Saturday, 28 August 2010

Dirk Hidde Nijland

Dirk Hidde Nijland
Dutch painter, graphic artist and woodblockprinter

Usually finding a new print by an unknown maker means investigating. Into the identity and/or the backgrounds of the artist. Recognizing the maker this time wasn't very difficult. The style is not to be mistaken. I have no particular criteria for buying a print other then I have to like it and on a limited budget, the price has to be fittingly. This recent find appealed to me very much because of the subject: the river/seaside and its strong geometrical composition. And most importantly, a fitting price. This kind of art, and the appreciation of it has fallen very much out of grace and fashion.

Often pictures like this are cleared out of the (grand)parental house as something that is not recognised as art at all and is often mistaken for a reproduction or old calender picture.
Dirk's father made his fortune in collecting and dealing in art. So he never in his life had to worry much about money and could devote it entirely to art. He was trained from age 15, attending the National School for Figurative Art in Amsterdam and the Academy for Art en Technical Sciences in Rotterdam. At a young age becoming acquainted to and being friends with many influencial artists, painters, poets and writers of his time.

He also lived and studied in Brussels and Paris and very early in his career the incredibly wealthy industrial and art collector Anton Kröller and his wife Helène Kröller-Möller noticing his talent and bought his works. This famous art loving couple brought together the biggest Vincent van Gogh collection in the world thus leaving to the Nation a wonderful and world famous collection and the Kröller-Möller Museum of modern Art. More museums added his works into their collections during his life. He is also represented in many art collections in the Netherlands.

To observe and record daily life, harbour scenery and the riverside is what he liked and did best. The vaste delta of the river Rhine and Meuse meeting the Northsea with its busy ports, its long history of coastal defence and the struggle of men against the water is the recurring theme in much of his work. The opening picture (my new find) is a good example. Bought for only 10 bucks, it made me curious and wanting to find out more about Dirk Hidde Nijland.

In 1916 he was persuaded to try woodblock printing and only a year or two later he was published in Wendingen. This renowned art Magazine published by the Amsterdam society of archtitects ARCHITECTURA ET AMICITIA was to be devoted to architecture, construction and ornamentation. It was published, all by the same editor and designer from 1918 to 1925. The square lay out and wonderfully designed front covers now very sought-after by collectors and internationally famous for the Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, Jugendstil designs. In 1919 Dirk Hidde made his contributions for the special woodblock edition.

If you are interested have a look at:

His work shows that he was a keen observer with a love for the land and people in his home and familiar environment.

These pictures showing he knew very well how to create depth, atmosphere and life into compositions of everyday scenes along the river in black and white according to the contemporary teachings of composition, technics and rules yet developing a strong and very personal style.

"the sleeper", "fishing near the pilots building" .

Besides woodblock printing Dirk Nijland was also a good painter and sketcher/drawer who was capable of catching the very specific Dutch light and atmosphere.

"stormy river", "city along the river"

Around the time the "Zuyderzee" was closed of from the Norh sea by a 30 km long dam in 1932 after 5 years of pionering and revolutionary engenering Dirk Nijland recorded the vanishing life of the former coastal villages, landscapes and its people in many drawings and sketchbooks thus becoming also a historical and geograhpical recorder of a rapidly vansihing way of Dutch history and life. The dam (the "Afsluitdijk") being the second man build construction that can be seen from space. The other one is the Great Chinese Wall.
Dirk Hidde Nijland was rewarded exhibitions in 1950, in the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem; in 1968 in the Groningen Museum and in 1993 in the Drents Museum in Assen which holds also large part of his inheritance.

Friday, 27 August 2010



Dutch linocut printmaker

These 4 small linocut prints (10 x 20 cm) dating from around the 1930's always stayed together. They are not signed and were attributed to Dutch printmaker Arie Zonneveld (1905-1941) but are surely not by his hand.

Although I have no idea who made them I think they are nice enough to make them public and show them here.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

R. Novotny

R. Novotny

Tzech or Hongarian Printer ?

