Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Isabel de B Lockyer

I used to know someone who would say 'Isabel de B Lockyer' so grandly I got it into my head that, of all the forgotten artists, she must be the most glamorous, the most desirable. So when I eventually found a linocut of hers in a shop in Camden Passage, Islington, I was inevitably confused. It was called The striped sail; it was quite small; it was rather abstract. It had none of the bravura I liked to associate with colour woodcut or linocut and I left it there in the shop. I have never seen another one since.

But, if I was wrong to leave The striped sail down in Islington, my other instincts were proved correct. There is chic and glamour in these early landscapes - the little temple screened by trees in Near Vevey (1924), the Italian coast, above, in Rapallo (1926) and the stylish The lagoon, Corfu (1928). They all make me think of house-parties in the country and holidays abroad. And indeed I think she chose as mentor an artist with the most glamorous light of them all. I mean William Giles (see WG: modern printmaker, March, 2011). There is no record that he actively taught her anything but we only have to look at Near Vevey to see that she knew his work very well. But this is Giles without any pretence at realistic lighting. He went to extremes to get that kind of pink; I don't think Switzerland is quite so northern lights as that.

As I said  'Ada Collier, ancient and modern' (March, 2011), we do know that Giles taught Collier and this does suggest to me that other artists may have gone to him for tuition. We not only find the same improbable colours in her linocuts, she also goes in for his precision. She is not only exact about titles, at times she goes in for describing the light the way he does. But in almost all other respects, there the tutorship ends. Although they may look like colour woodcuts because of the water-based inks she uses, all these prints were made from linoblocks. The works from the twenties are also landscapes, very much in line with many British colour woodcutters of that period, including Ian Cheyne and Helen Stevenson. By 1930, though, there is a change.
The shop window from 1930 is typical - schematic and with more of an interest in the human figure. Inevitably, again, it hard to really know what these changes mean without knowing more about her or seeing more of her work. I've deliberately placed these prints in chronological order (she always dated her work) but we only have a run of eleven years here, which isn't very much to go on. What I do think we can see is the influence of the Grosvenor School, especially when she chooses social or popular activities like shopping or picnics as her subjects. Bear in mind that both Giles and Claude Flight were the kind of men who very much wanted to show what could be done with their chosen mediums. So far as Isabel de Bohun Lockyer went, it seems that work had its effect.

Which brings us to Wembury Church (1933). The Lockyers came from Plymouth and one of them bought Wembury House in the early C19th. He later moved to Australia with the British Army but the family connection clearly took Lockyer to south Devon to produce this rather unsual offshore print. (It's been pointed out that you could have only see the church this way from a boat). The de Bohun bit of her name is something of a mystery. So far as I can see, the de Bohuns only had a residual Devon connection and my own feeling is that this rather grand addition to her name was made by Lockyer herself. It makes her name as complex as one of Giles' titles.

I like the name, as I said; and what I do like very much about her work is the variety. She uses a wide range of colours but usually doesn't let her interest in them predominate  - one of Giles' failings. If she has no interest in natural light (even at its Giles' weirdest) she does have a strong sense of the social world around her. I suspect her early voguish landscapes suggest a social milieu as much as the portrait etchings of Emil Orlik do. These are very specific types of places she is recording. It a view of them as pleasurable with their isolated old buildings. The fur coats, the cloche hats, the Japanese sun shade only add to the general feeling of fashionable exclusivity. [It would also be wrong of me not to credit in Sydney for five of these prints.]

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Grosvenor School of Modern Art

The Grosvenor School is the sort of place where you would like to walk to Warwick Square, wander in and speak to Miss Andrews in the office, to enquire whether you could look in on Mr Flight's class so you find out just what they were all up to. I suspect it was the kind of place that had as much in common with the community of artist-converts at Ditchling in Sussex as it did with the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. Claude Flight (1881 - 1955) was a linocut evangelist and everyone, including the staff, attended his classes. It's no wonder they all made so many.

