Wednesday, 28 September 2011

John Platt: art & the engineer

You are a first year engineering student at the university of Manchester. One day a lecturer suggests you become an architect because you draw so well. But you drop architecture and decide on the life of an artist instead. Look at this wonderful photograph of IK Brunel and J Scott Russell taken at the launch of the SS Great Eastern at Millwall in 1858 and you will see the heroic image of the Victorian engineer. Was John Platt (1886 - 1967) just an imaginative young man who someone recognised would never be one of them?

He trained from 1903 to 1909, eventually graduating from the Royal College of Art. He had also become a fellow of the national society of art masters and we have to assume he had always intended to become a teacher. Even more interesting is this: he made no colour woodcuts untill his time in the army (1914 - 1918).  In Derbyshire, near Matlock (1917) was only his third. It isn't any easier to try and work out how an officer in the British army began to make exceptional prints as it is to identify exactly where he found this view. But it is recognisably Platt in its love of detail and the distance.


By the time he came to cut The Giant Stride in 1918, he was taking one of the biggest steps in modern British printmaking. Here, at only his fourth attempt, he made one of the most memorable and dramatic images of all. Almost everything went into it: his own children, his tremendous draughtsmanship, his fascination for dynamics, his love of the sea and boats. (The image is poor but that's a sailing ship and a steam ship in the distance.) It's one of those seminal works that artist's create from time to time: an image of the creative act itself.


It took him another two years to come up with Snow in springtime (1920). There was a print called Dawn in 1918 but with few proofs printed. His prints were a success but he was hardly prolific. He is very far from the modern artist knocking off bold, experimental images. All his printmaking life he remained true to the ideals of craftsmanship. But he also had to make a living as a teacher, moving from one art college to another: Harrogate, Derby then to Edinburgh in 1920.

This was a bold enough move in itself because Frank Morley Fletcher appointed him to the part-time post of head of applied arts, partly on the strength of  two very good prints. His training was wide but his experience actually strikes me as limited. No matter, he was there in Edinburgh alongside two of the best contemporary printmakers - Mabel Royds and Fletcher himself. It's this woodcut, The Scrum (1921) that convinces me that it was the heroic that captivated his imagination. There is already a strong feel for it in the exhuberance of children's play. But here we have the ancient Greek hero, controposto and all, turned out in a Scotland team jersey. The image comes from the time he spent in Edinburgh and this must show a game there, against either England or Wales, I assume - there is always more to Platt than meets the eye. He thought about his images with care. It's also highly original. Try and imagine Siegfried Berndt sketching at Murrayfield while he was studying in Scotland. But at least Berndt made three woodcuts of Scotland. What Platt gives us, though, isn't the Scottish landscape; it's the Scottish people (and their neighbours).

With Staithes, Yorkshire (1927) we are on woodcut number sixteen only. Six of those, including this one, take boats and harbours as their subject. The first was The jetty, Sennen Cove from December, 1921, the same year as The scrum. Most are humble fishing boats and trawlers, though there are also more exotic craft at St Tropez. What we never get is the sheer obvious love of it all so apparent in the work of Ethel Kirkpatrick and Siccard Redl. This image is a module, a set of interrelationships between form, colour and perspective. I chose this image, which is well-known, because heroism is still implied in the life of the people who live and work at Staithes. With Platt we are captivated by his sheer skill but should not forget there is also a teacher at work.


Teacher, and also father, because I wonder if the young woman shown here in The fruit harvest adopting a truly classical and heroic pose, is his daughter, Anthea. She would have been seventeen when he produced this copper engraving in November, 1929. Few artists, as I've said before, master both relief and intalgio methods. Platt did, but I think the engravings give away some of the weaknesses less apparent in his colour woodcuts. And I mean something of a well-made but sterile feel you find so often in the work of artists who are also teachers. The young woman stares away from us much like the young rugby player but is more impersonal than him. She is as absorbed in herself as the children were. Platt, like the smaller children, looks on - and makes us look, too.

