “Manuel Rodríguez Manolete,” Spanish matador, undated
OV 16 Monguito advertisements, undated
OV 18 Karol Kozlowski Exhibition Poster, undated

6.5: Printing Plates, circa 1920s

4 Monguito, comic strip paper printing plates, circa 1920s
(2 folders)
4 Metal printing plate of Monguito comic strip character, circa 1920s

Series 7: Original Artwork, 1914-1988, undated
(box 4, OVs 15, 18; 8 folders)

This series includes two childhood sketchbooks belonging to Lamarque and his sister. Amusing pen and ink illustrations and caricatures by Abril Lamarque's brother, Juan Abril Lamarque, are also found. Other original artwork is by Abril Lamarque, Enrique Riverón, H. Portell Vilá, and other artists. This series also includes photocopies of drawings Lamarque created for his granddaughter, Cristina. Additional artwork may be found in Series 10: Scrapbooks.

4 Childhood Sketchbooks, 1914-1917, undated
4 Drawings by Lamarque (see also OVs 15, 18), 1920-1988, undated
(2 folders)
4 Caricatures and Drawings of Abril Lamarque, 1925-1983, undated
4 Printing paste-ups, 1969, undated
4 Original artwork by Juan Lamarque (see also OV 15), undated

Series 8: Subject Files, 1904-1996, undated
(box 4, OVs 17-18; 0.5 linear feet)

This series contains files Lamarque collected on various interests and current events including a Bacardi family dispute in the 1990s surrounding their rum company and several humorous photographs of the company's C.E.O., José M. Bosch (Abril Lamarque's cousin). Also found is material on the Cuban caricaturist and publisher, Conrado Massaguer.

The subject files also include one folder of material on the Dell Publishing Company and its owner, George T. Delacorte, Jr. Also found is material on Polish self-taught painter Karol Kozlowski, which include an exhibition catalog written by Lamarque's daughter, Martha Lamarque Sarno. A large poster designed by Lamarque for this exhibition is housed with the posters in Series 6: Printed Material.

Three small scrapbooks with newspaper clippings of caricatures by Mexican caricaturist Ernesto García Cabral, as well as printed material about illustrators and caricaturists Arias Bernal, Paolo Garretto, Norman Rockwell and Sirio are also found. Photographs of Abril Lamarque with Cuba's former president, Fulgencio Batista are also arranged in this series.

4 Bacardi Company, 1953-1996, undated
4 Batista, Fulgencio, undated
4 Cabral, Ernesto García, 1921, undated
(2 folders)
4 Dell Publishing Company, 1927-1939, undated
4 Garretto, Paolo, 1931-1935, undated
4 Kozlowski, Karol, 1984-1985, undated
4 Massaguer, Conrado W. (see also OV 17), 1913-1957, undated
(4 folders)
4 Sirio, 1918-1920, undated
OV 18 Bernal, Arias, undated
OV 18 Rockwell, Norman, 1904, 1930-1932

Series 9: Photographs and Slides, 1924-1986, undated
(boxes 4-5; 0.5 linear feet)

This series includes photographs of Lamarque at work and teaching his seminars and workshops; Lamarque with friends, artists, and personalities including Ernesto García Cabral, Jorge Mañach, Conrado Massaguer, Xavier Xugat and others; and Lamarque's magic show performances at the Society of Illustrators annual Christmas show and the Society of American Magicians. Also found are photographs and slides of advertisements, cards, slogans, and logos designed by Lamarque.

4 Abril Lamarque's guardians and teacher, 1924
4 Friends and celebrities, 1934-1985, undated
4 Performances as amateur magician, 1940-1966, undated
(2 folders)
4 Abril Lamarque, 1943-1964, undated
(3 folders)
5 (hol) Publication workshops and seminars, 1958-1974
5 (hol) Advertisements, undated
5 (hol) Advertising campaigns, undated
5 (hol) Christmas card designs, undated
5 (hol) Dell Publishing Company offices and other organizations, undated
5 (hol) Magic Act, Western Union messengers, undated

Series 10: Scrapbooks, 1920-1959, undated
(boxes 7-10; 1.2 linear feet)

This series contains seven scrapbooks with newspaper clippings, magazine articles, caricatures, illustrations, scattered letters, photographs, event invitations, and original artwork extensively documenting Lamarque's personal and professional life. Four scrapbooks include covers for magazines Lamarque designed as well as his published caricatures and illustrations for such magazines as Bally-hoo, Film Fun, Inside Detective, Modern Screen, Screen Romances, and others. Scrapbook 1 includes a copy of Lamarque's first cartoon published in 1921 and correspondence from Lamarque's lawyer regarding his application for a patent for his “radiocatures,” a radio broadcast that verbally transmitted his pictures and caricatures while the audience followed a diagram printed in the Telegram-Mail.

Of special interest in Scrapbook 3 are two letters addressed to Cuban caricaturist and publisher Conrado Massaguer from Vanity Fair magazine expressing an interest in Abril Lamarque's artwork. Examples of Lamarque's business stationary are also found in this scrapbook. Scrapbook 4 is devoted to artwork Lamarque created for the Dell Publishing Company, including advertisements designed by Lamarque for Ballantine Ale, a beer company owned by George T. Delacorte, owner of the Dell Publishing Company.

Scrapbooks 5 and 7 document Lamarque's interest in magic and his numerous performances as an amateur magician in connection with the Society of American Magicians and the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Scrapbook 6 contains clippings of book reviews for Brooklyn U.S.A., written by John Richmond and Abril Lamarque.

7 (sol) Scrapbook 1, 1920-1951, undated
7 (sol) Scrapbook 2, 1920-1939, undated
7 (sol) Scrapbook 3, 1924 -1951, undated
8 (sol) Scrapbook 4, Dell Publishing Company, 1927-1930, undated
8 (sol) Scrapbook 5, 1936-1958, undated
9 (sol) Scrapbook 6, 1940-1959, undated
9 (sol) Scrapbook 7, 1942-1958, undated
10 (sol) Original artwork removed from Scrapbook 1, undated