It was set up in this rambling old house in 1925 by three men who had all come to art and print later rather than sooner. Flight had tried out various things, including bee-keeping, untill he hit on modernism and, in particular linocut, as the answer. As you see from his Swiss Mountains from c1934, he was an enthusiast. He had begun making linocuts in 1919 and taught students to use separate blocks for each colour. In 1929 he organised 'The first exhibition of British linocuts' and even if his name is almost synonymous with linocut today, his enthusiasm for the Grosvenor School was short-lived. He taught there for only four years, from 1926 untill 1930, when he transferred his already informal classes to a cave above the river Seine.

Flight had studied at Heatherley's School of Fine Art in London both before the war and then after. Cyril Power (1872 - 1951) didn't enrol at Heatherley's untill 1925 when he was already 53. He had been a successful architect but turned his mind to art. He had met Sybil Andrews in 1921 and she duly became school secretary. (See Sybil Andrews: the rural year, February, 2011). It's not hard to see his interest in both architectural design and form in general in The Tube staircase, 1929. It shows the stairs at Russell Square underground station in London, an exact location for a dynamic print. If their modernism is at times far-fetched, this linocut does put me in mind of  Marcel Duchamp.

Power gaves classes on architecture and ornament (he had already published a three-volume book) but the only one of the trio with any prior experience of teaching at all was Iain MacNab (1890 - 1967) - and that wasn't much. If I also tell you he spent a year at Glasgow School of Art in 1917 before also moving to Heatherley's in 1918, you will begin to see the pattern. The brave idea of a school dedicated to modern art may well have begun with their joint experience of a London private art school. (I'm not suggesting the experience was bad because MacNab became joint-principal of Heatherley's in 1919 and didn't relenquish his post of director of art studies untill as late as 1953.) But in 1925, even with his limited experience, MacNab took on the job of principal at the Grosvenor and certainly stuck at it longer than Flight.

MacNab was also one of the finest British wood-engravers of C20th. The effect of prints like Corsican Landscape on his students of wood-engraving is clear; it may be less obvious with the students that practised other forms of printmaking but it there nevetheless.  As for the students themeselves, I started the post off with French Porters by the most talented one them all, the Swiss printmaker, Lill Tschudi (1911 - 2004). She came across the linocuts of that albatross-around-my-neck, Norbertine von Bresslern Roth, while still at school in Switzerland. She saw the school adverts in The Studio and attended between 1929 and 1930 when Flight was still teaching there. Like some of the other students she also trained with the French cubist Andre Lhote. It wasn't a matter of this being their only brush with modernism; some the students could obviously afford to pick and choose.

The Australian artist, Ethel Spowers (1890 - 1947) was one. She had studied art in Melbourne then moved to Europe in 1921 and, just to let you know what their first prints could be like, I include Spowers woodcut Eglise de Grace, Paris made during her first year in Europe. As you see, it isn't up to very much at all. Tug of War she produced in 1933, after her return to Australia, and is a fine piece of work without having the modernist thoroughness of Tschudi. Spowers only spent part of 1929 at the Grosvenor but it had a great effect. Linocuts she produced before that time were stronger than her early woodcut effort but conventional untill Claude Flight showed her how.

Eveline Syme had been at school with Spowers in Melbourne but went on to study classics at Cambridge. She turned her mind to painting and France in the early twenties but it was the discovery of Flight's book Lino-Cut that led Syme and her friend Ethel Spowers to enrol at Pimlico in 1929. I like the way they all went back home and turned the technique on Australia. It has of course helped to make their name. But that process only began in the 1970s, with the vogue for all things Deco. Nowadays a dealer on ebay only has to add the illustrious words 'Grosvenor School' to some linocut or other to prove that linocuts will never be affordable or democratic again. The idea had been to show the modern age they lived in - what everyone else was doing when they were making linocuts - in a modern way.

