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A standing old man is balancing an eel on his nose, while a young man looks on in surprise.

An old man with white hair is standing in the center of a landscape with a stream or river, balancing a slightly curved eel on his nose. Just behind him, to the right, is a young man with a feathered hat, who is looking up at the eel with his mouth open and eyes widened in surprise. The old man’s mouth is open, and he is looking up at the eel, while his right arm is bent up at the elbow and his left arm is stretched out in front of him as he balances the eel. The old man is wearing a jacket and patterned vest and buckled shoes. His brimmed hat lies on the ground at the left. The young man is holding a fishing rod. Another rod and an oval woven creel lie on the ground at the lower right.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Peter Sheaf Hersey Newell, American (Bushnell, IL 1862 - 1924 Little Neck, NY)
Old Father William Balancing an Eel, from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
Other Titles
Series/Book Title: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Alternate Title: Five Illustrations for "Alice in Wonderland"
Work Type
c. 1901
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Watercolor, graphite, gouache and black ink on cream wove paper mounted on board
28.2 × 18 cm (11 1/8 × 7 1/16 in.)
mount: 39.6 × 29.3 cm (15 9/16 × 11 9/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: black ink, l.r.: Peter Newell
  • inscription: verso, blue pencil: 11931
  • label: verso, paper: Instructions for reproduction of the drawing.


Recorded Ownership History
Philip Hofer, Gift to Fogg Art Museum, 1929.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Philip Hofer
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Harper and Brothers Publishers (New York, NY and London, England, 1901), reproduced facing p. 64

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