Charles de Sousy Ricketts

The Artwork of Charles de Sousy Ricketts

Born in Geneva in October of 1866, Charles de Sousy Ricketts was a versatile British illustrator, author and printer known for his work as a book designer, typographer, and designer of theatrical sets and costume. He was the only son of Charles Robert Ricketts, a Royal Navy veteran and amateur painter, and Héléne Cornélie de Sousy, daughter of the Marquis de Sousy. Ricketts spent his formative years mainly in France and received his education through his governesses. 

After the death of his mother in 1880, Charles Ricketts relocated with his father to London where, considered too frail for school, he became largely self-educated through reading and visiting museums. In 1882, Ricketts entered the City and Guilds of London Art School where he apprenticed to wood-engraver Charles Roberts. Later that year, his father died and he became dependent on the modest support of his paternal grandfather. On his sixteenth birthday, he met his lifelong partner Charles Haslewood Shannon, a fellow student three years his senior who was studying painting and lithography. The two men lived together in both a personal and professional partnership until Ricketts’s death.

After finishing their studies, Ricketts became a commercial and magazine illustrator; Shannon took a teaching post at London’s newly founded Croyton School of Art. In 1888, Ricketts took possession of painter James Whistler’s former house, The Vale, in Chelsea which soon became a gathering place of contemporary artists. Starting in 1889 until its final issue in 1897, Ricketts and Shannon produced “The Dial”, a journal of poetry, prose, and English Pre-Raphaelite and French Symbolist illustrations. This portfolio became a major publication of the Aesthetic Movement. 

Charles Ricketts, in collaboration with Shannon, illustrated their close friend Oscar Wilde’s 1891 ”A House of Pomegranates” and the 1894 “The Sphinx”. Ricketts and Shannon worked together on the type and illustrations for editions of “Daphnis and Chloe” in 1893 and “Hero and Leander” in 1894. After initially running a small press, they founded London’s Vale Press in 1896 which published more than seventy-five books including a thirty-nine volume edition of Shakespeare’s work. Ricketts designed illustrations as wells fonts, initials, and borders specific to Vale Press. He also executed woodcut illustrations of Art Nouveau design and androgynous figures for their publications. After a 1904 fire at their printer Ballantyne Press destroyed their engraving woodcuts, Ricketts and Shannon made the decision to abandon publishing; Ricketts destroyed all the typefaces he had designed for Vale Press.

Beginning in the early 1900s, Ricketts placed his focus on painting and sculpture. He had a deep knowledge of earlier painters and was particularly influenced by the works of the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau and the French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix. Among Ricketts’s many paintings are the 1904 “Betrayal of Christ”, the 1911 “The Death of Don Juan”, “Bacchus in India” painted in 1913, “Jepthah’s Daughter” painted in 1924, and the 1915 “Montezuma”, now at the Manchester Art Gallery. Over the course of his career, Ricketts produced about twenty sculptures among which are “Silence”, a memorial to his friend Oscar Wilde, and two bronze works entitled “Paolo and Francesca” and “Orpheus and Eurydice”.

From 1906 to his death, Charles Ricketts was a celebrated theatrical set and costume designer. His first commission was for a private production of s double billing of Oscar Wilde’s plays, “Salome” and “A Florentine Tragedy”, at King’s Hall in Covent Garden. In 1907, he designed costumes and stage sets for Aeschylus’s “The Persians” also performed at King’s Hall. During the early 1900s, Ricketts designed both costume and sets for many commercial theater productions including Hugo Hofmannsthal’s “Electra” in 1908, “King Lear” at the Haymarket in 1909, and two of Bernard Shaw’s plays, “The Dark Lady of the Sonnets” in 1910 and “Annajanska, the Bolshevik Empress” in 1918.