Wattle tree is by Dorrit Black (1891 - 1951). I think she is the weakest of the three Australian artists but this does show what they were about. She studied in Melbourne before heading for London in 1927 when she spent a mere three months at the Grosvenor School. It wasn't long but it was clearly enough. The British artist Gwenda Morgan (1908 - 1991) studied there far longer - between 1930 and 1936. This almost certainly couldn't have been a full-time arrangement. She had already spoent the years 1926 to 1929 across the river Thames at Goldsmith's, after all. But the example MacNab gave shines through much of her fine body of work. These wood-engravings may not be as thrilling as those linocuts but her work stays in the mind a long time after excitements have washed over it.

Ronald Grierson (1901 - 1992) was another student of MacNab's. Mainly known as a designer of textiles, he had also first studied elsewhere (at Hammersmith School of Art) before spending time at the Grosvenor. Alison MacKenzie (1907 - 1982) didn't arrive untill the 1930s (with her sister Winifred, see July, 2011). Both had studied woodcut with MacNab's sister, Chica, at Glasgow School of Art. It was a small, quite short-lived world for many of them, I imagine, far from the formal disciplines of many art schools and more in line with the progressive independent schools that were being opened up - but far more dependent than they were on the trends.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Mary Macrae White goes to Fez

Here is yet another colour print by a forgotten Scottish artist - this time Mary Macrae White, with a subject that is just as striking as the medium she is using. Her subject first. I am pretty confident that this is Morocco and fairly certain that her woodcut depicts the old city of Fez. Admittedly, it could be Tetouan or another of the Andalucian towns of northern Morocco but I think the tower you can see is the minaret of the Kairouine mosque and the green she uses suggests the tiles that decorate the corners. There are also still open spaces in the valley below the mosque and mules are commonly used as transport. To beef up the Moroccan connection, Macrae White came from Aberdeen. The link may be the etcher, James McBey (1883 - 1959) who was born in Aberdeenshire but spent a good deal of time in Morocco from 1912 onwards. In fact, he died in Tangier and I'm including one of his watercolours of the fine northern city of Tetouan, which obviously fascinated McBey.


You probably have to know Morocco and its colours to realise how observant an artist she was. I have her down as the same plein air generation as Ethel Kirkpatrick. Like her, Macrae White began as a watercolourist though I wouldn't say there was the same attempt to capture the effects of light that we find in Kirkpatrick. All the same, the dominant colours of the print - the cedar green and ginger on the mule - are commonly used for dyes in Morocco, like many other earth colours. (It was a common ploy for C19th painters to use a combination of turquoise and terracotta to signify the East). She is certainly interested in the effect of light and shadow, as you can see around the horses, so much so she must have made watercolours of the subject. But the artist she reminds me of most is SG Boxsius. The use of planes of colour is very much like him (although her reliance on the keyblock to articulate objects also puts me in mind of Frank Brangwyn). Nevertheless, I think we have here a trained artist who knew what she was about by the time she made this  quite powerful colour woodcut. There is a refreshing lack of artiness about the print. It does tend to make me think of a C19th watercolour sketch but it's beautifully realised nevertheless - not something so easy to achieve in this demanding medium. I am just surprised we don't know of more prints by her. At some point she began to teach at the Greenwich House pottery in Greenwich Village, New York (presumably as a painter) but always kept a base for herself in Surrey, Kent or Sussex. She died aged 80 - I would have thought in about 1955.

I couldn't resist including this extraordinary photograph from 1916. It's a good example of the way cheaply-produced postcards often had more to tell about Morocco than fine etchings by artists like McBey - as much as he obviously liked both the country and its people. The men in the coarse djellabas and turbans on the left are countrymen, the ones in dark cloaks and fezzes are Jewish. So much work by Europeans tends to avoid real identity. Veiled or hooded figures are all too common. It gives local colour. I will say this for Macrae White: in this woodcut, at least, she does north Africa better justice than many do. There is an awareness and objectivity about her print that makes me feel it comes from the 1920s. The clothing, of course, offers no clues. But then everything surrounding this woodcut is generally frustrating! [I almost forgot to add that I lifted the Macrae White from Steven Bishop's blog. It may well be for sale at his site I only wish I'd found it first.]