I must acknowledge a considerable debt to Hilary Chapman's The colour woodcuts of John Edgar Platt (1999) and also credit Annex Galleries for In Derbyshire, near Matlock.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Two tales from ebay: Katsunori Hamanishi

And as we were talking about the Japanese mezzotint artist, Katsunori Hamanishi, here are two smallish bookplates by him up for sale on Dutch ebay. I'm afraid I was unable to enlarge the images onsite so this was the best I could do. He a master, fastidious and compelling, and this is an opportunity at a starting bid of €19.50 - not too bad because I think I paid about £17 for one. All his ex libris are signed. No bids as yet but the auction finishes about 8.30 pm tomorrow.There are two others. If you aren't familiar with his work, there are lots of images online.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Tales from ebay: Ohara Koson

And as if by magic a photograph so poor I had to check the signature against my own prints. But to me this looks like Ohara Koson. It's on ebay in Germany, comes up, I think, on Wednesday and still stands at €1, believe it or not. The drawback? As ever with German sellers, he doesn't take PayPal. (You try to explain to them my bank charges £25 for an international money order but to no effect).

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Meryl Watts, John Platt & Blackheath School of Art

John Platt (1886 - 1967) arrived at his last teaching job in 1929 when he was forty-three. Before he came to Blackheath, he had held senior positions at Edinburgh College of Art as head of applied arts (1920 - 1923) and at Leicester College of Art as principal (1923 - 1929). It was the part-time position at Blackheath that attracted him, probably as it had done at Edinburgh. He had begun to make colour woodcuts in 1916 but had produced only seventeen by the time he settled into his top-floor studio, smock and all, in south London.

He wasn't prolific; he was meticulous instead. He had started out training as an engineer at Manchester University but was persuaded to go for the art option on the strength of his drawing - and please bear in mind that this was technical drawing, he wasn't at the Slade or anywhere.  I say all this so you can get a feel for the kind of regime that Meryl Watts (1910 - 1992) found herself in when she enrolled. When this was, I don't know for sure - about 1930. She was good enough by 1933 to be accepted as a member of the Society of Graver-Printers in Colour.

My hunch is that the fuzzy snow-scene you can see above was her first version of the school building. It has something rather strict in common with this kitchen interior, below, and another woodcut she made of a flower seller. Both of these prints rely heavily on the keylock for definition. The interesting thing about her view of the school is that the keyblock is only used to frame the print. This must be the influence of Platt himself. Also interesting is the way she simplifies the facade, removing the brick arches above the first and second floor windows but then adding pediments on the top floor windows. (The image is reversed). Nor does she differentiate between the two types of brick.


Platt had gradually begun to abandon the use of the keyblock between 1927 and 1932 and in the top image you can see the effect on his student in her use of planes of flat colour and recession to build up the picture. I also think that the collage, below, was work produced by her as a student under Platt's instruction. Though I have no proof of this it is her work.


A number of these tissue collages her by exist, all using the muted greens and brows that became so prevalent in the 1930s. (This one is remarkably similar to his woodcut Sails, 1933). We might see a more subtle sign of his influence in the way she made three versions of her woodcut of the school building. This was very much in line with Platt's own method. It took him so long to produce prints, it's no wonder he then made alternative versions. But her own print is so simple by comparision, in some ways it hardly merits that kind of attention.

I don't want to disparage Watts too much by drawing attention to this parental figure. All the same, it's striking that 1930 was quite late in the day to start learning colour woodcut. (And I don't know of anyone else who was taught the technique by Platt at this time). Having said that, I like the blue image, which ignores alot of the architectural detail, the best. You have to work out for yourself if it is the third one she made.


