|Page 2 of 2 <|
"You are ageless and timeless," Truman told Berryman the year the artist died. "Presidents, senators, and even Supreme Court justices come and go, but the Monument and Berryman stand."
Among Berryman's specialties were his Democratic donkeys and Republican elephants, garbed in the clothing of the day and engaged in homespun debate.
He also drew the goat of the short-lived Progressive Party; a scraggly, dim-looking, ill-clad figure of John Q. Public; and an old lady with hair ringlets he called Miss Democracy.
"There's a gentility" in the drawings, Allen Weinstein, archivist of the United States, said during an exhibit preview. "It's a more settled political culture."
Exhibit curator Jessie Kratz, who recounted how the cartoons were discovered, said: "If you look at political cartoons from that era, he was especially nice. He didn't distort figures, which a lot of other cartoonists did. He was an anomaly for his day."
Kratz said Berryman may even have traced the faces of his subjects from photographs for better accuracy. He kept hundreds of reference photos, and some of his drawings of presidents Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft and Warren G. Harding look copied from official portraits.
Berryman was born in Kentucky in 1869. He came to Washington in 1886 to take a job as an illustrator in the U.S. Patent Office, and in 1891 he became a cartoonist for The Post.
Eight years later, he decamped to the Washington Star, where he worked until he died in 1949. He passed away at age 80 in the Bancroft Place house, after collapsing in the lobby of the Star.
Wearing an artist's tie and using an ink bottle, Berryman is thought to have drawn more than 15,000 cartoons. About 2,400 of them were discovered in his daughter's basement after she died.
Lucy Shelton Caswell, an Ohio State University professor and curator of the school's cartoon research library, said it was common in Berryman's time for a cartoonist to draw on subjects well beyond politics.
"It wasn't always commentary," she said in a telephone interview Friday. "It might be welcoming lady spring or something like that. . . . It was a different time and a different sensibility."
Archives officials said the Berryman drawings were purchased from the family estate by the Charles Engelhard Foundation, which donated them to the U.S. Senate.
They make up the largest known collection of Berryman sketches, officials said, and are housed in the Archives' Center for Legislative Archives.
"Most people have never heard of Clifford Berryman," Kratz said. "He was on the front page, above the fold, under the masthead for 50 years. He just kind of, 'poof,' disappeared. And we're hoping to bring him back."