The Puzzling World of John Sloan

June 6, 2015 - September 6, 2015

Between 1900 and 1910, John Sloan produced a weekly series of word and picture puzzles for the Sunday supplement of the Philadelphia Press, one of the country’s leading illustrated newspapers. The Puzzling World of John Sloan will explore this little-known facet of Sloan’s early newspaper career, presenting more than 25 works from the Museum’s collection. On view for the first time, the puzzles demonstrate the artist’s imagination and verbal and visual wit, as well as the fluid boundaries between fine art and newspaper illustration in the first decade of the 20th century. This exhibition encourages visitors to solve Sloan’s complex puzzles.

To view large images and caption information, click below.


This exhibition was organized by the Delaware Art Museum.


The Puzzling World of John Sloan is made possible by the Johannes R. and Betty P. Krahmer American Art Exhibition Fund. Additional support is provided by grants from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.


The Football Puzzle, 1901
The first ten players have chrysanthemums for helmets. The final player is upside down and hidden in the woman’s torso. His head is at the end of her boa; his back fits into the curve of her arm; and his foot fits into her collar, creating the notch in her white collar.

Sherlock Holmes Puzzle, 1901
The picture should be held before a mirror or looked at from behind so that light shines through the paper. This reverses the figures to form the message: “Stop note, then it depends on Jones to postpone the deposition.”

The Simple Simon Pieman Puzzle, 1900
The complete list of pie types hidden in the puzzle is as follows: Lemon, Pineapple, Strawberry, Pear, Apple, Oyster, Gooseberry, Blackberry, Cherry, Lamb, Potpie, Coconut, Pumpkin, Raspberry, Sweet Potato, Squash, Chicken, Raisin, Rhubarb, Banana.

What Names for Parts of the Human Body Are These?, 1909
1. Brain (B-r-r-ain); 2. Shoulder (SSH older); 3. Spine (S. pine); 4. Heel (Heal); 5. Nose (No’es); 6. Feet (Feat); 7. Skeleton (SK. Ella ton); 8. Toes (Tows); 9. Knees (N. ease); 10. Heart (Ha! art)