Lucas van Leyden

Lucas van Leyden, “The Standard Bearer”, circa 1510, Engraving, 11.8 x 7 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Lucas van Leyden, “The Pilgrims”, circa 1508, Engraving, 15.1 x 11.9 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Painter and printmaker Lucas van Leyden was born in the city of Leiden in the province of South Holland, the Netherlands. He was among the first Dutch artists of genre painting, an accomplished engraver and woodcut printmaker. 

There is some controversy over the date of his birth as there is no confirming documentary evidence available. Finnish painter and art historian Karel van Mander suggests that Lucas was born in 1494 and was a prodigy having executed, in 1508 at the age of fourteen, his earliest dated engraving “Mohammed and the Monk Sergius”. Other scholars believe it more likely that Lucas was born circa 1489, which would have made him nineteen years old at the execution of the early print.

Outside of his existing dated artwork, there is very little historical documentation of Lucas van Leyden’s life. He is first mentioned in a 1514 register as a member of the civil guard in Leiden. In both 1515 and 1519, Lucas’s name appears in a list of crossbowmen for the city of Leiden. It is known that Lucas married Elisabeth van Boschhuysen, the daughter of a Leiden magistrate, sometime around 1515.

There is equally some controversy on the artistic training of Lucas van Leyden as there is very little documentation on his relationship with the two men responsible for his training. It is likely Lucas  received his first instructions in art from his father, Huygh Jacobsz, who is listed in Leyden’s municipal archives as being a painter in the city in 1480. There is evidence that Lucas was in the workshop of Cornelis Engelbrechtsz, who is considered the first important painter from the city of Leyden. 

Several scholars believe that Lucas van Leyden’s early paintings and engravings suggest that he had entered Engebrechtsz’s workshop with an already well-developed personal style, most likely influenced  by the teachings of his father. Lucas was familiar with the numerous works of the engraver Marcantonio Raimondi, whose motifs Lucas reworked in his early paintings and engravings. Raimondi’s studies of nudes inspired Lucas in his later works, particularly in his altarpieces where he was an early adapter of the Italian-style nude figure. 

Lucas was friends with and influenced by both master engraver Albrecht Dürer and Romanist painter Jan Gossaert. Albrecht Dürer’s diary entry and his silverpoint portrait drawing of Lucas, now in the Musée Wicar in Lille, confirm the two artists met each other in Antwerp in 1521. According to Karel van Mander, Lucas made a second journey through the southern Netherlands, circa 1527, at which time  he met Jan Gossaert in the city of Middleburg.

Lucas van Leyden is thought to have developed the technique of etching on copper, instead of iron, plates. The softness of the copper plate made it possible to combine etching and line engraving in the same print. One of the earliest examples of Lucas’s use of this technique is his 1521 portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor Masimilian. Lucas was also among the first engravers to use an aerial perspective in his prints.

Seventeen paintings directly attributed to Lucas van Leyden survive in collections; a further twenty-seven paintings are known through contemporary copies or drawings of them made by printmaker and publisher Jan de Bisschop in the later seventeenth-century. From 1513 to 1517, Lucas created a series of woodcut engravings called “The Power of Women”, a theme which was extremely popular in Renaissance art and literature. Consisting of two large and small sets of prints, the series includes “Samson and Delilah”, “The Fall of Man” depicting Adam and Eve, and “Herod and Herodias”, shown with their daughter holding the head of John the Baptist on a plate.

Lucas van Leyden’s health deteriorated drastically following his trip to southern Netherlands in 1527. Lucas, who thought he had been poisoned by an envious colleague, was often ill and bedridden. He died in the summer of 1533.