After World War One, Ricketts continued his theatrical design with Shaw’s “Saint Joan” at the New Theater in 1924, “Henry VIII” at the Empire Theater in 1925 and “Macbeth” at the Princess Theater in 1926. He also designed costumes and sets  for the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company’s 1926 production of “The Mikado” at the Savoy Theater. Most of Ricketts’s designs for “The Mikado” were retained by other designers of the company for more than fifty years. Ricketts final theater designs were for the 1931 production of Ferdinand Bruckner’s “Elizabeth of England” preformed at London’s Cambridge Theater and a production of Donald Tovey’s opera “The Bride of Dionysus” staged posthumously in Edinburgh after Ricketts’s death.

As a writer, Charles Ricketts published two monographs on art as well as essays and articles  on a wide range of subjects for publications. Using the pen-name of Jean Paul Raymond, he wrote and designed two collections of short stories published in 1928 and 1933. Under the same pen-name, Ricketts wrote the 1932 “Recollections of Oscar Wilde”, an extremely personal memoir that was published after Ricketts’s death. Ricketts’s last years were were greatly effected by Charles Shannon’s serious fall and resulting permanent brain damage. The strain of the situation with the addition of overwork to finance the household contributed to the decline of Ricketts’s health and ultimately his death.

Charles de Sousy Ricketts died suddenly at age sixty-five from coronary heart disease on the 7th of October in 1931 at the Regent’s Park house. He was cremated and his ashes partly scattered in London’s Richmond Park, and the remainder buried at Arolo, Lake Maggiore in Italy. Charles Shannon outlived him by six years and died in March of 1937.

Note: The New York Public Library’s assistant curator Julie Carlsen, along with Henry W. and Albert A. Berg of the English and American Literature Collection, have written an interesting article on Ricketts and Shannon’s designs for the bindings of Oscar Wilde’s work published by Vale Press. The article can be found at:

Top Insert Image: George Charles Beresford, “Charles de Sousy Ricketts”, October 1903, Sepia-Toned Platinotype Print, 15.5 x 10.7 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London

Second Insert Image: Charles de Sousy Ricketts, Page from Ricketts’s “The Prado and Its Masterpieces”, 1923, Published by E.P. Dutton and Company, New York, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Charles de Sousy Ricketts, Illustration and Text from Michael Field’s “The Race of Leaves”, 1901, Woodcut, The Ballantyne Press, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: George Charles Beresford, “Charles Haslewood Shannon and Charles de Sousy Ricketts”, October 1903, Modern Print from Original Negative, 11 x 15.7 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London

Frank Stella

Frank Stella, “The Circuit Series”, 1982-1984, Woodcut and Relief Prints on Hand-Dyed Paper

Born in Malden, Massachusetts in May of 1936, Frank Philip Stella is an American painter, printmaker and sculptor known for his work in the fields of post-painterly abstraction and minimalism. He learned about the abstract modernist painters, such as Hans Hofmann and Josef Albers, during his studies at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Stella entered Princeton University with a major in history; there he met and became friends with abstract painter Darby Bannard and modernist art critic and  historian Michael Fried. 

Stella’s frequent visits to the many art galleries in New York City stimulated his artistic development. His work bears the influence of his exposure to the abstract expressionist work of such artists as action-painter Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline,  known for his signature style of black on white abstraction. After graduation, Stella moved to New York City where he established a studio and permanent residence. In 2015 he moved his studio space to Rock Tavern, a small New York town on the edge of the Stewart State Forest.  

After Frank Stella moved to New York, he focused exclusively on his painting and found his success after two accidental, but innovative, paintings. Known as the Black Paintings, they consisted of penciled lines drawn on raw canvas where the open spaces were partially filled with black house paint. Since that time, Stella has consistently developed increasingly complex variations of selected themes over the years. He has constantly challenged himself by working in sculpture, lithography, silk screen printing, etching  and offset lithography. 

After having established himself as a painter, Stella began making prints in 1967. He initially worked predominately with lithography, but also did intaglio prints and screen prints. Stella’s prints, like his paintings, were created in series and continued the aesthetic he had brought to his paintings. For his print production, Stella began working in 1967 with master printmaker and publisher Kenneth Tyler, owner of the print atelier Gemini Graphic Editions Limited. Known for the quality of its work, this print atelier drew many famous artists to its workshops including Jasper Johns, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Anthony Caro, and Robert Rauschenberg.