Stumbling over this woodblock print with great colours on Ebay and later finding that Clive wrote a recommendation about it was a bit of a revelation. I think in his description he said "in the old tradition but as late as 1965". That date is written in pencil with a signature: R. Novotny and a title in german: "Abendfrieden" (Evening Peace) I tried hard finding R. Novotny. But although a hord of Novotnys is mentioned in the AKL , the beyond praise German Algemeine Künstler Lexikon not one Novotny in there with first name R. There is one Emile Robert Novotny (1898 -1975) that data could "fit" but if he is the one ? He is mentioned to be a figure and landscape painter, a graphics artist and Linocutter (!)

Recently a very nice oil painting by Emile Robert Novotny was offered on Ebay and sold. I just show it here because it was a very nice painting. A lot of attention for circus paintings because it sold at a very good price !

There were just so many good graphical artists (1900-1960) in Hungary in perticular. More per capita then in any other country. As was the case in Germany. Many a good artist in those days is completely without record or trace of their lives and works in our days. This Blog is all about trying to find out.

The Abendfrieden print after some debating (but nobody wanted it) with the seller changed hands as you will have gathered by now.

M. Snestrup

M. Snestrup

unknown Danish printmaker

I discovered this woodcut in a fleamarket, titled: "girl talking to the plants". It is signed Org. Traesnit, Eger Trisk in Danish: original woodcut, own print. Signed in pencil: M. Snestrup. There is nothing special to it, not technical nor easthetical. But the subject is rather sweet: who isn't enchanted by the mermaids mythology.

There is nothing further to be found on M. Snestrup, the printmaker, on Google. Just a similar print offered in Denmark.

So: I believe it's not a girl at all but a mermaid sitting on the seafloor. Hans Christian Anderson's ((1805-1975) story. And the famous statue by Edvard Erikson made in 1913 "Den lille Havfrue" on the Langelinie in Kopenhagen.

Besides many images of medieval woodcuts I found only this Dutch example (the maker unknown to me too) of "the mermaid of Westenschouwen" 1933. After a local mythical story.
I am not going to make this a posting on mermaids in art (mermaids have inspired so many artists) but when you have only the slightest interest in mermaids and her history you must visit this very interesting Blog: William Bond having more surprising and interesting viewpoints towards the world we live in that I found worth reading by the way. Recommended for all female readers i.p.

From Williams Blog I borrowed these two pictures of mermaids located, as in M. Snestrup's, on the seafloor.

Right : Arthurs Rackham (1867-1939) "Ondine" .

Left: Arthur Hacker (1858-1919) "the water maiden".

This picture of an oil-painting by Pre-Raphaelite painter John Collier (1850-1934), "the land baby" to close this posting written to see if some-one knows this obscured artist M. Snestrup.

With a special thank you to Lotusgreen who reminded me to take better care of "borrowed" pictures and Blog-ethics.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Vitor Lasok ...............?

Hongarian printer 1930-1950 ?

This small posting is a warning to myself never to download an intersting picture again without leaving a marking or tag were I've found it.

In the tag: "vitorlasok balatoni". Not Victor Lasok ofcourse, but translated: "Sailingboats, Lake Balaton" (Hungary).

To my regret and shame I haven't been able to refind it. But I would really like to know the artist !

Henri le Waroquier

Henri le Waroquier

(1881 - 1970)

French mulitmedia painter, sculptor, drawer and graphik artist.

I know... This is a picture I found and borrowed from the Blue Lantern, Jane Librizzi's most wonderfull weblog. Which I wished finding earlier. If you haven't, rush to:

I have done a good deal of rainy-day back-reading on Jane's blog (it should be a book really) and decided to show this print in todays posting. You cannot possibly find this picture or know of its existence because it's from a book: "Images de Bretagne" by Jean-Pierre Fourcade, Paris, Somogy: 2000.
It's very oriental appearance pleases me so much that I wished and tried finding more prints by Henri. But I failed to do so. Henri is probably showing us his studio, paintbrushes and sketches and two chinese vases. In three shades of brown and three shades of gray/black.

Maybe this posting helps finding more of Henri's woodblock art.
for further reading on Henri le Waroquier

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Josef Felsinger

Josef Felsinger
(1908-1972, not confirmed)
Austrian painter, drawer and woodblock artist.