Top Insert Image: Lucas van Leyden, “The Apostle Peter”, circa 1510, Engraving, 11.4 x 6.9 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam,

Middle Insert Image: Lucas van Leyden, “Christ Before Annas”, 1521, Engraving, 11.4 x 7.6 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Bottom Insert Image: Lucas van Leyden, “The Beggars (Eulenspiegel)”, 1520, Etching and Engraving, 17.5 x 14.1 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

John Warner Barber: “Death of Capt. Ferrer”

John Warner Barber, “The Death of Capt. Ferrer”, 1840, Etching, Frontpiece from the “A History of the Amistad Captives”, Unfolded 22.9 x 49.3 cm, Partially Hand-Colored, Private Collection 

Born in East Windsor, Connecticut in February of 1798, John Warner Barber was an engraver and historian whose books of local, state, and national history featured his colorful  illustrations. He learned his craft as an apprentice to East Windsor printmaker Abner Reed, who also was a bank note engraver for the United States and Canada. In 1823, Barber opened a business in New Haven, where he printed religious and historical books, illustrated with his own steel and wood engravings. 

Barber traveled throughout Connecticut, creating ink sketches of town greens, churches, hotels and harbors; he also researched local histories on his travels. From his research, Barber produced in 1836 what is considered the first popular local history book published in the United States, the “Connecticut Historical Collections, Containing a General Collection of Interesting Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches, Anecdotes, Etc. . .”. His pencil sketches were developed into more detailed wash drawings, which in turn were transferred directly to small blocks of boxwood on which he engraved the designs. The book sold well, seven thousand copies in the first year at a cost of what was then an average week’s pay.

In 1840, John W. Barber produced his thirty-two page “ A History of the Amistad Captives: Being a Circumstantial Account of the Capture of the Spanish Schooner Amistad, by the Africans on Board; Their Voyage, and Capture Near Long Island, New York; with Biographical Sketches of Each of the Surviving Africans, Also, an Account of the Trials , , , Compiled from Authentic Sources”. Documenting one of the most important events of its time, Barber’s  book was published the same year of the Amistad trial and its ruling by the New Haven court.

In February of 1839, Portuguese slave hunters abducted hundreds of Africans from what is now present-day Sierra Leone and transported them to Cuba, then a Spanish colony. Spanish plantation owners Pedro Montes and Jose Ruiz purchased fifty-three of the African captives as slaves, forty-nine adult males and four children. On June 28th, Montes and Ruiz with the African captives set sail from Havana on the Amistad, Spanish for ‘friendship’, for their plantations on Puerto Principe.

Several days into the journey, Sengbe Pieh, one of the Africans also known as Joseph Cinque, managed to unshackle himself and his fellow captives. Armed with knives, they seized control of the Amistad and killed the Spanish captain and the ship’s cook. In need of navigation, the Africans ordered Montes and Ruiz to return to Africa; however, the two men  changed the ship’s course in the middle of the night, sailed through the Caribbean and up the eastern coast of the United States. 

On August 26th of 1839, the U.S. Navy brig Washington found the ship anchored off the coast of Long Island to get provisions. The naval officers seized the Amistad, put the Africans back in chains, and escorted the ship to Conneticut, where they would claim salvage rights to the ship and its human cargo. Originally charged with murder and piracy, Cinque and the other Africans were imprisoned in New Haven. Though the charges were dropped, they remained in prison while the courts decided their legal status, as well as the competing property claims by the Washington’s officers, Montes and Ruiz, and the Spanish government. 

In January of 1840, a judge in U.S. District Court in Hartford ruled that the Africans were not Spanish slaves, but had been illegally captured, and should be returned to Africa. After appealing the decision to the Circuit Court, which upheld the lower court’s decision, the U.S. attorney appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard the case in ealry 1841. 

On March 9, 1841, the Supreme Court ruled seven to one to uphold the lower courts’ decisions in favor of the Africans of the Amistad. However, the court did not require the government to provide funds for the Africans’ return voyage, but did award salvage rights for the Amistad to the officers who apprehended it. In November of 1841 after abolitionists raised money for the return voyage, Cinque and the surviving thirty-four Africans of the Amistad, the others either died at sea or in prison awaiting trial, sailed from New York aboard the ship Gentleman to return to their homeland.

James Warner Barber attended the court hearings between January 7th and 13th in 1840 when Judge Andrew Johnson rule that the Africans were illegally transported to Cuba, and thus would not be returned to Montes and Ruis. On the first of April, Barber began drawing the Amistad Africans in jail and, over the next two months, would create drawings and engravings to illustrate his book. Barber drew portraits, from which he engraved silhouettes of the Africans, and added other illustrations to his book, including a map of the Mendi country, home of the Amistad Africans.