But was the influence all one way? Platt's approach had begun to change before he arrived at Blackheath and I've already suggested that it was Charles Paine's use of animal imagery that had a decisive influence on Platt. We have no way of knowing really what he learned from his student's work. But by the time Watt's came to make her Chestnut Seller she could make an image just as striking as Platt's - and, let's face it, he did make some of the most memorable images in British printmaking. It's hardly any wonder she stayed so long in his shadow. Her own father owned a printing works nearby. She wasn't one to stray too far from home. As I said, I would think all these images are local to her.


Even her pelican was nearby. She only had to go to St James Park in London to find them on the lake. Platt or no Platt, this is a fine image, with a lovely use of the grain of the wood at the bottom. Subtle, modern, modulated, beautifully modelled, she has got into her stride. I think it is just a shame that as she moved on to north Wales, the oddness of her images starts to prevail. Flounder I like less.


It is less modern that it looks. It's a pretty picture rather than analysis. To me, her later work shows she never really understood the modernist outlook - or that she just abandoned it, the way one abandons the keyblock. The print is also the work of a modeller. (She studied under the sculptor, James Woodford).

In some ways she was the permanent student and once  away from the institution, she loses direction. These two later prints of the Welsh landscape, for all their skill, are a touch stilted and fussy. I wonder also whether Flounder shows the influence of yet another of her teachers, the designer of stained glass, Charles Paine? Who knows? It is a refractory work nonetheless; everything shines through.




Thursday, 22 September 2011

Tales from ebay: The Vitava at Prague

I wouldn't  want to give anyone the idea that I have a down on seller's on ebay because I don't. And here is a post about the downside to selling prints on the site. I hasten to add the proof above, The Vitava at Prague (1928), a colour woodcut by John Platt, was not for sale on ebay. This one was sold by the well-known Oxfordshire dealer, Elizabeth Harvey Lee, to HM Government in 1995 and it now hangs on the walls of our embassy in Prague. The proof that was sold last week on ebay is the one you see below.

I think we can take it as given that buyers for the British Government collection do not go looking for bargains on ebay. They will go to dealers like Lee for unframed prints in very good condition and expect to pay her much higher prices. This in itself must be pretty galling for the recent seller, stiveshouseart, (and I hope they don't mind me using their image). The seller put the print in at the reasonable starting bid of £60. It sold for the bargain price of only £75. I must admit I was surprised - I certainly thought it would go higher and I expect stiveshouseart were pretty disappointed. Platt is a very good printmaker and it should have fetched more. So what happened?

As I have found out for myself, taking photos of subtle works on paper like this woodcut is by no means a simple thing to do. To start with, you would need the patience of Job and a very steady hand (and a good deal of luck) to get the image perfectly square. But when it comes to the tones of the work - they are almost impossible to reproduce. I assume the government image is the work of a professional and that the colours are close to the original - but I don't know. By comparison, the ebay image is too green and the distortion is offputting. I also know from experience that any little creases or defects on japan of the kind you can see bottom right are certainly exaggerated by the camera. But their photo also gives some very important information: it shows the deckle edge on the right, which lets us know the margins are the ones that Platt intended. (Artists tened to leave the deckle edge margin deeper).

To sell a work, the image needs to be good. I remember Clive buying his Source of the Clitumnus by William Giles and saying afterwards it was the ropey photograph that gave him a bargain buy. The one here is better  but I think you can see the difficulties. This wasn't a specialist print dealer; it was someone who wanted to sell and was rather unlucky. Whoever bought it probably knew the full impact of Platt's image - and no amount of sales talk is going to get that over. As I've said earlier this week, I don't admire the kind of seller who expects the buyer to take all the risks by putting a print in at an inflated starting price. I learned the ropes at Arthur Johnson's auction house down at the cattle market in Nottingham. It was known as a place where the trade would place gear they couldn't shift elsewhere. Ebay can be like that, too.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A day on the Thames with Ethel Kirkpatrick & Sylvan Boxsius

I wouldn't blame you for thinking these two artists have very little in common. The one adapted the plein air marine tradition to woodcut in the Japanese manner, the other was a teacher and master of faux-naif linocut of considerable sophistication. But they have an unexpected subject in common simply because they were probably born less than a mile from one another. The Cornwall artists index have Kirkpatrick born at Coldbath Fields Prison in Clerkenwell (although the only record I have seen says she was born in Holborn). Either way, the Boxsius family lived nearby in the City and I assume that Sylvan Boxsius that he was born there too. This helps to explain why we have this strange-looking boat that looks marooned.

