Monday, 2 April 2018
Timothy Cole’s wood engraving, “Intimacy”, 1910, after Eugène Carrière
Timothy Cole (1852–1931)
“Intimacy”, 1910, artist’s proof wood engraving after Eugène Carrière’s (1849–1906) oil painting, of the same name (aka “The Big Sister”), c1889. See Carrière’s painting at the Musee d'Orsay: http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/painting.html?no_cache=1&zoom=1&tx_damzoom_pi1%5BshowUid%5D=1846
Wood engraving on tissue thin wove (Japan) paper signed by the artist in pencil and laid upon a support sheet of washi paper.
Size: (sheet) 26.3 x 20.8 cm; (plate/imageborderline) 19.3 x 13.5 cm
Inscribed on the plate within the image borderline: (lower left) “Eugène Carrière”; (lower right) “T. COLE Sc. 1910”
Hand signed in pencil by the artist in the margin at lower right.
Condition: exceptionally well-printed artist’s proof impression hand signed in pencil and laid upon a support sheet. There is a restored (closed) tear at the right and a few other almost invisible restorations at the outer edge, otherwise the print is in near pristine condition.
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This print has been sold
Interestingly, Carrière’s oil painting, “Intimacy” (aka “The Big Sister”), c1889, that Cole’s wood engraving reproduces was a milestone work in the Carrière’s oeuvre. According to the Musee d'Orsay, critics applauded the exhibition of the painting in the 1889 Paris Salon as demonstrating that Carrière was THE “painter of domestic life and mother and child figures”. There is more to this image, however, than showing a tender moment between the artist’s wife and daughters—Elise and Nelly. The image is poetic magic in its focus on the connection between the figures and reflects the interest of the Symbolist movement of the time, in the sense of capturing by metaphor “absolute truths” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbolism_(arts)).
Regarding Cole’s translation of Carrière’s painting into code of exceptionally fine horizontally engraved lines and subtle rhythms of white dots, the delicacy of his translation is almost unbelievable in terms of representing the lightly applied brushstrokes and tones of the painting’s grisaille colouring. Of course, Cole was the master of this very demanding medium of wood engraving and he is one of the most famous of the reproductive printmakers for his interpretation of early masters in line and dot. What makes this hand-signed artist’s proof worthy of extra attention is that Cole has managed to show in a very convincing way the blended modelling of an almost ethereal subject portrayed by a 19th century master; a level of skill that is far removed from the crisp silhouette edges and sharp tonal contrast of many of the earlier artists Carrière is famous for reproducing. This is a masterwork of wood engraving!