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Ian Fleming, Ian Cheyne & Laboureur

I have to admit that for a long time I looked on the Scottish artist Ian Fleming (1906 - 1994) as an also-ran. I first came across his colour woodcuts at an exhibition way back in 1986 and I should think I was too shocked by the prices being asked to take in anything else about the show. In my defence, I've only had monochrome catalogue illustrations between then and now. But that really is no excuse and, to be fair to him, colour woodcut wasn't Fleming's stock-in-trade, anyway. I know of only five colour woodcuts - the two I have posted here and three others, called Aspidistra, Road to the valley and Mist in the valley. OK, he wasn't good on titles, but I am going to assume all his woodcuts date from early on in his career. He produced the lyrical Parkscape, with its subtle modernity, in 1928 while still a student at Glasgow School of Art.

Or, to be more exact, he appears to have produced a very humble edition of three to begin with. Parkscape. Sunshine & rain was less snappy than the abruptly modernist Parkscape but that was its first title. As you see the second edition ran into a modest twenty-five. Glasgow tenement window (I am sorry to say only in monochrome) is equally subtle, framing the three yards and adopting the high viewpoint that became such a strong feature of his work. This print adopts a restricted view, later work does not, and perhaps behind it are the limitations placed upon student work. His teacher of woodcut at Glasgow was the influential Chica MacNab. To my intense frustration, I've been unable to turn up even one image by MacNab to show just how her work might have affected printmakers like Fleming and Winifred MacKenzie (another of her students). What these two have in common in their early work is the modern manner and I shall assume they learned that from MacNab.

But, in the end, it was his teacher of engraving, Charles Murray (1994 - 1954) who was to have the more enduring effect. Murray had himself been a student at Glasgow and is credited with reviving the art of copper engraving before even innovators like Robert Austin who taught at the RCA in London. Murray was something of a renegade who first fought with the White Army, then won the Prix de Rome before travelling, settling down again at his old art school and eventually hitting the bottle. Fleming wisely exchanged Murray's fine but mannered style for the urbane and voguish approach of the Breton engraver Jean-Emile Laboureur (1877 - 1943). Like Murray, Laboureur also got around but there was less of Iceland and Russia and more of Paris, London and New York. And in some ways this neatly sums up the appeal of Fleming's own work: there are the lyrical incidents of gardens and the Galloway and Dumfries countryside (as you will see below in Laboureur) but he never forgets his home town. Glasgow was his convincing subject, and no more so than in his wonderful engraving of 1930, Botanic Gardens, Glasgow.

The same is true of the incisive Modern suburbia from 1929. This was the year he left art school (he first attended in 1924) and the youthful wish to take a modern view of things is evident in the title. But for everything he seems to have learned from Laboureur - the strong contrast of light and shadow, the linear, descriptive approach - he is already his own man. I also have to admit that I prefer these early works. There's a freshness of vision here and  a strong desire to show aspects of the world he lived in. Ironically, he is a realist in a way that the man from Nantes never is. He has taken the lessons of Laboureur about the complexities of modern lives to heart but he never sinks to pastiche.

Nor does Ian Cheyne (1895 - 1955). I am unashamedly re-posting my own Summer Picnic and his masterly Campers just to show how brave Ian Fleming was. Fleming never achieved work with this panache. By comparison, he looks almost antiquarian. But he was an engraver first and foremost and I always have the greatest admiration for printmakers who can make both convincing woodcuts and intalgio prints. Laboureur tried both but his woodcuts tend to look like pattern-making. Cheyne started off as a painter. He was eleven years older than Fleming but didn't attend Glasgow School of Art untill 1921 - 1923. He may have trained first at another school, or the war may have interrupted his studies. I don't know. Whatever the case, somewhere along the way, he meshed the contemporary impact of Laboureur with the mastery of Hokusai to come up with something utterly unique and deeply desirable.