Kelly Fearing

Kelly Fearing, “The Lifters”, 1944, Etching, 24.3 x 20.9 cm, Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas

Born in Arkansas in 1918, Kelly Fearing was a painter, print maker, and teacher. He studied art at Louisiana Tech University and New York’s Columbia University, where he earned his Master’s Degree in 1950. He relocated to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1943 and joined the Fort Worth Circle, a progressive art colony, mostly young artists, which was active during the 1940s and 1950s.

Though not defined by a specific aesthetic, the Fort Worth Circle was important for moving beyond the realism and agrarian subject matter of American Regionalism, which dominated Texas art in the 1930s and 1940s. Kelly Fearing and his Fort Worth cohorts were the first artists in the state to respond in a significant way to European artists such as Picasso, Braque, Klee, Kandinsky, Modigliani, Ernst, Klee, and Miro.

After teaching from 1945 to 1947 at Texas Wesleyan, Kelly Fearing assumed the Professorship of Art in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught for forty years. A noted art educator, he  co-authored several multi-volume art education textbooks from 1960 through the 1980s. As a pioneer in art education in America, Fearing founded The University of Texas Junior Art Project, the first visual arts outreach program of its kind in Texas. He became Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas in 1987 and, after  his retirement, continued to work as a professional artist. 

Kelly Fearing worked in almost all traditional mediums, with prominence in oil painting and collage work. The work from his Fort Worth years is abstract in form, surrealistic and filled with allegory., characteristics which would remain throughout the body of his work. Fearing’s art has been referred to as magical realist, mystical naturalist and Romantic surrealist.

Kelly Fearing died on March 13, 2011 from congestive heart failure at the age of ninety-two. More than 80 of his prints and drawings are in the Blanton Museum of Art’s permanent collection.

More works by Kelly Fearing can be found at:

Paul Marc Joseph Chenavard

Paul Marc Joseph Chenavard, “The Divine Tragedy”, Full Canvas and Detail, 1865-1869, Oil on Canvas, 400 x 550 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Paris

Painter Paul Marc Joseph Chenavard was born in Lyon on December 9, 1808, to a bourgeois family of comfortable circumstances. After considering all his possible careers, he decided in favor of art, which took him to Paris in 1825 to begin his studies. Chenavard entered the École des Beaux-Arts in 1825, and studied, alongside his friend and fellow painter Joseph Guichard, in the studio of neoclassicist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and later in the studios of painters Louis Hersent and Eugène Delacroix.

On the advice of Ingres, Chenavard traveled to Italy in 1827 to study the works of the master painters in Florence, Milan, Rome and Venice. In addition, he took interest in the work of the German school, even copying the Nazarene movement’s Johann Friedrich Overbeck’s murals at the Villa Massimi. After two years Chenavard returned to Paris, where he executed his first historical painting, “Luther Before the Diet of Worms”, in which Luther refuses to recant his writings before the assembly of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. 

For the 1831 decorative competition of the Salle des Séances de la Chambre in the Bourbon Palace, Chenavard’s painting, “Marat Apostrophizing the Marquis of Dreaux-Brezé”, received praise from Delacroix and historical painter Antoine-Jean Gros, but it was not acceptable by King Louis Philippe V. In 1841, some time after returning from Rome, Chenavard  exhibited his “Martyrdom of St. Polycarpus”, which was followed five years later by the painting “Dante’s Hell”, similar in style to the dynamic composition and illusionistic perspective seen in the work of Antonio da Correggio. 

An interest in the story of society rapidly became a dominant force in Chenavard’s life to such an extant that he felt contemporary art failed because it ceased to concern itself with greater concepts. Under the influence of German philosophy and painting, he considered art’s aim had to be humanitarian and civilizing. In 1848, the forthcoming decoration work for the Pantheon gave him the opportunity to fulfill that force in his life. Chenavard gathered several assistants, all former students of the Academy in Rome, each of which assisted individually in the design work, whose ideas he combined and redesigned.