The sixteen prints of Frank Stella’s 1982 -1984 “Circuits Series” represented a dramatic shift in his attitude toward printmaking. While working on a series of sculptural relief paintings, Stella had the idea that the remnants from his sculptural work could be rolled with ink and used for relief printing. He noticed that the outlines of the different shapes cut from sheet metal had been incised into the plywood backing boards. Stella was struck by the layered network of lines and curved shapes traced onto the wood.

From this point in time, Stella’s print practice would be the influence for his work in other mediums, with each project pushing the boundaries of his printmaking. Working with Kenneth Tyler, he experimented with the “Circuit Series” in tandem with his developing relief paintings. By layering woodblocks and collaging them with etched metal plates, then printing them on specially crafted, hand-dyed sheets of oversize paper, Stella produced prints of innovational scale, complexity and bold color. This series was the first time Stella used color-stained paper and magnesium plates for printing. 

“The “Circuits Series” was inspired by the race tracks that Stella visited in the different parts of the world: the Talladega in Alabama, the Pergusa and Imola racetracks in Italy, and the Estoril in Portugal. Stella incorporated twisting and circular shapes within the series to convey the high-speed courses. In all the images of the series, the visual image of the racetrack remains consistent; however, the curvilinear shapes are sometimes highly irregular and become increasingly enhanced by the use of multiple colored inks. 

The National Gallery of Australia holds the most comprehensive collection of Frank Stella’s innovations in print, with over eleven-hundred prints, experimental proofs, and matrices, including more than one-hundred twenty related to the “Circuits Series”. Images from the series are in private and other public collections including Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery in New York, the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, and both the Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Top Insert Image: Bob Berg, “Frank Stella, New York Studio”, May 1995, Color Print, Getty Images

Second Insert Image: Frank Stella, “Imola Three I”, 1982, “Circuits” Series, Relief and Woodcut with Aquatint on Handmade, Hand-Colored Paper, 167.6 x 132.1 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Frank Stella, “Estoril Five II”, 1982, “Circuits” Series, Relief and Woodcut with Aquatint on Handmade, Hand-Colored Paper, 167.6 x 132.1 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Christopher Gregory (New York Times), “Frank Stella, New York City”, 2019, The Renate, Hans & Maria Hoffmann Trust

François Louis Schmied

The illustrations of François-Louis Schmied

Born in Geneva in November of 1873, François-Louis Schmied was a French painter, wood engraver, illustrator and bookbinder of Swiss origin. He is considered a major artist of the Art Deco era, particularly for his work in the publishing field. Schmied established himself in Paris whee he later was naturalized. He is the father of engraver Théo Schmied, who directed his father’s workshop beginning in 1924. 

François-Louis Schmied began his formal training at the Guillaume Le Bé School, named after the notable engraver and designer who specialized in Hebrew typefaces. Schmied next studied under Swiss painter and draftsman Barthélemy Menn who introduced the principles of plein air painting into Swiss art. Through his studies with Menn, Schmied became acquainted with such artists as Eugène Delacroix, Henri Rousseau, and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. The enlivening use of color by these artists made a lasting impression on the young Schmied who continued his studies under painter and wood engraver Alfred Martin.

In 1911, Schmied’s work was brought to the attention of one of the period’s most elite book clubs, Les Sociétés du Livre Contemporain. These French societies were comprised of the elite members of the country whose function was to sponsor the production of lavish, limited editions by outstanding authors and artists. Impressed with Schmied’s previous work, the club commissioned Schmied to collaborate as engraver and typographer with artist Paul Jouve on an illustrated version of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”. A painter, sculptor and illustrator, Jouve was most notable for his works of Africa’s animals. 