By sheer coincidence unknowingly wandering through the Internet pages and entering a virtual Salzburg University Library I made open a random door and pulled an even randommer drawer.
That drawer possibly has never been opened after WW2. I think. This posting is about what lay hidden.

These 8 woodblockprints were bought by the museum in 1935 directly from the Salzburg artist. I have never seen such colours on such old prints. It's how they are. Not my Photoshop doing.

The strange thing is that you can find some auction-data on the Internet about Josef Felsinger but they are all oil- and watercolour paintings related. Not bad at all, not great art, but most changed ownership and were sold. But no mentioning of any woodblock or linocut printings. And was he good at it !

There is yet another example of Josefs Felsingers printing art and skills ("Gaulandschaft") but that perticular picture wasn't available in the drawer. I will write and ask the librarian to do me a favour. I like to be complete.

I am so amazed about these wonderfull bright colours so different to what old prints usually look like. After a lifetime on a wall and pleasing the owners ofcourse. Everything has its price. Most pre-WW2 images we are used to (except maybe art) are usually black and white. So these bright images giving a very different feeling and atmosphere to that period. The Gentian flowers printed in an unbelievable bleu against the contrasting freshnes of the green and the hazy pinks in the background mountains. It's almost like 3-D. Give it a mouse click and see !

1) Am Arlberg
2) Brautpaar
3) Rosengarten
4) Hohenzalsburg mit Leopoldskronen
5) Besuch im Berghof
6) Berg-Enzian im Wildem Kaiser
7) Pflügende Bauer
8) st. Johann i. T. (im Tirol)

If I am wrong about the obscurity of Josef's woodblock printed art please let me know ! I like to think I opened Pandorra's box and unearthed Josef's wonderfull prints into the light. And that is a hugely satisfying feeling.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Seagulls and the woodblock (III)

Robert Hainard
(1906 - 1999)

Swiss painter, woodblockprinter, sculptor, naturalist, writer, book-illustrator and philosopher.

Like a good teacher Clive subtly let me know that there was an shortcomming in my gulls and the woodblock postings. And absolutely right he is. But he didnot show me. That is what differentiates the good teacher from the bad teacher. "Look it up and find out your self" is the way to learn. Teaching students the modern way (not telling them but raising curiousity and encouragement to investigate) dramatically, improves what is learned and remembered later. It's how the brain functions best.

I created my blog as an intelectual exercise for my personal amazement and amusement. It helps me keep track of my thoughts and mental where-abouts of the moment. Often new acquainted artists and knowledge leading me "hopping" to others. Teachers, students, influences, contemporaries etc..

The results of my exercises being read by visitors (followers even !) with similar interests, who comment, correct and improve is amazing and undoubtedly one of the great assets of the Internet.
There must be more omissions in my postings (and in my english..) Not all is (yet) available and sometimes pictures are hidden deep in the www. soup. Let's not forget that never before in history so much knowledge has been under our easy grasp, at home, instantly accessible. And that it was brought together through the Internet only over the last 15 years or so. And is ever growing. And there is the limiting factor of time. There is more to life then woodblocks and art alone.

Also I am still pretty ignorant and amatorish. But a quick and eager learner too. Completion has never been my intention, thus creating a wonderfull opportunity to learn and share.

On Robert Hainard enough is available and easily attainable on the internet for those interested. For my personal remembering this encounter I have added his "Bluetits" and wonderfull "Swallowtail"and willowblossoms. Wonderfull !

Thanks Clive !

Pamela Colman-Smith


English painter, illustrator, publisher and woodblock artist.

Student of Arthur Wesly Dow.

I found this lonely seagull by Pamela Colman-Smith. To avoid another omission I show it here, Although much (everything ?) is written on this artist I will return soon with a small posting on Dow's handwriting in the background landscapes in Colman's illustrations.

