Tuesday, 31 May 2016


Hans Heysen (1877–1968)
"Turning the Plough”, 1918 (printed 1920 in an edition of 55)

Etching (from a zinc plate) with plate-tone on fine cream laid paper, signed in pencil (lower-left margin)
Size: (sheet) 15.8 x 12.1 cm; (plate) 7.3 x 8 cm
See detailed description of this print: http://www.printsandprintmaking.gov.au/impressions/5391/

Condition: marvellous well-inked impression with plate tone and retroussage (i.e. ink lightly dragged from the etched lines), signed in pencil with a thin spot in lower margin (verso) and remnants of mounting hinges (verso); otherwise in excellent condition. There is an ink stamp monogram "KG" (verso).


I am selling this iconic image—and one seldom seen for sale—from the Heidelberg School, acclaimed masterwork by Heysen for AU$2300 in total (currently US$1673.48/EUR1504.78/GBP1155.54 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this image with all the strength and heroic stature of a Millet (without the melancholy), please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


This is Hans Heysen’s most famous print and, arguably, one of the most famous prints in Australia. In my opinion, it is also one of the few images in the genre of rural work that can hold its own commanding presence even when placed beside the works of legendary masters like Jean-Francois Millet (1814–75). In short, this is a masterwork.

Regarding its status in the oeuvre of Heysen, Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan offer the following account: “The drawing for this etching on a sheet of studies of a man ploughing with a two horse team, in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia. The study and etching are about the same size. A larger, fully developed charcoal drawing of the same subject was made after the etching and the Wynne Prize winning watercolour 'The toilers' in 1920. The two draught horses in these works are Polly and Jack, who were regularly brought in to plough and cultivate the soil at Heysen's property 'The Cedars' at Hahndorf. Another watercolour of them ploughing is in the Gallery's collection. Heysen was able to proof his etchings on his lithographic press, but the edition was printed by Lionel Lindsay, who encouraged Heysen to etch. 'Turning the plough' was included in the first exhibition of the Painter-Etchers Society in 1921 …” (Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, “Australian prints from the Gallery's collection”, AGNSW, 1998).



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