It's a Thames sailing barge, something both artists must have been familar with. Boxsius spent much of his life in London and for a number of years worked at Bolt Court in Fleet St only a few hundred yards from the river. Although Kirkpatrick left London when she was young, she returned from St Ives in 1906 to live at the family house at Harrow-on-the-Hill - not exactly London but near enough. And I use this photograph partly to show you just how well Boxsius picked up both the colours of the boats and those of the riverbank.

Kirkpatrick made this image of the river Thames in 1911, at a time when it was a busy port and the red-sailed barges were still familar. I suspect that the approach that Boxsius took was a little more complex. He is very much an artist of distance and memory. His barge looks landlocked. They were at use on canals as well as along the coast but this one looks like a museum piece. This isn't a lively image of the river he knows so much as the one that he remembers.

This is the William and Ann taken about 1884. Boxsius would have been very familar with what you see here. He was eight years old the day this barge sailed up the Thames (Kirkpatrick was fourteen) but his linocut of the barge must certainly date from the mid 1920s, over forty years later.

Even so, there are very few identifiable views of the river by Boxsius. Here is Kew Bridge. I never noticed untill I prepared for this post that there is a barge moored beside the bridge. It is classic Boxsius, with its rather reticent use of colour and recession. You only have to compare a print like this with the contemporary work of Claude Flight to see there were credible alternatives to the Grosvenor School.

I assume that these sharper images belong to the 1930s. Evening on the water may well show the Thames estuary. The woodcut below has been described as showing both the Thames and the Clyde but as these are sailing barges, I now tend to think we are looking across the Thames but I just don't know that area well enough to really say.

Either way, you can compare this photo with Kirkpatrick's woodcut. For all her stylisation, both in form and colour, she remains true to the boats. She merely adapts them, the way she adapts the trees in the foreground, to her own style. But then that is what I like about both of them as artists - the balance between style and observation. I would like to say definitely that that is the Greenwich Observatory you can see on the hill but I can't commit myself quite so far, not just yet.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

More tales from ebay

I thought I may as well go on with my recent trawl through British ebay with this image by Hans Frank with the far-fetched starting bid of £150 (or as Clive would say delusional starting bid). I will tell you all now, the University of Wales offloaded this hapless woodcut some time last year for quite alot less. And I would do the same with the one that I own but I can't be bothered to go through the rigmarole. I have tried over the years to like this print and failed. As Hans Frank goes, it's pretty tedious. It did serve as a model for Arthur Rigden Read's Stormy Seas, which is about the best thing I can say for it - and that isn't much. This print was sold in the British provinces and is pretty common here. Mine originally came from George Nobel in Nottingham who sold alot nicer things by Frank to the Castle Museum but theirs have succumbed to the Frank foxing. [To my utter astonishment, it sold for £150 - to an Austrian buyer, I think. He could have had mine for half the price.]

I wouldn't normally have included the Morton twin's Spring Rhapsody here but, as it happens, the dealer has seen fit to include a helpful photo of The Nottingham Journal which had been used by Boots the Framers to back the thing. Goodness knows why but I think we can safely conclude that Nobel's flogged this print as well. Today, on ebay? £99 is the starting bid. A mild improvement on Frank but not much. These are exactly the kinds of colour woodcuts that were churned out, are pretty common by comparison with, say, Kenneth Broad or Ada Collier, who were just so much better. Incidentally, look carefully at those photographs of Concord and Cavendish. I am pretty sure the paper has been well trimmed. This would decrease the value enormously.