William Seltzer Rice
American painter, teacher and woodblockprinter

This is not improving clarity but how could I have missed this Gulls and Sea by Willam Rice. It should have been hanging next to Arthur Rigden Read's ofcourse. The larger gull in the middle of the wave's white foam isn't that easily noticed and detected in the screens small thumbnail pictures.
I think this ends the Gulls and woodblock posting for the time being. Probably Henri Rivière must have staged and stuffed some gulls in his wonderfull and many coastal Brittany (Bretagne) prints but that I have yet to investigate.
PS: this picture I have found at : Japonism ( and is used with thanks to Lotusgreen.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Seagulls and the Woodblock (II)

Gulls and the woodblock (II)

3) The Provincetown printers

For the Provincetown printers, living in their colony so near the shore it would have been daily encounters with seabirds and they would have been a natural and not to be left out entourage in their marine pictures. The print by Tod Lindenmuth on the left in perticular seems very simple in execution. Three colours only. But it is also a wonderfull study of birdflight. And a study in light. The early morning backlight caught on the front of the wings is something only experienced after carefull observation.

Today, opening the Internet, thousands of still-pictures and as we request moving pictures as well are available on demand. Day and night. In those days (the 1910-1930's) photography was quite something else.

These birds in flight must have been very carefully studied and sketched before they were made part of this wonderfull composition. The rendering of the early morning light is also a study in itself. It's my favourite !
On the right is probably a woodcut and study for the "Gulls and Doreyfishermen" also by Tod Lindenmuth.

Donald Witherstine (1896-1961) Provincetown artist and printer, had a keen eye for the ever present gulls, their behaviour and flight. Gulls at Provincetown wharf: "Messenger of the sea". This very characteristic piece of Provincetown, the old wharf and the pier must have been inspiration for a thousand pieces of art.

Ferol (Katharine) Sibley Warthen (1890-1986)

Grace Martin Taylor (1903-1995)

Barbara Stoughton (1928- )

4) Robert Gillmor (1936- )

Robert Gillmor is perhaps one of the greatest living bird and nature linocutting printers who has reinvented the art of linocut reliefprinting after WW2 in England. The number of publications and books he illustrated is almost countless. Very talented and a great master, the book on his work, "Cutting Away, the linocuts of Robert Gillmor" (first edition 2006) was long out of print was but reprinted in 2009. I'll just show here the Gull prints and a remarkable observation with one other famous British artist that made a wonderfull print with seagulls.

"following the harrow"

There is no mentioning by Robert Gillmor that he knew the "other" and older print but I think his is a secret hommage to British printer Ethel Spowers (1890-1947).

Sea gulls and the woodblock (I)

Gulls and the woodblock (I)
In my recent posting I visited the coast and thus encountered many gull pictures. Living near the coast, and weekend-Islander, I am a longtime gull enthousiast and have a great fascination with these wild birds. I will show all wooddblock pictures I have collected over time. By artist that must have been evenly fascinated. The first is by contemporary woodblock artist Australian Tom Kristensen (b. 1962) a strong cleverly designed print and very much showing the strong and individual character of these majestic birds.

Bror Julius Nordfeldt (1906)
Besides the pictures of Gulls on woodblock-prints shown before in recent postings (Tidemand-Johannesson, Lindenmuth, Wyeth) I shall make a distinction in 4 groups. 1) The Japanese classical masters, 2) the Western Masters 1900-1940 artist (all born around 1875-1890) and 3) the "modernistic" Provincetown artists after roughly 1915, 4) Modern prints (as not shown before in recent posts) 

1) The Japanese Masters

Toshi Yoshida (1911-1995) Antarctic Gulls

Koson (1877-1945), Watanabe Seitei (1851-1918), Koson

Aoyama Masaharu (1893-1969)

2) The Western Masters

Hans Neumann (1873-1957)
I donot know why Hans Neumann changed his composition nor which of the two is the first edited.
Hans Frank (1884-1948)
Frances Gearhart (1869-1959)

Arthur Rigden Read (1879-1955) "Stormy seas" (priv.coll.)
Allen William Seaby (1867-1953)
Helène Grande-Tüpke (1876-1946)
E. Owen Jones (a completely obscured woodblock artist)
"Gulls and sailing boats"
Ludwig Hohlwein (1874-1939)
To be continued with 3) Provincetown artist seagull prints and 4) some modern prints.