In April of 1848, Paul Chenavard presented his plans for the decoration of the Pantheon with a circle of historical subjects. The sketches were approved by Ledru-Rolliin, the Minister of the Interior in the new French revolutionary government. However, a movement soon developed to return the Pantheon to the Church; the Archbishop of Paris, upon seeing Chenavard’s plans, declared the ideas too anticlerical to be accepted, and discontinued the project. In 1885 when the Saint Genevieve church once more became the Pantheon, Chenavard was both too old and angry to resume the task; French art had also, at that time, moved away from his esoteric historical romanticism. 

In 1853, Paul Chenavard was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor; and two years later, at the Universal Exposition in Paris, where a large number of his paintings were shown, he received a first class medal. His next, and last, Salon painting was the 1869 “The Divine Tragedy”, which expressed in veiled terms his anti-religious sentiments and his faith in human reason. Originally placed in Paris’s Salon Carrée where it attracted much attention, it was later moved, possibly at the instigation of the clerical authorities, to an obscure gallery in the rear. With this last disappointment, the public career of Chenavard virtually came to an end.

Paul Chenavard retired to a life of a gentleman of leisure in Lyon, traveling occasionally, but painting very little. His sketches of the Pantheon project were shown together in Lyon in 1876 for the last time, accompanied with a brochure by his friend Charles Blanc. To the city of Lyon, Chenavard left his money, his prints, and his own works. He died in Paris in 1895 and was buried in Lyon’s new Loyasse Cemetery, an burial area with elaborate graves in various architectural styles.  

Insert Images: 

Top: Felix Bracquemond, “Paul Chenavard”, 1860, Etching on Thin Paper, 9.8 x 14.9 cm, British Museum, London

Bottom: Gustave Courbet, “Paul Chenavard, Munich”, 1869, Oil on Canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, France   

Tony Fitzpatrick


Etchings and Collages by Tony Fitzpatrick

Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1958, Tony Fitzpatrick Is an American actor and artist. In the early 1980s, he seriously began drawing with colored pencils on slate boards in the gallery “The Edge”, located in Villa Park, Illinois. Working there during the day, he tended bar at night just across the street. It was during this time that Fitzpatrick developed strong friendships with film director Jonathan Demme and Chicago radio personality and bluesman Buzz Kilman.

During the late 1980s, Fitzpatrick began exhibiting in gallery shows in New York City and Chicago, selling his work and establishing a career as an artist. An accomplished poet, he has authored and illustrated eight books, including “The Hard Angels: Drawings and Poems” in 1988 and the 2015 essay and art book “Dime Stories”. With assistance from friends and local artists Theresa James and Steve Campbell of Landfall Press, Fitzpatrick opened in 1992 his Chicago printmaking studio, Big Cat Press, which exists today as the artist exhibition space Firecat Projects.

Tony Fitzpatrick’s artistic career originally centered on multi-colored drawings on slate, later followed by works presented through printmaking. He has more recently focused on producing multi-media collage drawings, which blend cartoonish drawing, found images, text, and  ephemera, such as baseball cards and matchbooks. His subjects have included: memories of his father, the cities of Chicago and New Orleans, hobo symbols, super-heroes, and Japan.

Fitzpatrick’s works are in private collections and numerous public institutions, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.  He has done cover art for albums, such as the Neville Brothers “Yellow Moon”, nominated for the Diamond Award: Best Album Cover, and Lou Reed’s album “Big Cat”. Working as an actor, Fitzpatrick had roles in “Primal Fear”, “Philadelphia”, and “Married to the Mob”.  

Thomas Banks

Thomas Banks, “The Falling Titan”, 1795, Etching, 26 x 35.7 cm, Published by Richard Morton Paye, Royal Academy of Arts, London

Thomas Banks, “The Falling Titan”, 1786, Marble, 85 x 90 x 58 cm, Royal Academy of Arts, London

Born in 1735 in London, Thomas Banks was educated in Ross-on Wye, a small market town on the River Wye in Herefordshire. He was apprenticed to woodcarver William Barlow in London from 1750 to 1756, during which time he also studied at the studio of Flemish classical sculptor Peter Scheemakers. Banks also enrolled in the St. Martin’s Lane Academy and exhibited several works at the Free Society of Artists during the 1760s. 