Shall we start at twenty-five? OK, ten. [Unsold. But it's back].


I also must  add Julia Mavrogordato's Autumn at an eye-watering start of £180 with a description that implies she was a Grosvenor School artist. Who are these people trying to kid? No one, the seller included, has any idea whether Mavrogordato had even heard of the Grosvenor School, let alone studied with Flight. First you try and suggest an artist has been missed and then whack on a starting bid of £180? Plus it has been framed. It's about as Grosvenor School as I am.  [Even so, it did sell, as Clive predicted it would - £190.]

Monday, 19 September 2011

Tales from ebay: Dorothy Woollard

Dorothy Woollard (1886 - 1986) is the kind of artist who has a website all to herself and for reasons best known only to the person who set it up. There she is described with wild inaccuracy as 'a forgotten star of the etching revival'. She was never a star and almost everyone from that wonderful period was forgotten for quite a few years as Gerrie, Clive and myself have all but constantly pointed out. But then quite alot about her is improbable - especially her dates.

But today, we have a much less common colour woodcut that I finally could resist no longer. It appears for a second time on British ebay at the very hopeful starting bid of £125. It is easy to mock, of course, but the Woollard website did point out that her colour woodcuts were made in collaboration with an old favourite of ours, Eric Hesketh Hubbard. This polymath, after his move to Ringwold in Hampshire, set up the Forest Press with Frank Whittington. I believe Whittington sometimes did the printing; he certainly sometimes signed the works with Hubbard. Theirs was a collaboration which I admire but which never quite succeeded in going beyond the popular, quirky, rustic and antiquarian.

This woodcut by Woollard is pretty much in line with Hubbard's rather extraordinary set of colour woodcuts showing the gates to Salisbury Cathedral Close in considerable detail. I have one, of course; and I like it. But the woodcut we have here is so much like them - even down to the sudden and inexplicable use of green - I am dubious. Hubbard's woodcuts were all intended to be affordable. The set I am talking about was produced in no less than three qualities. The most flabberghasting thing about these Forest Press prints nowadays is how much people dare ask for them, though. I leave you to decide for yourselves. It would be interesting to have alongside my Hubbard in a portfolio but frankly £125 worth of interest it does not have.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The boats of Venice

So many printmakers working in Venice or on the Adriatic coast in the 1920s have been recently mentioned, I thought it was time to offer a general survey, so far as I could. Even more interestingly, I notice that since the posts about Josephine Siccard Redl went up, at least one print new to me has come up for sale - wrongly described, but more of that later. So, if those posts have caused confusion, here and now, a short course on the old boats of Venice - and the artists who went there and fell for them.

I begin with Siccard Redl's superb image Harbour of Lauranna, Italy. She went to live in the town some time after the Istrian peninsula became a part of Italy in 1919. The boat is a trabaccolo, a small coastal vessel, which was also capable of crossing the Adriatic. (I am sticking with the spelling on an Italian site rather than the one Siccard Redl used.) The image above by the British artist, Ada Collier, is also a trabaccolo. I don't know exactly when she visited Venice but it was most likely also in the twenties.

This wonderful photograph of a largish trabaccolo wasn't taken anywhere near Venice but at Manfredonia in Puglia. All the same, it gives a good idea of just how accurate both Siccard Redl and Collier were in their very different representations of that type of vessel. It's this accuracy that fascinates me. If you look at artists as diverse as Frank Brangwyn and Carl Thiemann, you find they are not really interested in the boats themselves so much as the atmosphere they help to create.

And here we find Maud Sherwood making a strict distinction as well. Because this boat is a bragozzo, a smaller, single-masted fishing boat that was only used in the lagoon. Because of the shallows, they necessarily rode higher in the water. The trabaccoli also needed careful positioning of the masts (and sails) to deal with the sudden squalls that arise in the Mediterranean.

