The Scribble-In Book

1938 – 1947
Collections of Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko, © Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko
Bound in orange cloth with The Scribble-In Book trademark stamped in gold on the front cover, this sketchbook contains 214 unnumbered pages (107 sheets). Of these pages, 51 plus the inside back cover contain pencil drawings, 34 contain ink drawings, 8 are pencil and ink drawings, 118 are blank, and 3 contain handwritten messages about supply quantities and what appear to be palette notes (on the 130th, 131st, and 135th pages).

Rothko appears to have used this sketchbook indoors and outdoors over the course of a decade. Around 1938/1939, he used the sketchbook for domestic vignettes, studio scenes, and still lifes, several of which relate to canvases. He also used the sketchbook in the streets and subway system of New York City and in the countryside, most likely on a trip to Lake George, New York, where he sketched floral and plant motifs and outdoor scenes. Several pages contain drawings of faces, at least two of which appear to be caricatures of contemporary political figures—rare examples in Rothko’s oeuvre—one of Adolf Hitler and another possibly of Benito Mussolini. Seven pages near the middle of the sketchbook carry abstract compositions that appear to relate to the so-called multiform works of the late 1940s.

Only pages with drawings have individual catalog entries in this online resource. All pages can be viewed by clicking the image of the sketchbook cover above.