Banks was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools in 1769, and had his first exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1770. In 1772, he became the first sculptor to receive the Academy’s traveling scholarship, which enabled him to travel to Rome. Banks lived in Rome between 1772 and 1779, when due to illness and financial disappointments, he returned to England. After two years in England, his desire to accomplish larger-scaled works took him to St. Petersburg in 1981 where he received commissions from Catherine the Great. who purchased his Neo-Classical “Cupid”. 

On his return to England, Thomas Banks received a number of commissions for church memorials, which included the monuments to Sir Eyre Coote and Sir Clifton Wintringham in Westminster Abbey, and monuments to Captain George Westcott and Captain Richard Burgess in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Bank’s best known work is perhaps the colossal sculptural group “Shakespeare Attended by Painting and Poetry”, commissioned in 1788 for the upper facade of the new Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall in Central London. It remained there until 1869, when upon the building’s demolishment, it was moved to New Place, the site of Shakespeare’s final residence.

Thomas Banks was elected in 1784 as an associate of the Royal Academy. In recognition of the support he had been given by the Academy earlier in his career, Banks presented “The Falling Titan” to the Royal Academy as his Diploma work after he was elected as a full member Academician in 1786. In comparison with the Diploma Works deposited by the earlier Academician sculptors Edward Burch, Joseph Nollekens and John Bacon, “The Falling Titan” was an extremely prestigious work to present.

Thomas Banks died in London on February 2, 1805, and became the first sculptor to have a tablet erected in his name in Westminster Abbey. He is buried in Paddington Churchyard. 

Note: Thomas Banks’ Neo-cCassical “Cupid”, purchased by Catherine the Great, was a marble statue on a pedestal. In order to save the work from the advancing German troops in World War II, the curator of the Pavlovsk Palace buried the statue next to its pedestal. Upon his return in 1944, no trace of the statue could be found; excavations for the work during a restoration garden project in the 1980s proved fruitless. More complete information on the statue’s history can be found at:…-a0128792200

Macrocosm of London

Rudolph Ackermann, William Henry Pyne, “Fire in London (Albion Mills, Blackfriars Bridge)”, 1808-1810, Colored Etching, Plate 35, Illustration from “Macrocosm of London”, British Library

The “Macrocosm of London”, published in three volumes between 1808 and 1810, was the result of an ongoing collaboration between publisher Rudolph Ackermann; cartoonist and illustrator Thomas Rowlandson; architectural draughtsman Auguste Charles Pugin; engravers John Bluck, Joseph Constantine Stadler, Thomas Sunderland, John Hill and Richard Bankes Harraden; authors William Henry Pyne and William Combe; and anonymous hand-colorists.

This publication “Macrocosm of London” tapped into the demand for highly-colored prints of real-life subjects that proved something of a publishing sensation during the Regency period in England. Its prints stand as a fascinating historical record of London life in the early years of the 19th century. Auguste Pugin’s fine architectural drawings captured the size and shape of the capital’s principal buildings, both externally and from within. The keenly observed figures drawn by Thomas Rowlandson depicted the vitality and color of both the rich and the poor in late Georgian society.

The Albion flour mill opened at the southern foot of Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1786 and became one of the most visible symbols of Britain’s industrial progress during the late 18th century. Designed in a Neo-Classical style by architect and proprietor James Wyatt, the building contained revolutionary steam engines engineered to the designs of James Watt and his partner Matthew Boulton. 

The sheer power of the engines, which drove twenty pairs of mills stones, promised staggering levels of output in the milling of corn for flour, which was needed for the seemingly endless demand for bread by London’s rapidly growing population. As such, the Albion mill was widely resented by existing millers in London who were still reliant on water or wind power, and who saw the arrival of steam as a death sentence for their trade.