He was brought up in the seaside town of  Broughty Ferry, on the east coast of Scotland, near Dundee, but all we really know about him are the colour woodcuts that have set a standard for all those productions of the 1920s and 1930s. I have already posted as many as I can (well, there are one or two more). As for Laboureur himself, I leave you with two copper engravings from 1916 and the early twenties, and two woodcuts from a similar period. Just compare, if you will, the shapes of the trees on the hill in Le Printemps with the trees on the left in Fleming's Botanic Gardens, Glasgow or the meshes of the fishermens' nets with the meshing of the rain and light in Parkscape. Cheyne's frothy trees and cubist tents are more obvious loans but we take them as they were intended, with great good humour. And although there is no record of Fleming and Cheyne meeting, it's pretty certain that they did know one another through exhibiting with fellow Scots (and Englishmen) at the Society of Artist-Printmakers (Cheyne was treasurer). The 1930s market for prints held up better in Scotland than in England and this attracted English printmakers like Edgar Holloway to show with them. He knew both Cheyne and Fleming and exchanged Cheyne's West Highland Loch for one of his own etchings. Which shows just how much they learned from one another.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Seeing double with Engelbert Lap


Here is the print that I talked about buying in Sheffield with the same print but with a different colourway below. My photograph is too pale. The colours are richer than this. All the same it suggests the image must have sold well at the time to warrant a second edition. I haven't found any others that Lap approached in this way. Not that many Austrian and German printmakers went in for numbered editions at the time. I can't make out the title of the work and mine only has a signature. This suggests to me that it was the second version. Gerrie Caspers described the blue one as his best print and of the ones I have seen, I tend to agree. But then you need to see the work in front of you and in this country, at least, we don't get that much of an opportunity to see woodcuts by Lap. I was fortunate when I bought this. No one used to be able decipher the signatures of Austrian or German artists. In those days access to Thieme-Baecker,  with their list of monograms and signatures, was necessary to even identify someone like Carl Thiemann. I don't think you would even find one now.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Engelbert Lap

A few years ago someone I know put me onto a shop on West Street in Sheffield. It was the kind of place that had a happy mix of second-hand books and C20th century paintings and prints, the kind of place that had a well-selected stock that appealed to a bookish crowd, the kind of place that time has tidied away. That particular afternoon I stopped to look in the window where I saw the colour woodcut you can see above. Or, at least, not that woodcut but one with a different set of colours. I went in; it was £110. I didn't hesitate. Neither the owner of the shop, nor I, had any idea who it was by or where it was from. But it was, of course, the Austrian printmaker, Engelbert Lap (1886 - 1970). And it was love at first sight.

As it happens, I now prefer the blues and greens of the one you can see to the browns and blues and golds of the one I own. And this says more than enough about the Engelbert Lap who was destined from an early age to join the Austrian army. From a military secondary school, he went on to the Theresian Military Academy in Vienna then joined the Tyrolean Kaiserjaeger as a lieutenant in 1907. He fought on the Galician and Dolomites fronts during the first war, retiring in 1923.

Being an artist in post-war Austria probably wouldn't have been the easiest way of making a living unless you had married an aristocrat like Norbertine von Bresslern Roth. Carl Rotky was a doctor; Emma Schlangenhausen painted frescoes; Emma Bormann had her academic job; Lap had his army pension but, so far as I can see, no training whatsoever as a professional artist. This is what makes the immaculate printing of the work I have propped up on a chair beside me so remarkable. Much less remarkable is the drawing of the church in the print above. It's insipid. You only have to compare Siccard Redl's unforgettable little woodcut of a chapel in the Tyrol (see Jospehine Siccard Redl: lost images of a lost province, February, 2011) and the way she integrates the building into the style of the picture to understand Lap's limitations and weaknesses - and the way he understood his strengths.

