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New Items Join our Collection

New Items Join our Collection

Benda Illustration: Antonia driving cattle in a blizzard
Benda illustration: Bohemian woman gathering mushrooms
Benda Illustration: Group portrait of the Shimerda family
Benda Illustration: Mr. Shimerda with a gun
1 of 3 Cather family quilts in the WCF's collection
Wednesday, August 1, 2012

When Jim and Angela Southwick came to Red Cloud for June's Spring Conference and Cather Foundation Board of Governors meeting, they came bearing gifts-very generous gifts. Perhaps the most exciting pieces in the collection are four of the original Benda illustrations to My Ántonia. These illustrations join two additional Benda originals that are part of the Foundation's collection. Willa Cather commissioned W. T. Benda to create these pen-and-ink drawings, eight of which were published in the novel when it was released in 1918. The image of Ántonia driving cattle in a blizzard (shown to the right) is particularly special, as it features a handwritten inscription by Cather on the backside that reads, "A Benda original with best wishes for a Merry Christmas, Willie."

Other favorite pieces include three Cather family quilts and the family silver. It is believed that the quilts and the silver were in the Cather Second Home when it was inherited by Cather's sister, Elsie, who later gifted the items to Cather's niece, Helen Cather Southwick. The Benda prints also belonged to Helen Cather Southwick, and were likely given to her by Edith Lewis.

We thank Jim and Angela Southwick for their devotion to the preservation of Cather's life and work for our posterity. They have given Cather fans yet another reason to visit us in Red Cloud.