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FIGURA, Hans (1898–1978)
Woolworth Building, New York City
aquatint and etching / 9 1/4 inches by 5 3/8 inches
Serbian-born and Austrian-educated Hans Figura, according to one source, “created over 850 etchings, mostly in color, of the historical tourist landscapes and cityscapes of Europe, using primarily aquatint, similar to his colleagues Luigi Kasimir and Josef Eidenberger”; they might well have included Bohemian etcher Tavík František Šimon. Figura’s American subject, the Woolworth Building, was briefly the tallest in the world. Here the view is across City Hall Park, framed by one of the arches of the Manhattan Municipal Building.
Mary Grace Tabor (Mrs Kurt Bernhard) lived in New York City for several years, when this was probably acquired.
EYRE, William (1879–1979)
“The Countryside in Winter”
oil on board / 13.8 inches by 17.8 inches
According to an English dealer who has offered several works by Eyre:
William Eyre (1891-1979) was a landscape painter of extraordinary talent who exhibited at the Croydon Art Society for the best part of twenty years, with the likes of Hesketh Hubbard, PRBA, ROI, FSA, Jack Merriott, RI, William Watkins, RI, William Fryer and Cicely Mary Barker.
In 1971, Eyre moved to North Wales where he remained for the rest of his life, however he still regularly contributed to the Croydon Art Society’s exhibitions, although he no longer put his works up for sale. His works record the myriad of places that he visited, not only in England but on the Continent, and cover all seasons, but it was the sublime landscapes of Northern Wales that proved to be his final and most haunting inspiration; he died there in 1979.
Eyre’s works show considerable skill in the handling of both oil and watercolour, two very different mediums, and his landscapes have even been likened to Whistler. His confidence, sense of drama and simplicity of technique has also drawn comparisons with Cotman and there is a clear link to be made with the work of Edward Seago, seen in the soft play of light across Eyre’s coastal landscapes.
This dark brooding winter landscape renders the trees as cyclonic shapes rooted in the fields, losing their crests in low-lying clouds. “Countryside” came to the collection anonymously via a Chicago art dealer.
WILDER, Frederick Louis (1893–1993)
Shipbuilding [two prints]
etching on paper / 5.7 inches by 7.8 inches [top] / 6.6 inches by 9.7 inches [bottom]
Known throughout his career as F. L. Wilder, he lived into his hundredth year and is better known as an authority on print collecting at Sotheby’s, where he worked from 1911 until 1976. In 1969 he published How to Identify Old Prints, and in 1974 a coffee-table book called English Sporting Prints. Then at age 83, he became an art dealer under his own name. These two studies of boat-building date from about 1941.
These increase the collection’s number of boat-buiilding images to four.
WATSON, Eva Ault (1889–1948)
“Gulls and Spray”
linoleum cut on paper / 8 15/16 inches by 8 9/16 inches (image)
Eva Auld Watson met her husband Ernest William Watson [1884–1969] when attending one of his art classes at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. After marrying in 1911 they spent summers in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, where they co-founded the Berkshire Summer School of Art. Together they “studied, developed, and applied many of the same block printing techniques; however, Eva’s designs were often more stylized, focusing on rich color and vibrant, harmonious landscapes” rather than more figurative work by Ernest. The distinctive characteristic of their prints is the subtle gradations of color from a single block, which almost guarantees variation within an edition. Ernest Watson also co-founded Watson-Guptill, publishers of art books.
“Gulls and Spray” was issued in an edition of one hundred and fifty by the Albany Print Club for its members. It came to us from one of their descendants.
MITCHELL, Julian Gordon (born 1968)
oil on canvas panel / 20 inches by 16 inches
Through no direct intent, British artist Julian Gordon Mitchell has become the most represented artist in the collection. Five of his Surrealist paintings have come from three different donors—entirely coincidental.
Some of Mitchell’s works are more Impressionist in technique; others focus on the objects in the composition and their often complex contradiction. In this untitled work, the viewer is left to sort out what the elements are, how they relate, and, ultimately, what they are intended to do—if anything. Non sequitur.
[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]
O’CONNOR, Thom (American / born 1937)
“Tranquility (1)” from Wizards & Cabalists & Mystics & Magicians, a portfolio of ten etchings on Arches paper, with frontispiece, three text pages, colophon / edition of 200
etching on paper / 4 7/16 inches x 4 13/16 inches (image)
Printmaker Thom O’Connor was born in Detroit but has invested much of his productive life in Albany, NY. We are fortunate to have two individual prints in the collection, as well as this folio of ten. All are representative of his work in the 1960s, which tend to have been mystical portraits (in this case, quite literally) etched at an intimate scale. They make an interesting comparison with the similar etchings of artist Robert Marx.
[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]
SCHMIDT, Karl (American / 1890-1962)
charcoal, ink and wash drawing with varnish / 6 3/4 inches by 5 5/8 inches (image)
Karl Schmidt was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on 11 January 1890 and began drawing and painting when quite young. After graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, he traveled to England where he studied art and painted land- and seascapes of Cornwall and the coast of Brittany. While in England he probably came under the influence of the arts and crafts painter Frank Brangwyn and, in turn, Japanese art through Brangwyn’s association with Yoshijiro Urushibara.
Schmidt returned to the US and was a resident of Boston and Worcester until 1915 when he moved to Santa Barbara, California where he was associated with the group of painters who worked in California artist Alexander Harmer’s mission-style studio. In California, Schmidt expanded a decorative painting style in which he abstracted landscape forms, rendering them as flat planes of color thoughtfully arranged within his compositions. His approach suggests the influence of the art of Arthur Wesley Dow, whose method was disseminated by the many Dow students who settled in the Los Angeles area in the early twentieth century. In 1918 he joined the Navy and served in the Bureau of Aeronautics. He later pioneered construction of lighter-than-air craft and rose to the rank of commander.
Karl Schmidt died in Los Gatos, near San Jose, California on Sept. 26, 1962.