The bragozzi were, of course, well known for their brightly-coloured sails and Helen Tupke Grande made the best of them in what is probably her most well-known colour woodcut. The markings on the sails varied but the triangular areas at the top of the sail and large spots were common.

None of the markings are obvious in this photograph of a bragozzo taken, I think, at Venice. It's interesting to see how closely the mooring posts resemble the ones shown by Collier. I think you can see that it is basically a smaller version of a trabaccolo.

 I think it is also pretty clear that there is more than one sail. And although the image by Siccard Redl, above, has been described as being two boats, I suspect it is only one. I make no claim to expertise but Siccard Redl knew what she was doing. The only artist to differentiate as much as she did between different types of boat was Ethel Kirkpatrick herself.

Which brings us to this classic image of a trabaccolo with its sails lowered by Sicard Redl. For comparison, I include this tremendous photograph of a trabaccolo at sea. It looks as if the man in front of the mast is lowering the sail.

And even if Kirkpatrick doesn't quite fit in with these women artists of the 1920s, it was necessary all the same to include this small woodcut by her to show the way she also knew and loved her boats. For this is a topo, a small fishing boat with a shallow draught, ideal for the waters of the lagoon. (There are also prints by Siccard Redl of this type of boat). I very much like the way she is quite clear about the water the boat is navigating, with its sandbanks and bouys. This is the work of a marine artist as much as that of an imagist.

And last, but not least, the two main types of boats docked side by side, with the broad bottom and deeper draught of the trabaccolo an obvious contrast to the lighter fishing boats. And, just in case you were wondering, Siccard Redl's image of the bragozzo is for sale at even though they describe it as a trabaccolo. My fault, to some extent, for not doing my own research alot sooner. Even so, when I come to cross the Adriatic in January, from Vlore in Albania to Brindisi, I sincerely hope it will be in neither of them.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Astrid Meyer

As an antidote to the chic modernism of the Grosvenor School and just to prove that anything as advanced as linocut could take a realistic turn, a print by Astrid Meyer. The Brooklyn Museum have her down as an Australian artist and this could well be true. But this kitchen interior doesn't look like Australia (not to me, at least). The asymetrical modernist framing device sets the tone for the print and I love the details she provides: the glimpse of face in the mirror, the butcher's block covered in newspaper with loaf and teapot, the red quarry tiles on the sill, the single tap of cold water. She is closest to the woodcuts of Janet Fisher, with her clogs and stew-pots, but Meyer comes over as better informed and less sentimental than those early genre woodblocks. I also like the way she includes so much wood on this linocut. The array of lines and angles she uses, coupled with the round shapes of plates and mirror, are subtle. She doesn't try too hard. But it is the absorption of the figure, in her skivvie's uniform, that is most telling, the way we look in on her. This back-view, with the crossed apron straps, is unusual but throws our attention onto all those details that tell us what her working life is like.


The nice mix of modernism and the domestic continues in this chalk drawing of tulips in a glass vase. As do the unassertive colours. It is very thirties and of course the only date for her work that I've come across is 1931.  She also made at least one woodcut of a fishing village and there is another  linocut called Waiting for the train. It sounds as though they all left from the same station. Again, I'm sorry about the terrible reflections but I leave it to readers to sort out Meyer's modernism from chance images of what looks like an auction house bay. Ah, well. It's the best I could do.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Maud Sherwood: Mediterranean life

Here is a photograph of Maud Sherwood (1880 - 1956) taken in January, 1912, soon after her arrival in London.  Behind her was a teaching post at Wellington Technical College and a career as an artist in far-off New Zealand; in front of her, the studios of Paris, a painting trip in southern England, including a stay in St Ives. (Like Ethel Kirkpatrick, she was a watercolourist, though Kirkpatrick had almost certainly left St Ives before she arrived). Eventually she made her way to the real plein air McCoy, Concarneau in Brittainy. She was not to stay.

