Joseph Pennell was born in 1857 and died in 1926. He began his work as an illustrator by selling drawings of south Philadelphia to Scribner's Monthly in 1881. In addition to his extensive sketches of American cities, he went to the Panama Canal and sketched a number of construction sites. He taught etching at the Arts Students' league in New York, wrote several books, served as an art critic on the Brooklyn Eagle, and helped run the New Society of Sculptors, Painters and Engravers. Pennell is considered to have done more than any other one artist of his time to improve the quality of illustration both in the United States and abroad and to raise its status as an art. He produced more than 900 etched and mezzotint plates, some 621 lithographs, and innumerable drawings and water colors.