The Return of the “Prodigal Father” to the “Puck” Office
Drawn by Himself
by Joseph Keppler (1883)
Another very “meta” self-portrait of Keppler, here re-entering the Puck
office and greeting his co-workers bearing souvenirs (sheet music [?] from Austria, cheese from Neuchâtel, sausages from Frankfurt, champagne from Paris, a tote bag from Vienna and an umbrella from London) from his travels. He is greeted by Puck, his creation, as a child greeting his father. Lots of detail to appreciate here. Fellow Puck
artists Frederick Opper, Bernard Gilliam, Frederick Graetz and, behind them, an impossibly young* Eugene Zimmerman emerge from the Artists Department. Henry C. Bunner (Dynamite Editor) leads the charge at the Editorial Department.
Also present, a couple more recurring Puck
characters: V. Hugo Dusenbury and F. Fitznoodle. An easel to their left displays a crude sketch of John Kelly. To the right of the easel, a mannequin with a sculpture of Roscoe Conkling’s head on top. A display case bearing the legend “Models From A to Z” displays busts of (among others) J. Gordon Bennett, Chester A. Arthur, Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas DeWitt Talmage, Winfield Scott Hancock, Benjamin Butler, George Robeson, L. Q. C. Lamar (?), James Blaine, Allen G. Thurman, Samuel Tilden and Carl Schurz.
This vacation was almost certainly very much needed, considering Keppler basically overworked himself into an early grave. That knowledge adds a bittersweet tang to the above image.
*All right, perhaps not impossibly young. Zimmerman was still in his twenties when he worked at Puck