There are two points I want to make here: it was necessary for him to make a living and he obviously wished to do a good job. He had started off as a watercolour painter and progressed to woodcut. The days of the Secession, with its enthusiams and rejection of specialisms, were long gone. Unlike Carl Moll who had been painting away merrily for years untill he took it into his head to make a few faintly peculiar woodcuts around 1905, once Lap had hit on colour woodcuts, he stayed with them. Truth to nature? Plein air? Do me a favour. He could change the colourways of a print as it suited him, as he had done with mine, without concerning himself with the actual shade of either the mountains or the sky. This is about as far from the approach taken by Ethel Kirkpatrick as you can get.

As I said at the start, Lap has immediate appeal. The fact that this wears off once you have seen dozens of them is by the by. The work of artists like Emil Orlik, Emma Bormann and Walther Klemm that appeals to the mind as well as the eye, was by the kind of people who could go off and get secure jobs in universities. Decorative printmakers like Carl Thiemann, Hans Frank and Lap had no other option but to try and make sure their works sold. This is exactly why I found his work such a long way from the Tyrol. Try finding a Bormann or an Orlik in Yorkshire. I don't think you ever will.

He made prints of the farm below from all angles! Some prints look as if they have just been reversed. The same range of peaks appears in one woodcut after another. Sometimes these alpine farms are buried in snow, sometimes they are just buried. You have to admire his chutzpah. And this is exactly the approach that appeals to certain collectors. The variations, once you start to notice them, become a sort a game that makes you feel quite clever. All the same, every collection needs to have one. I can guarantee the pleasure; I cannot guarantee the price.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Adventures at the Vienna zoo


Here is the perfect excuse to post two very recent finds - what I hope is a cleaner image of LH Jungnickel's Tigerkopf from 1909 and yet another of his unpredictable maccaws. The excuse was provided today by Neil's very welcome article about the merits of another Austrian printmaker, Norbertine von Bresslern Roth. I was disappointed that no one really took isssue with me at the time, so please look at I have also changed the second image for a better one that I am happy to admit I have just this minute stolen from Lily's seminal blog Japonisme It is also very annoying to find that Lily posted an LHJ tiger image three years ago! That's a double dose of humility for me in one day.

I should also add that the second woodcut is a proof. That's why there are marks and no signature. There are at least two versions, one with a blue macaw, one with a grey-blue one. It may be that he produced different versions for different editions. I think I shall be unable to resist eventually putting together a post dealing with this and Jungnickel's working methods. Stand by.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Vale of Pewsey by Edward Loxton Knight

I thought this was a rare enough colour woodcut by the British artist Edward Loxton Knight to be worth a quick post. It's just come up for sale on British ebay from Jubilee Galleries at the kind of 'Buy it now' price it might go for at auction in Nottingham without exactly being his most stylish work. He adopted a pretty Arnesby-Brownish manner later on and I don't think The Vale of Pewsey is as period as some of the work on my Loxton Knight post (September, 2011). In its favour, it's subtle and ambitious. It's the first out of an edition of 35, I think, still in the original frame and mount, so it is hard to say what the actual condition is - and at that kind of price, it matters. If his earlier work tends to look like colour-by-numbers, then this one is too much like a conventional landscape painting to be that interesting as a print. He just can't win, can he?

Here is a replacement image that I've found with help (see comments) which may show altered colours, I'll put it like that. It will come from a photograph from a catalogue because that's where all these art sites find their images - that or on ebay.  I had this one down as The Trent Valley, which is probably wrong as the Trent valley isn't so heavily wooded. You have to ask yourself if this is just another version or is it just that the top print has faded. I tend to think Loxton Knight was correcting a misjudgement by darkening  the foreground in the lower print because the blue of the valley in the upper print is too pronounced and makes it float upwards. Darkening the clouds had the same effect. I think the improvements work and that number two is the better print. It goes to show what care Loxton Knight took with his woodcuts.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Siegfried Berndt

If Emil Orlik went all the way to Japan to learn the art of woodcut, then Siegfried Berndt (1880 - 1946) did the next best thing: he went to Scotland. He was born in Goerlitz in the far south-east of Germany in 1880. If  he had been born in 1889 as some people seem to think, he would have been nine years old when he entered the Academy of Fine Art in Dresden and although he came out as a prizewinner, even Berndt wasn't that sort of prodigy.

