23 March 2014

A miscellany of colour woodcuts (before 1930)

Walter J. Phillips (1884-1963) was my introduction to colour woodcuts, encountered at the Bow Museum in Calgary. He had moved to Canada from Scotland, and was able to make a living through his art even during the Depression. See his oeuvre at sharecom.ca/phillips/ and read his "The technique of the colour woodcut" (1926) here.
Karlukwees (1926) by Walter J Phillips - "the snow was artistic licence" (via)
New to me in this technical niche is George Scott Ingles, encountered serendipitously online at the excellent "Modern Printmakers" blog (from which most of these images are borrowed). He too came from Scotland, graduating from the Royal College (in London) in 1900. A teacher, mostly at the Leicester School of Art, he started making woodcuts in his 50s, exhibiting them 1927-30. His output is not huge.

Some more prolific woodcut makers, encountered while hopping from link to link for this post - John Platt (1886-1967), Kenneth Broad, Ethel Kirkpatrick (1869-1966), Ida Kirkpatrick (1867-1950), Allen Seaby (1867-1953), Edward Loxton Knight (1905-1993), Mabel Royds (1874-1941), Meryl Watts (1910 - 1992) ... there are a plethora, and this little listing is the tip of the iceberg. Choosing a few images from the many now available on the internet is a bit random, but might whet the appetite to see more....
"The Coach" by Kenneth Broad is based on a wooden model he owned (via)
Mabel Royds based some of her woodcuts on her travels in India and Tibet
John Platt taught at the Blackheath School of Art (from 1929) and started making woodcuts in 1916. "The Giant Stride" is seminal (via)
As well as London, Ethel Kirkpatrick made woodcuts of St Ives, Venice, Switzerland...
Often with these artists, no one seems to know when they learned to make colour woodcuts, but they certainly seem to be linked through art schools attended or taught at.

Frank Morley Fletcher (1866-1949) had a successful teaching career based on practical knowledge of woodblock printing in the Japanese manner. He published a handbook, Woodblock Printing, in 1916. His followers became known as "the Anglo-Japanese".
Fletcher's  Flood-gates was published in 1898 (via)
The Colour Woodcut Society had its first exhibition in 1920 and eighth in 1927 - some exhibitors: John Platt, Allen Seaby, Yoshihjiro Urushibara, Lizzie Austen Brown, Geraldine Maunsell, Mary Creighton McDowall, Phillip Needell, Arthur Rigden Read, Arabella Rankin, Ethel Kirkpatrick. The secessionist Society of Graver-Printers in Colour (more than just woodcuts, colour intaglio also) was having its 14th annual exhibition in 1929

William Nicholson saw some woodblocks in a bookshop in the very early 1890s, the story goes, "planed down a surface of a piece of wood, and set about altering the course of European printmaking with a penknife and a nail." Woodblocks had been used for printing chapbooks - cheap literature; "Nicholson adapted the chapbook style with inventiveness and panache."

Although British interest in colour woodcuts originated in the late 19th century Japonism movement and ukiyo-e woodcuts, this interest - and the technique -  wasn't confined to the UK, but affected artists in Europe and the USA.
Campbell Grant studied under Fletcher at Santa Barbara in 1930 and went on
 to work as an animator for Walt Disney
Some German practitioners: Paul Leschhorn (1876-1951), Hans Neumann (1873 - 1957), Oscar Droege (1898 - 1982), Emil Orlik (1870-1932)
Orlik's Gossiping Women, 1896
"A unique sense of varying light and atmosphere" in Leschhorn's woodcuts

1 comment:

Connie Rose said...

I love woodcuts! You didn't mention Japan's Hukosai and Germany's Albrecht Durer.