“The Jungle Book”, like its medieval predecessors, took years of preparatory work. The project came to a halt with the outbreak of World War One; Schmied enlisted in the French Foreign Legion for his service. After being wounded at the Battle of Somme and suffering the loss of an eye, he returned to Paris to complete work on “The Jungle Book”. The volume was finally published in 1919 and won accolades from the French book world. Schmied’s reputation was assured and commissions began to arrive. Always a perfectionist, he never compromised his high technical standards in his search for each book’s perfect match of illustrations and text. 

One of Schmied’s most tasking projects was the 1922 “Salonique, la Macédoine, L’Athos”. As printer and engraver, he was responsible for converting the pointillist-inspired paintings of Jean Goulden into forty-five woodcut engravings for printing. Schmied meticulously executed the illustrations with large areas composed entirely of dots and slashes. This work was followed in the same year with a commission from George Barbier, famous for his fashion illustrations. This collaboration produced two of Schmied’s best works “Les Chansons de Bilitis” and “Personnages de Comédie”, both published in 1922. The books embodied Barbier’s elegant Art Deco style with an exotic palette of sienna, teal blue, jet black and luminous gold, all printed accurately in color by Schmied.

François-Louis Schmied emerged as the leading Art Deco book designer with his 1924 “Daphné”. In order to draw the reader into the Byzantine world of the book’s hero, Emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus, he used a bold typeface highlighted with strong initial letters. Schmied’s borders, vignettes, and tailpieces used an austere and geometrically abstract form to embellish the text. Rich somber colors and rigorous design in his full-page illustrations harmonized with all the other elements. This volume, together with the 1925 “Le Cantique des Cantiques”, are considered by collectors as the pinnacle of his career. 

Schmied continued to design, print and publish several major volumes until the early 1930s. The ensuing Depression era began a chain of events that led to Schmied’s financial ruin, and ultimately to his demise. Luxury items, like Schmied’s books, were among the first commodities that lost their value in the depressed market. Although he tried to buy his books back to maintain their monetary worth, Schmied was caught in an economic downward spiral. By the mid-1930s, he had lost his workshop and his prize possession, his yacht La Beau Brune.

François-Louis Schmied’s friends in the government gave him support in the form of a minor commission at a desert outpost in Morocco, over two-thousand kilometers from his Paris home. Part of his duties was to help alleviate the misery of the people under his authority. In January of 1941, as a result of his ministrations to his public during an epidemic, François-Louis Schmied died of the plague.

Top Insert Image: François Louis Schmied, “Self Portrait”, 1904, Pencil and Charcoal on Paper

Second Inset Image: François Louis Schmied, “Bathers, Valleè du Draa, Morocco”, 1938, Tempera on Board, 40 x 19.5 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: François Louis Schmied, “Le Vanneur”, 1936, Tempera on Paper on Masonite, 111 x 140.5 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: François Louis Schmied, Illustration for Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”, Woodcut Engraving with Gold Highlights, 1919, Private Collection

Takato Yamamoto

Takato Yamamoto, “Saint Sebastian (聖セバスチャン)”, 2005, Woodblock Print

Takao Yamamoto is a japanese artist born in 1960 and who experimented with the Ukiyo-e Pop style and further refined and developed that style in order to create what he calls the  Heisei estheticism style.

Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs and landscapes, tales from history, the theatre and pleasure quarters. It is the main artistic genre of woodblock printing in Japan.

Yamamoto usually portrays famous occidental myths, such as Salome or Saint Sebastian. His graphic depictions of sex and death remind the work of the most controversial artist of the Art Nouveau era and of Symbolist painters such as Gustave Moreau or Aubrey Beardsley.

Ando Hiroshige

Ando Hiroshige, “Suido Bridge and Suruga Hill”, Number 63 from the “One Hundred Views of Famous Places in Edo” Series, 1857, Color Woodcut, Chazen Museum of Art

Ando Hiroshige was a Japanes ukiyo-e artist, considered the last great master of that tradition. He is best known for his landscapes, such as the series “The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido” and “The Sixty-Nine Stations of the Kiso Kaido”, and for his depictions of birds and flowers. The subjects of his work was atypical of the genre, whose typical focus was on beautiful women, popular actors, and scenes of the urban pleasure districts of Japan’s Edo period.