I've started this post off with two versions of Auf der Rehde (the topmost is from 1925, the one below from 1911) to try and give some idea of what kind of an artist we are dealing with here: someone willing to try out new ideas and someone who was willing to learn. At Dresden between 1899 and 1906, a leading student of the landscape painter Eugen Bracht (1842 - 1921), he had also managed to become an accomplished printmaker. My hunch is that, like Orlik, he had to pick things up where he could. Winning a travel scholarship in 1907 certainly gave him the chance to study far away from the academy.

Paris was an essential stop-off on the itinerary and Bruckenlandscahft von St Cloud shows an artist who has not only learned from Japanese woodblock but an artist who was well-aware of the lessons of French impression. But what strikes me most about this work is the freedom of his handling. This is still a painter's work, with none of the graphic qualities we associate with C19th Japanese printmaking. In fact, I will say this now: I think talk of the influence of Japanese art on Berndt has been overdone. I don't know if this print was made in France or when he returned to Germany. He also visited Belgium.

But Scotland is far more intriguing. I certainly can't think of any German or Austrian printmaker that made Scotland the subject of one print let alone two. In Hafen von Stranraer  he moves sideways into the spare, muted territory of the German printmaker Wilhelm Laage. Unfortunately, I was unable to track down an image of Brucke uber der Firth of Forth but Edinburgh is nearer to home. The idea that fascinates me is this one: Frank Morley Fletcher has become director of the Edinburgh College of Art in 1906 and I am guessing this is what took Berndt as far as Scotland. He wanted to learn from someone who was working in the Japanese manner. (By then Orlik was not). I also think that Orlik's Japanese prints were too literal for what Berndt wanted.

This woodcut is seriously Japanese but is seriously German as well. The sketchiness of the details also remind me of Fletcher. The glorious print below does not. This makes me think of Ponte degli Alpini by a Scotsman, Charles Hodge Mackie (1862 - 1920). What I suppose I am saying is that Berndt was somewhere between magpie and chamaeleon. It's another way of saying he was modern.

I am also going to say now that I am a late convert to the work of  Siegfried Berndt despite the nice noises I have made elsewhere online. (Look if you dare). I thought his prints were hesitant and amateurish but there is nothing like the kind of photographs you get on ebay to give the worst impression possible of any artist let alone a more experimental one like Berndt. So I didn't look farther.

It would be very easy to play spot-the-artist with Berndt. It's a temptation I'm going to resist. What I will say is that he must surely have known the work of the impressionists as well as Cezanne and Van Gogh. The three cows are starker than Walther Klemm would have done them but I think he knew Klemm's early woodcuts. (Klemm taught in Weimar from 1913 onwards). The strong colours and high horizon are Klemm with the Vienna Secession removed. The use of other artists is a key to his prolific printmaking - remember that he was also painting.

I am going to leave you to make up your own minds about the rest of these strong and varied prints. Yes, he often does boats and water but he is far less susceptible to the old standby of snow. (I held a snow scene back, partly because the image was murky). I don't really know a great deal about his life or career after he returned to Dresden. He married and between 1932 and 1941 taught at Waldorfschule. There must be other written sources in German somewhere and his prints are still available. A commercial Berlin gallery held an exhibition of his woodcuts from 1905 to 1945 only last August.

I know he came to monchrome woodcuts after the first war, surely influenced by the contemporary work first of Die Brucke and then the Expressionists. This says alot about his willingness to adapt. But true to form, he amalgamates with aplomb. Because there is Cezanne and van Gogh in the mix as well as art deco. (Those two artists I have to say come over more in his oil paintings). And with facility like that, it's no wonder he won prizes. [I forgot to say I nned to credit Annex Galleries for the 1925 version of Auf der Ruhe.]