In 1913, she took the boat for Sydney, got married, her marriage lasted three years, and with a divorce settlement agreed, in 1926 she once again left for Europe. But this time things were very different. She was no longer the colonial with her certificate and prizes from the South Kensington School. She ignored England and disembarked at Naples, making straight for a villa on Capri owned by American friends. This time, Maud Sherwood was cosmopolitan.

Just how sophisticated she had become, you can judge by this watercolour drawing of Bagno Vicenzo on Capri. If there are elements of the British humourist W Heath Robinson, it is confident, witty and chic. This is what makes that first colour print of hers, the Venetian fishing boats, of so much value. Some time soon after her arrival, someone had showed her how to make woodcuts. I don't know who but her boats are very much like the work of Ada Collier.  It's been described as both linocut and woodcut and dated to both 1926 and 1927. It may be a first print but it is one that I would buy without hesitation. She uses her new technique with the spontaneity and vigour that is typical of all of her best work.

Look at the ragged cutting of the shutters and masonry in Cafe du Pont. It is fully 3-dimensional in conception, with a blatant sense of light and shadow. It might at first glance look quite conventional but she has gone about it in a way that disregards both teaching and convention. She takes her subject by storm. I think it's 5 from an edition of 75.

I wonder how many she finally sold. Because by 1927, her ex-husband was already writing from Sydney to say his health was poor and business wasn't good ie she was a long way away and he wasn't paying her allowance. So far as I know, she had made no prints before she left Australia (and she made very few when she eventually returned) and I have to conclude they were an economic fact. She had to diversify and make some money. Her subjects, if they aren't saleable vases of flowers, are local colour and differ from the landscapes and beach picnics that make up ther main body of her work in watercolour.

The potentially Fauve direction she could have taken after Venetian fishing boats, she doesn't exactly follow through. Two flowers in a vase makes me think of William Nicholson if he had only gone art deco. And I like it very much. Beautifully realised, even the subtle mauve-grey of the keyblock works with the dominant greens and pinks. She may have been new to it all but she knew she didn't have to be satisfied with black.

She was quite prepared to try other techniques. Spanish buildings, the dynamic and dramatic work above is a monotype. Not my favourite technique I have to say (so much so I am even dubious about the description) but this is a terrific work, with the same ragged effects of light and shade we saw in Cafe du Pont. Less stylised than Brangwen and not as languid as Sergeant, I find it quite incredible that she could make a montype look like an etching. Which brings me to this ambiguous print called The dancer.

Now, I didn't take to this at first but I think it is a subtle variation on what is the primary subject of her prints (and quite often her other work). I mean women, of course. There certainly are elements here of Toulouse Lautrec that makes it look like a 1960s work and you may draw your own conclusions. The ambiguities don't rest there because the work has been described as an aquatint. It has the tone and texture of one but I haven't come across her using the etching proces anywhere else, the signature is too close to the image to allow for a platemark and you can see overprinting at the top left. So, I think it must be a relief print, which makes it all the more original.

Both of these prints Spanish market woman and Seated peasant (I do begin to wonder about these titles) have both been described as linocuts. The top one is certainly hand-coloured and I assume the same is true of the one below. Sometimes the same image occurs both in monochrome and with colouring. Presumably, one cost more than the other. Either way, the cutting isn't so very far away from Raoul Dufy, especially the flowers and also the baskets. Again, it may strike you as fairly conventional but the method is dynamic, so it's frustrating that I have only been able to come up with three fully conceived colour prints as opposed to this type that depend heavily on the keyblock, which she could hand colour. There are other subjects, dated untill 1930 (she finally left Europe for good in 1933) but I have to asume they are basically monochrome from the titles (Three men watching bowls, Seller of fried chillies etc). It all depends how many made their way back to Australia where her mother and sister had moved to. And how many she left behind her here.