On the 2 March 1791, the Albion mill was totally destroyed by fire, an event that caused much rejoicing in some quarters and some rumors of arson. Though poor maintenance was probably to blame, the burning of the mill was nevertheless the cause of a popular sensation in London which drew crowds of onlookers to the site for weeks afterwards. 

The catastrophe of the mill burning also stood as a useful literary metaphor for the potential harm caused by industrial progress. Most famously it is thought that poet William Blake was inspired by the burnt-shell of the building to portray his vision of ‘dark satanic mills’, contained in the preface poem “And Did Those Feet in Ancient Times” for his 1804 epic work “Milton: A Poem in Two Books”.

Oldřich Kulhánek

Lithographs by Oldřich Kulhánek

Born  in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1940, Oldřich Kulhánek was a graphic designer, painter, illustrator, and stage designer. He graduated in 1964 from the Prague Academy of Applied Arts, in the atelier of graphic artist and muralist Karel Svolinský.  At the time of his graduation, he had produced a series of illustrations to Vladimir Holan’s poetic work “Dreams” and poet Christian Morgenstern’s “The Gallows Songs”.  

Kulhánek had his first solo exhibition in Prague in 1968. He captured the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in that year in a series of allegorical drawings, which included pictures of Stalin and other communist dignitaries. These twelve prints made their way to the West, and were exhibited at the 1970 World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan.

Kulhánek’s prominence among the dissidents in the Communist Era led to his arrest in 1971 by the State Security Police. His allegorical images of Stalin, Mao Zedong, andKhrushchev were judged slanderous and led to charges of ‘slandering a fraternal Soviet State’..  The images,, which included a distorted portrait of Stalin,  were deemed ideologically dangerous and destroyed. After a month in prison,  Kulhánek was banned from exhibiting his work in his home country and interrogated regularly for two years.

“I remember one interrogation by the secret police, when one idiot kept screaming at me. He wanted to know who Hieronymus Bosch was,  where he worked and how I had met him. Even though I knew that he wanted to throw me in jail and was screaming at me, I said to myself ‘I must be dreaming’.  When I told him that [Bosch] died 500 years ago, he told me to drop the intellectual mockery.” – Oldřich Kulhánek

In the 1980s, Oldřich Kulhánek created many lithographs based on the development of the human body.  In 1982 he was awarded the silver medal for his illustrations of Faust at the International Exhibit of Book Art in Leipzig. With the occurrence of the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia and its resulting transition of political power, Kulhánek was able to travel to the United States and attend the Lithographic Workshop in Los Angeles. Later he was invited to give a series of workshops at universities, including the University of Houston. Kulhánek also traveled to Belgium during this period  to study the classical works in its museums.

Oldřich Kulhánek was one of the more visible artists of the Czech Republic. He was the president of the Society of Czech Graphic Artists founded in 1917, the President of the State Jury of Postage Stamp Design,  and the designer of all currency now in circulation in the Czech Republic.  Kulhánek also became one of the principle designers of Czech postage stamps, many bearing his images of important Czech personalities. He passed away suddenly in Prague on January 28th of 2013 at the age of seventy-two.

Julio Ruelas

Julio Ruelas, “Critica”, 1906, Etching, 19 x 15 cm, Museo National de Arte, Mexico City, Mexico

Born on June 21, 1870, in Zacatecas, Julio Ruelas was a Mexican graphic artist, printmaker and painter. He was one of the pioneers of Mexican Modernism and a significant representative of Symbolism in the country. 

In 1885m Ruelas enrolled in the National School of Fine Arts and later at the Escuela de Bellas Artes. He traveled to Germany in 1892, studying at the Academy of Arts in Karlsruhe, where he developed a serious interest in the works of Swiss Symbolist painter Arnold Boeklin. During his stay in Germany, Ruelas was introduced to the Romantic art movement, a style whose emphasis on emotion and the glorification of nature and the past would have a deep influence upon his works. 

After his return to Mexico in 1895, Ruelas published his works in the extremely influential symbolist publication, “Revista Moderna”, founded by poet Jssús E Valenzuela, and became its principal illustrator. In 1904, Ruelas traveled to Paris, perfecting his etching techniques, and then briefly onto Belgium to observe its symbolist movement’s works.

