Friday, 24 September 2010

Cacti and the Color woodblockprint; 2/3

Dutch and German printers

For starters on the left this flowering epiphyllum 1920's woodblock print by relatively unknown and obscured artist J. A. Kort.

The most prolific Dutch lino- and woodcut printing artist in the Arts and Crafts period was without any doubt Arie Zonneveld (1905-1941). His prints were and still are, however out of grace and fashion, widely spread in Dutch homes.

Arie Zonneveld later in life decided he wanted to be an arts teacher rather than being the dullish office clerk he had become and attended the Academy for Beeldende Kunst from 1925 to 1929 in the Hague, Netherlands.

His early prints were relatively simple flower pieces. But very carefully designed and arranged. Often in one color + the black key-block. Later using multiple blocks and more colors creating more complex and landscape compositions.

His choice of subjects and composition is proof he undoubtedly had knowledge of and was influenced by fellow artists in Germany and America.

His art was sold through selected big city art-dealers who ordered prints from a modest list/catalogue on demand if not in stock. Arie only made few numbered and thus limited(?) editions. Careful not to kill the hen with the Golden Eggs. The number of surviving prints are evidence that his enterprise was a success. Although, after his untimely death, only 36 years old of appendicitis, his widow kept printing and selling from the blocks to survive WWII with 3 small children.

German contemporary Ernst Rötteken (1882-1945) in the same period followed a very similar selling strategy in Germany. Resulting in his widespread fame in the province of Lippe. Big editions and no edition numbers. Very popular in the Lippe province even to this day. They look deceivingly simple but are really very good works of Art when studied closely. I am planning a posting on Rötteken's flower prints soon.

There are distinct similarities between the works of Rötteken and Zonneveld. But also with famous Americans Frances Gearhardt (1869-1958) and William Seltzer Rice (1873-1963). The influences of art-teachers Pedro the Lemos and Arthur Dow are evident. Their books on composition and color that were used in art-schools all over the world and even to this day are considered standards or textbooks.

Even famous German Carl Theodoor Thiemann (1881-1966) couldn't resist the attraction of the wonderfull and exotic Epiphyllum flowers and created this wonderfull and spectacular print. Thiemann
created some prints with flowers but is mostly known for his landscapes, sailingboats and swans.

Arie Zonneveld to my knowledge the only artist creating so many different cacti and epiphyllum prints.

Other examples of Dutch Arts and Crafts artists that created color linoleum or woodblock prints of cacti are Jan Schonk (1889-1972) ( left) and Henri Verstijnen (1882-1940) (right). Both well respected and internationally appreciated Arts and Crafts graphic artist.

The makers of these last two Dutch prints not yet identified but the left (signed J.S.) is known with bright yellow flower also.

For some interesting further reading on Arie Zonneveld and his contemporaries:

Cacti prints by German Hugo Noske (1886-1960) and Martin Erich Philipp (1887-1978) will be shown in 3/3 along with all other cacti prints by printers in the rest of the world.
I am sure my research nor my pictures files make a complete oversight of all woodblock prints with cacti. Don't hesitate to email me or leave a comment if you have knowledge of any others please.


  1. Your blog is a great resource! The print marked "J.S." is by Jan Schippers.

    1. Thank you for commenting on this 6 years old posting. Sadly an artist by the name of Jan Schippers does not exist...... What you read is not always what it seems to be.

  2. Hi Gerrie, my compliments for your informative and well written blog, I seem to end up here a lot due to similarities in taste regarding woodblock prints and because you have so much good information up here.
    I own two black & white cactus woodblock prints by Hendrik and Cornelis Rol, neatly signed, however one was signed in pencil with "Cor te Henkie". I have read somewhere that mainly Henk Rol was quite a character. Keep up the good work, love to read more.

    1. Hallo, dank voor je berichtje op deze posting, op een week na 6 jaar geleden gemaakt. Als je me plaatjes wilt sturen ? De broers Rol maakten ook plaatjes voor de Verkade albums.
      Groeten Gerbrand