In 1856, Hiroshige retired from the world,  becoming a Buddhist monk; this was the year he began his “One Hundred Views of Famous Places in Edo” series.  He died aged 62 during the great Edo cholera epidemic of 1858 and was buried in a Zen Buddhist temple in Asakusa.

Okiie Hashimoto

Okiie Hashimoto, “Sand Garden Scene”, 1959, Wood Block Print, Edition of 60

Japanese printmaker Okiie Hashimoto graduated from Tokyo School of Fine Art in 1924 with training in Western-style oil painting. He also studied with the printmaker Haratsuka Un’ichi; but it wasn’t untill the 1930s that Hashimoto began to make woodblocks in any great number. After Hashimoto retired from his teaching career in 1955, he concentrated on his printmaking.

Hashimoto’s prints from the period between 1957 and 1966 represent a particular phase of his work which was imbued with complex perspectives and drawn with aspects of Western abstraction. He used modernism with its abstract tendencies to show a subtle view of reality.

Hiroyuki Tajima

Hiroyuki Tajima, “Unforgettable Altar B”, Color Woodblock, 1984 Edition of 50

Hiroyuki Tajima was was born in Tokyo in 1911 and graduated from Nihon University in 1932. In 1943, he graduated from the Western-style painting division of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. Tajima  created his first print in 1946, and joined the Bijutsu Bunka Kyokai’  a group dedicated to exploring and reviving the abstract and surrealist painting ideals that had been suppressed during WWII. He  also studied with Nagase Yoshi, an artist of the Sosaku Hanga school. In 1963, Tajima became a member of the Nihon Hanga Kyokai, the Japanese Print Association.

In order to create his unique woodblocks Tajima developed his own ink using powdered color mixed with the plastic medium phenol formaldehyde resin (Bakelite). He uses this ink for a pattern block and then prints again with a water-based ink or dye, which color the areas not printed by his special water-resistant ink.

“Every Tajima work seems to glow from behind, as though it incorporated a fluorescent light shielded by a mysteriously textured fabric. … Tajima’s technique consists of brushing intensely colored dyes over a dark-colored medium, imparting luminosity to the white areas while enriching the basic colors of the print. The textured areas fade off into dark planes, seeming to float on a cool liquid. Thus the fascinating, bubbly shapes are set off by simple, relaxing ground forms. In this end, this rare combination of intricacy and confident simplicity makes Tajima’s work both exciting and reassuring.” -artist, author, and art curator Francis Blakemore

Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Takagi Toranosuke Capturing a Kappa Underwater in the Tamura River”, No Date, Edo Period

Takagi Toranosuke appears in at least one other print by Kuniyoshi and one by Kuniyoshi’s pupil Yoshitoshi: both in the Lyon Collection of the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. Both have short texts describing him as a samurai originally from Hyūga Province who wandered through Japan and fought various monsters. It seems likely that he is a fictional character, possibly inspired by the historical figures Takagi Oriemon Shigetoshi, who founded the Hontai Hōshin Ryū school of martial arts in the seventeenth century, and his successor as head of the school, Takagi Umanosuke Shigesada.

Takagi Toranosuke, a native of Hyūga and an expert in the martial arts, is seen struggling with a kappa or kawatarō (also known as a suiko (waterbaby)). A kappa is a composite amphibious creature said to be a native of Kyushu. It has the shell of a tortoise, scaly legs, webbed feet and most mystifying of all, an ape-like head with a hollow depression in its crown that contains a strange fluid that provides the kappa with its strength. It tends to be harmless, but if one remembers to bow to the kappa it is forced to return the bow, thus losing its potent fluid and becoming powerless. Even as late as the 19th century, it was still widely believed that kappa actually existed.

Colin See-Paynton

Colin See-Paynton, “The Hare and Moonshadows”, Woodcut, Edition of 75, 12.7 x 17.8 cm, Private Collection

In 1972, See-Paynton moved to a remote farmhouse in Wales, on to which he built his studio. Entirely self-taught as an engraver, he began to make prints in 1980 and has since produced over 250 editions.