Julio Ruelas spent the last three years of his life in Paris. He died on September 16, 1907 from tuberculosis at the age of thirty-seven. His works are on display In the Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico and in the Francisco Goitia Museum in his home city of Zacatecas, among other collections. 

Julio Ruelas’ 1906 etching “Critica” is from a series of personal portrait etchings that he produced. On the artist’s head sits a fantastic being with bird feet, two small arms and a body of chicken without feathers. The animal has a pair of large breasts that can be seen behind its arms. The creature, wearing an elegant, fashionable hat for upper-class men of the late 20th century, appears to be about to pierce the artist’s head with its beak. The grotesque feeling of this etching reflects Ruelas’ aversion to the unpleasant criticism being given to his symbolist works at this point in time.

Paul Cadmus

Paul Cadmus, “Nude #1”, Nude #2, and “Nude #3”, Etchings, 1984

After traveling to Italy in the early 1930s, American artist Paul Cadmus became fascinated with Renaissance art, particularly the works of painters Luca Signorelli, known for his structure of the nude, and Andrea Mantegna, known for his strongly marked forms of design and the parallel hatching used to portray shadow.  Cadmus adopted certain Renaissance drawing techniques, especially when rendering male nudes.

Cadmus placed nudes like these in tight boxes, focusing on how the tension of the body conveys physical and emotional struggle. The lines in the background  imply a shifting momentum from left and right toward the center. Like Michelangelo, he rendered his nudes sculpturally, employing finely hatched lines to define their musculature and to create the effect of light reflecting on marble.

Martin Lewis

Martin Lewis, “Bredford Street Gang”, 1935, Drypoint and Sandpaper Ground Printed in Black Ink on Wove Paper, Plate Size: 22.5 x 36.2 cm, Detroit Instute of Arts

Martin Lewis is considered one of the greatest American printmakers of the first half of the twentieth century.  He used his superb sense of composition and his technical skill as a master printmaker to create images of New York City and rural Connecticut that are as captivating today as they were in the late 1920’s when he was first recognized as an important artist.

Lewis, a maker of archetypal American art, was an immigrant, born and educated in Australia, who came to this country in 1900. He had become by 1915 a skilled printmaker who shared his knowledge of etching with his friend, Edward Hopper. Lewis was one of the first printmakers to sell out an edition of a print during an exhibition, and many of his etchings and drypoints sold out in a few months. After the artist’s death in 1962, print collectors continued to appreciate his sensuous works of art, which have remained relatively unknown to the general public.

Martin Lewis spent most of his life living in New York City after arriving from Australia.  However, he did travel to Europe and lived briefly in Japan and rural Connecticut. After the artist’s death in 1962, print collectors continued to appreciate his sensuous works of art, which have remained relatively unknown to the general public.

Joseph Mugnaini

Joseph Mugnaini, “Mr. Moundshroud”, Etcihing/ Aquatint, 1971, 16 x 12.25 Inches

This print was in Ray Bradbury’s personal collection. It is from a series of etchings done by Joseph Mugnaini for a collection of Ray Bradbury’s stories.

Joseph Anthony Mugnaini was born in Viareggio in the Tuscany region of Italy in 1912. He Immigrated with his family to the United States when he was three months old. He became an American citizen in 1941 and taught at the Pasadena School of Fine Arts, among others.

A talented lithographer, he is best known for his collaborations beginning in 1952 with writer Ray Badbury, who regarded him as both a friend and the best interpreter of his stories. As a result, he did the covers and interior art for several first editions of Bradbury’s works, as well as related projects like illustrations for a 1962 cartoon adaptation of Bradbury’s story “Icarus Montgolfier Wright”, originally printed in 1956.

For many, Mugnaini’s trademark style – an elongated human figure against a minimal or symbolic background – is indelibly linked with Bradbury’s fiction, explaining why his covers and interior art are still being used for recent editions of his works. Still, it should also be remembered that Mugnaini did provide evocative covers for a few books by other genre writers, including Robert Crane’s “Hero Walk”, Theodore Sturgeon’s “ A Touch of Strange”, and Louis Charbonneau’s “No Place on Earth”.

