This print, by David Orrin Steinberger, dated January 1898, was
originally a large ink drawing that the artist donated to the
American Red Cross to be reproduced and sold for $1.00 each for
the relief of Cuban insurrectionistas and recontrados.
Clara Burton, the founder of the American Red Cross, had been in Cuba
with several assistants giving aid to those imprisoned
insurrectionists and their supporters who had been herded
into concentration camps in and around Havana, by order of
the former Spanish Governor General Wyler. Clara Barton
had dined aboard the USS Maine just 2 days before
exploded, killing 266 crewmen on February 15th, 1898.
On April 22, Cuba was blockaded by the US, and on the 23rd,
Spain declared war on the US., and on the 25th, the US
declared war on Spain, retroactive to the 22nd.
It is not known where the original of this print is,
how many copies of them were sold or how many of them still exist.
From across the room, the print appears to be a large heart.
Closer inspection reveals a very complex picture of "Columbia",
the spiritual embodiment of the United States, embracing a woman
identified as Cuba. The title, The Accolade, is an
archaic term meaning to embrace, to confirm knighthood.
Columbia appears also to be trying to revive Cuba, who, with an
arrow through her heart, is very seriously wounded.
This is an allegorical picture with many symbolic images:
Columbia's slight wound to the wrist, the Statue of Liberty with
the doves of peace and the owls of darkness, the Great White Fleet
with searchlights piercing the fogbank, perhaps shrouding a rocky shoal,
the cast aside shackles and the skull key, Columbia's broken
shackle with the $ sign and the skull in the whirlpool make
this an intriguing and provocative print.
D. Orrin Steinberger was born March 25, 1857 and died December 12,
1945. He studied at the National Academy of design and Art League schools
and was an instructor in art at the Wittenberg College. He was an
illustrator for a number of magazines and periodicals. He was
mentored by the famous sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward. Shortly
after completing this picture, he became a correspondent for the
New York "Literary Digest" during the Spanish-American War. In
1900, he went to Colorado Springs, seeking a cure for tuberculosis
that he had contracted shortly after finishing this picture.
Told there was no cure, he went home to Urbana, Ohio and
convinced several friends to help him build a tree house 40
feet from the ground, in a large tree on his fathers farm.
He lived there for most of the rest of his life, naming it
"Camp-a-loft" and he became known as the "Hermit of Mad River".
former judge of the New York Supreme Court said,
Your undertaking to raise a million dollars for the work of
the Red Cross is a godlike charity. Every purchaser of The Accolade
will get more than the money value he pays in the picture itself, and will
have the joy of knowing that his dollar is wholly a contribution to
the truest christian charity not known to the world. The Accolade is
the name of the kiss that was given as the final ceremony in the
bestowment of knighthood upon the worthy heroes of the age of
chivalry. It was a token of love for the noble deeds done in the
cause of virtue. It is well then, that in this hour of her awful agony,
America should clasp to her bosom the wretched and unhappy Cuba and
vie to her The Accolade - the kiss of charity and love - and
the token of hope for peace and happiness, bestowed by a mighty
people in the name of God and Liberty.