Colin has brought a new vitality to one of the earliest forms of printmaking- woodcuts. Although his work is based on the meticulous observation of the natural world, his talent is to invent compositions which distil the ecological and behavioural relationships of the species and their habitats.

He uses his knowledge and imagination to construct engravings of great complexity and refinement and has evolved something new by the patterning and layering of his images. Later compositions, particularly those from an underwater viewpoint, use an increasingly abstract and fluid line to capture the fast and fleeting movements of birds and fish.

Albrecht Durer

Albrecht Durer, The Men’s Bathhouse”, Woodcut, 1496, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Men’s Bath is an unusual print for its time since this is the only graphic image that was made for sale of naked men in such a scene.  Even more odd is the fact that these men are depicted naked in public, in a city that religiously regulated clothing down to the number of pearls allowed to be on any garment and where all the inhabitants needed to be fully covered.

It is believed that the figure with only a risqué codpiece covering his genitals and playing the flute is Dürer himself because he is bearded.  The two men in the foreground are believed to be the very sexually permissive  Paümgartner brothers, Stephen and Lucas, who Dürer depicted in the Paümgartner Altar.

Tom Killion

Five Woodcut Engravings by Tom Killion

Californian-born Tom Killion takes inspiration from 19th century Japanese prints to recreate epic engravings of American landscapes. He describes his technique, tongue-in-cheek, as “faux ukiyo-ë” to emphasize his aesthetic debt to the landscape prints of early 19th century Japan, but also to acknowledge his embrace of early 20th century European / American wood-engraving and book illustration techniques and styles as well. Among his influences are both the Japanese ukiyo-ë landscape masters Hokusai and Hiroshige, but also European and American wood-engravers such as Eric Gill and Rockwell Kent.

Killion carves his images into cherry, all-shina plywood, Amsterdam linoleum and other block materials using Japanese handtools. He prints his often elaborate, multi-colored images on handmade Japanese kozo papers using oil-based inks and a German hand-cranked proofing press.

Alison Saar

Alison Saar, “Snakeman”, 1994, Woodcut and Lithograph Printed in Color on Oriental Paper, Image and sheet: 27 7/8 x 37 1/8 in.

Alison Saar is an American sculptor, painter and installation artist. She was born in Los Angeles, California, and grew up in Laurel Canyon, California. Her parents were Betye Saar, a well-known African-American artist, and Richard Saar, an art conservationist. . She received a BA from Scripps College (Claremont, CA) in 1978, having studied African and Caribbean art with Dr. Samella Lewis. Saar’s thesis was on African-American folk art. She received an MFA from Otis Art Institute, now known as Otis College of Art and Design  in Los Angeles, California in 1981.

Her sculptures and installations explore themes of African cultural diaspora and spirituality, and her studies of Latin American, Caribbean and African art and religion have informed her work. Saar’s fascination with vernacular folk art and ability to build an oasis of beauty from cast-off objects are evident in her sculptures and paintings.

Andrea Rich

Andrea Rich, “Thistle”, 2001, Woodcut on Hosho Paper, 50.8 x 60.1 cm, Edition: 4/30; Collection of Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin

Since 1980, internationally recognized woodcut printmaker and artist Andrea Rich has traveled the world observing wildlife in their natural habitat. Madagascar, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Africa and Europe are some of the places outside North America that she has visited in search of interesting subjects. She then designs her drawing based upon personal observations in the field, carves and hand-pulls prints in her studio in Santa Cruz California.

A typical print requires ten to twenty blocks. Working in the studio full time, a print could take two or three weeks to design and carve the blocks, and another two weeks to press as many as 20 colors on each print. Editions of her work generally number 30 or less.

Kawase Hasui


Kawase Hasui “Night Rain at Omiya”, 1930

Born in May of 1883, Hasui Kawase was one of modern Japan’s most important and prolific printmakers. He was a prominent founder of the shin-hanga, or new prints, movement whose artists executed traditional subjects in a style influenced by Western art.