Francisco Goya

Francisco Goya, “Modo de Volar (Way to Fly)”, Plate 13 from the “Disparate” Series, The Third Grouping of Plates of the “Disasters of War”, 1816-1823

“The Disasters of War” was not published during Goya’s lifetime, possibly because he feared political repercussions from Fernando VII’s repressive regime. Some art historians suggest that he did not publish because he was sceptical about the use of images for political motives, and instead saw them as a personal meditation and release. Most, however, believe the artist preferred to wait until they could be made public without censorship. A further four editions were published, the last in 1937, so that in total over 1,000 impressions of each print have been printed, though not all of the same quality.

Goya worked on the “Disasters of War” during a period when he was producing images more for his own satisfaction than for any contemporary audience. His work came to rely less on historical incidents than his own imagination. Many of the later plates contain fantastical motifs which can be seen as a return to the imagery of the “Caprichos”, his prints on the universal follies of Spanish society. In this, he is relying on visual clues derived from his inner life, rather than anything that could be recognised from real events or settings. “Modo de Volar” is an example of that return to the “Caprichos” imagery.

Michael Goro

Michael Goro, “La Belle Fenetre”, Etching / Engraving, Date Unknown

“Looking for subject matter I find simple things that we see every day, things that become symbolic once they are taken out of context. I experiment with the juxtaposition of places, faces, and architectural designs that reflect my diverse personal experiences. My story is a vivid illustration of the end of the last century – a time of deconstruction, discontinuity, and dislocation. I find that black-and-white prints convey contradictory images better than any other medium by reducing them to the most basic color contrast. My work provides the full spectrum of techniques ranging from renaissance engraving to digital photogravure.” – Michael Goro

Martin Lewis

Martin Lewis, “Tree”, Drypoint, Unknown Date, 32 x 25 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum

In 1900, Martin Lewis left Australia for the United States. His first job was in San Francisco, painting stage decorations for William McKinley’s presidential campaign of 1900. By 1909, Lewis was living in New York, where he found work in commercial illustration. His earliest known etching is dated 1915. However, the level of skill in this piece suggests he had been working in the medium for some time previously.

It was during this period that he helped Edward Hopper learn the basics of etching. In 1920, Lewis traveled to Japan, where for two years he drew and painted and studied Japanese art. The influence of Japanese prints is very evident in Lewis’s prints after that period. In 1925, he returned to etching and produced most of his well-known works between 1925 and 1935. Lewis’s first solo exhibition in 1929 was successful enough for him to give up commercial work and concentrate entirely on printmaking.

Frank Stella

Frank Stella, “Bene Come il Sale (As Good as the Salt)”, Relief Printed Etching, 1989, 58 x 72 Inches

Brightly colored and captivating, Frank Stella Bene come il sale (As Good as the Salt)speaks to Stella’s artistic inclination towards nonrepresentational painting. Figures exist within the same space but make no sense or have any relation, with the only aspect tying the composition together being the beautifully vibrant colors and textures.

Created in 1989, this color etching is hand-signed and dated by Frank Stella (Massachusetts, 1936 – ) in pencil in the lower right of the image and is numbered from the edition of 50. Published by Tyler Graphics Ltd., Mount Kisco, New York, and bearing its blindstamp in the paper in the lower right corner of the sheet, this work was printed at the Tyler Graphics workshop.

Charles Émile Jacque

Charles Émile Jacque, Untitled, (Man Reading Beside a Skull), Etching, 1866, Attributed on the Plate to José de Ribera

Etching on fine wove (Japan) paper, trimmed with narrow margins and lined on a conservator’s support sheet; Size: (sheet) 13.4 x 12.3 cm; (plate) 12.1 x 11.3 cm; (image borderline) 11.5 x 10.5 cm: Inscribed within the image borderline at the lower left with the artist’s initials, “C. J.” (shown in reverse on the book page) and “ARibera 1621”; numbered outside the image borderline at lower left: “1.”