At the age of twenty six, Hasui ceased working at his family’s rope and thread wholesaling business and studied Western style painting under Yōga-style artist Okada Saburōsuke for two years. Hasui then approached Nihonga artist Kiyokata Kaburagi, the leading master of the bijin-ga genre, to teach him; it was Kiyokata who gave him the name ‘Hasui’, which translates as ‘water gushing from a spring’.

At the studio of Kiyokata, Hasui studied traditional Japanese painting and ukiyo-e, a genre of art which flourished from the seventeenth though the nineteenth centuries.. He worked almost exclusively on landscape and townscape prints based on sketches and watercolors he made during travels around Japan. Hasui’s work depicted not only those famous places typical of early ukiyo-e masters, but also featured locales which were obscure in urbanizing Japan. Unlike other artists, he did include the captions and titles that were standard in traditional ukiyo-e prints. Among Hasui’s most original and best known works were his snow scenes rendered with naturalistic light, shade and texture. 

During a career which spanned over forty years, Hasui designed approximately six hundred-twenty prints and worked closely with publisher Shōzaburō Watanabe, an advocate of the shin-hanga movement. Through the efforts of American art patron Robert Miller, his work became widely known in the West. In late 1953, the government Committee for the Preservation of Intangible Cultural Treasures commissioned Hasui to make a collection of traditionally-made prints. The production of these works were carefully documented and, in 1956, he was named a Japanese Living National Treasure. 

Hasui Kawase died on November 27, 1957 at the age of seventy-four. He left a large collection of his woodblock prints and watercolors, many of which are linked to the woodblock prints, oil paintings, traditional hanging scrolls, and several folding screens. In 1979, Author Narazaki Munishige published Hasui’s biography and compiled the first comprehensive, annotated listing of all his known works

Paul Landacre

Wood Engraving Landscapes by Paul Landacre

Although he took some life-drawing classes at the Otis Art Institute between 1923 and 1925, Paul Landacre largely taught himself the art of printmaking. He experimented with the technically demanding art of carving linoleum blocks and, eventually, woodblocks for both wood engravings and woodcuts. Landacre’s fascination with printmaking and his ambition to make a place for himself in the world of fine art coalesced in the late 1920s when he met Jake Zeitlin.

Zeitlin’s antiquarian bookshop in Los Angeles, a cultural hub that survived into the 1980s. included a small gallery space for the showing of artworks, primarily prints and drawings. It is there in 1930 that Landacre was given his first significant solo exhibition. Zeitlin’s ever-widening circle of artists came to include Edward Weston, a photographer who shared the modernist vision that so captivated Landacre. Well-connected to the New York art scene, Zeitlin associated himself with the circle of artists represented by Carl Zigrosser, director of the Weyhe Gallery in Manhattan and, later, curator of prints at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

By 1936 Zigrosser considered Landacre to be “one of the few graphic artists worth watching” in America, and included him among his portraits of 24 contemporary American printmakers in his seminal work, “The Artist in America” (Knopf 1942). Elected a member of the National Academy in 1946, Landacre was honored in 1947 with a solo exhibition of his wood engravings at the Smithsonian Museum, its graphic arts division under the curatorial leadership of Jacob Kainen.

Jürgen Wittdorf

Woodcut Prints and Linocuts by Jürgen Wittdorf

Jürgen Wittdorf is a German painter and graphic artist, mainly known through his book illustrations and large sized woodcuts and linocuts. In 1960-1961, he created a series called “For the Youth”, which portrayed young hooligans and youths either dressed in jeans or posed in full frontal nudity. This “Westernization” earned Wittdorf criticisms from the German state.

Note: An interesting and extensive article to read on the attitudes regarding homosexuality in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) during the last half of the twentieth-century is Eric A. Gordon’s homage to his friend Michael Kuschnia which was published in the January 2021 online People’s World. The article, which covers their fifty-year friendship and correspondences can be found at: