Archive for the Engraving Category

Nannie’s Dance, 1842

Posted in 19thC, Engraving, SFW, Tam O'Shanter on 2 January 2010 by redwitch1

Here is another depiction of Nannie’s Dance. (Nannie is, of course, the “winsome wench” in Robert Burn’s Tam O’Shanter (1792). She is the central figure—”plump and strapping in [her] teens”—wearing a “cutty sark” (short shirt) while “merrily footing it round” with a group of witches in a ruined church.)

The artwork is by J. M. Wright, it is titled “The Witch’s Dance In, Tam-O’Shanter” and it appeared in the Complete Works of Roberts Burns, Illustrated (London, George Virtue, 1842). The engraver is S. Smith.

Although Nannie’s negligee is described by Burns as “considerably too short to answer all the purpose of that piece of dress” (i.e. to cover her backside) most illustrators have provided her with a “sark” just as long and substantial as those on the “wither’d beldams, auld and droll” that she is dancing with. This is certainly true of the most famous illustrations, those by John Faed (below), which were published in 1855 and frequently reprinted.

Wright’s “The Witch’s Dance” appeared thirteen years before Faed’s. As you can see below Nannie’s “sark” is shorter and thinner than those of her companions, as it should be, and her left arm is free of her sleeve, exposing half of her torso. Both her companions and the viewer are blessed with a sight of Nannie’s left arm, shoulder and breast. How very risqué for 1842!

[Wright's Nannie]
[Faed's Nannie]

Faed (below) followed Burn’s description of the group as comprising “Warlocks and witches in a dance.” He depicts ten(?) figures dancing “hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels” in pairs. Most, but not all, of the pairs seem to be one male and one female, but because all of the dancers are not clearly visible, and many are not facing the viewer Nannie is the only female clearly visible. (Of the five other figures who are clearly visible, four are males who are facing the viewer and one is a female who is facing away from the viewer.) The impression given is of Nannie as the sole witch dancing among a group of Warlocks.

[Faed's dancers]

Wright (below) also has ten figures, five female and five male; the six figures seen at length are also equally divided: three female and three male. The central, and the best illuminated, figure is Nannie. She is the focus of the dance, the others dance around her, and although all the female figures have their heads covered, Nannie is the only one wearing a witch’s hat. The impression given is of Nannie as the most important witch dancing among a mixed group of witches and warlocks.

[Wright's dancers]

Although the Faed composition is better engraved, and Faed may have been the better artist, I prefer Wright’s composition—certainly as far as Nannie and her fellow warlocks and witches are concerned. When it comes to gothic detail it is a closer contest. Both depict “Auld Nick,” but Faed’s devil is a little easier to see. Faed also includes a sarcophagus and skeleton, whereas Wright only has a spirit appearing from above. Faed’s composition is beautifully and convincingly illuminated by candles (look at the shadows they cast), but it is not at all clear how Wright’s scene is illuminated. So, like I say, all credit goes to Faed as an artist, but Wright’s composition is the winner.

The Witch’s Daughter, 1881

Posted in 19thC, Engraving, Lithograph, SFW on 28 December 2009 by redwitch1

Here is something for our blue-moon New Year’s Eve: “The Witch’s Daughter” by Frederick Stuart Church (1842–1924), engraved by J. P. Davys. This lithograph was published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine [New York], vol. 67, issue 398 (July 1883), p. [164].

When the original sketch of this composition sold by Argosy gallery, New York, at Christie’s in 1990 it was “accompanied by an etching of the same subject which is signed F. S. Church and dated 1881 in the plate.” So my Harper’s lithograph is, in fact, a reprint of the original etching, which was based on a sketch.

The original sketch is described as “signed F. S. Church, [lower right], signed again and inscribed with title and copyright, [lower left]—pencil, pen and black ink on board 13 3/8 x 9 in. [33.2 x 22.8 cm.]” Unfortunately, I have been unable to discover how much it sold for.

According to The New York Times (Sunday, 1 April 1906), p. 7, a painting of “The Witch’s Daughter” was part of the Evan’s Collection in 1906: “The Evans Collection: Exhibition of American Paintings at the Lotos Club”:

The Chairman of the Committee on Art of the Lotos Club has had a congenial task, this time, of arranging an exhibition of pictures from his own collection at Monclair, N.J. … There are in the collection of Mr. W. T. Evans ninety canvases, all by American painters. … Among the figure pieces of note are … and ‘The Witch’s Daughter,’ by F. S. Church, has lured a snow white dove to her hand.

Three years later, on 10 March 1907, Evans donated forty paintings to the National Gallery. Perhaps this painting was among them. If so, I have been unable to find any trace of it after 1906.

If you haven’t seen this image before—like my lithograph of an etching of a sketch of a painting—here is a passage in an article from the Illustrated Weekly Magazine from The New York Times (Wednesday, 19 September 1897):

The Studio of F.S. Church

One of the earliest of Mr. Church’s works to attract widespread public attention was ‘The Witch’s Daughter,’ which is familiar in every American Household through numberless reproductions, and which depicted a dainty maiden clad in flowing, clinging draperies, seaten on the new moon’s silver cresent, conversing with a blinking owl, against a background of flying clouds.”

Note: “every American Household.” So, if you are American and you haven’t seen it there is clearly something wrong with your “Household.” And, note to self, “numberless reproductions.” Why did it take me three years to get one?

Anyway, a final tit-bit for you, in Chapter 6 of her book Famous Pets of Famous People (Boston: D. Lothrop, [1892]), p. 162, Eleanor Lewis writes:

A well-known artist in New York, Mr. F. S. Church, makes frequent and delightful studies of animals and birds although not so much for their own sake, perhaps, as for that of some thought to which they are the fit accessories. Now it is a maiden wandering in desert places, alone, save for the savage beasts her innocence has tamed … there a witch’s daughter in mystic converse with an owl.

Note: owl in “mystic converse.”

Note also: Chapter 7 of this book is titled “Pussy in Private Life.” Really.

The Witches of Hedwig Pauwels, 2003

Posted in 2000+, Engraving, Exlibris, PSFW on 28 November 2009 by redwitch1

This gorgeous bookplate is by Hedwig Pauwels. (For my previous post on exlibris bookplate—explaining what they are, how they are produced and for whom—see here.) It was produced for K. H. Anger in an edition of one hundred copies and is titled “Witches’ Sabbath.”

Pauwels (b. 1934) is Belgian. The multilingual website for Graphia V.Z.W—”an association aiming to promote graphic small scale art, especially the ex libris”— tells us that “more then 900 exlibris [have] sprouted from [his] creative brain”:

These refined graphic works earned him in a short time span an outstanding international reputation, as well as awards, not only in his own country but also in France, Germany, and the Czech and Slovak Republics and even in other continents. His total oeuvre bears witness to playful fantasy, life optimism, sense of humour and a great professional knowledge, rooted in a strong tradition.

(See here for more of this brief biography in Dutch, French, German and English).

Apparently, Graphia published a book about the exlibris work of Pauwels, which appeared on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the organisation.

This book, containing reproductions of all the bookplates made by Pauwels between 1952 and 2007 (922!) and a complete index, can be ordered at the secretary. It has a hardcover, contains 248 pages and costs 35 euro. The bibliophile edition contains a signed print and can be obtained for 60 euro.

There are five figures in this exlibris: four witches and a faun or devil. Starting with the minor figures, at the top right we have one witch mounted on—or falling off—a goat, she is flying above a faun.

These figure are balanced at top left by another witch leaping through the air with a broom in her right hand.

In the centre foreground are two witches, one witch with blonde hair just taking off on her broom and another …

with a black bob siting on her bush—I mean, on the brush—of her broom.

Witchy Bookplate, 2001

Posted in 2000+, Engraving, PSFW on 17 July 2009 by redwitch1

This 2001 bookplate is signed by a Russian artist V. Zhitnikov, about whom I know nothing. It depicts a naked witch, on a broom, who is holding a devil by the tail. The devil seems to be fleeing with the witch’s clothes, which she is trying to get back. The caption is “Ex Eroticis”

A bookplate is a small print or decorative label made for a book collector, which is pasted onto the inside front cover of a book, to indicate its owner. Since some books are valued for the people who have owned it, or more highly valued if they have had famous owners, collectors have long been interested in bookplates as indicators of provenience.

But decorative bookplates have also long been been collected, in their own right, for their artwork. After all, many famous artists have created images for bookplates. Since it is easier to have—and to display—a collection of bookplates rather than a collection of books with the bookplate still inside them, many collectors have removed the bookplates from books and just kept the bookplates.

Eventually, bookplate collectors—collectors of ex libris (meaning “from books”)—simply started commissioning and collecting ex libris that had never been pasted into books. In fact, these days, most ex libris are not, strictly speaking, ex libris at all, since they have not, and never will be, from books. Rather, they are small format and small print-run original artwork, with the name of the artist and the name of the commissioning collector.

Ex libris are commissioned, purchased, sold or traded by collectors and dealers at regular fairs and meetings. The commissioning collector may choose the composition, but artists also create designs and hawk them to collectors at fairs and online. Since there is no collector’s name in this case it is likely that V. Zhitnikov is entirely responsible for the composition. In some of my other witchy ex libris the collector is named and so they were probably commissioned.

There are scores of books on the subject of ex libris that have been published by societies and collectors, including catalogues of the work of individual artists or of different themes (especially erotic ex libris, such as this one). These catalogues and books are also often printed in quite short print runs, like the ex libris themselves. Consequently, the whole damn area of collecting is quite exclusive and expensive and I don’t claim to know anything much about it. There may be a book on the subject of erotic witchy ex libris; but if there is, I don’t know about it! I just buy what I like: and I liked this one. I hope you do too.

Jean Morisot’s Sexy Witch, 1925

Posted in 20s, Engraving, SFW on 3 July 2009 by redwitch1

Bernard Perroud, who has a great blog, has drawn my attention to a single sexy witch image by Jean Morisot (alias “Jean de Sauteval”). Morisot (1899-1967), issued his art in portfolio albums. The witch image is, apparently, from an untitled album of ca. 1925. After a bit of wandering around on the net I found the rest of the images from the album (look here), but could find out no more about him or it.

Coincidentally, in my weekly circuit of my favourite blogs I discovered that “losfeld” of Au carrefour étrange [At the Crossroad of Strangeness(?)] has just done a post on Morisot. As he explains

Les phynances du carrefour étant au plus bas ces derniers temps, peu de nouveaux achats. Mais il y a suffisamment de rares images délicieuses sur le net pour alimenter un peu ce blog en attendant mon salaire de ministre.

Voilà donc qu’un jour d’errance sur le world wide web je tombai sur un port-folio vendu sur une petite fortune sur un site de vente. Signé Jean de Sauteval. Quelques recherches (peu poussées) m’ont appris que sous ce pseudonyme se cachait un médecin, Jean Morisot, né en 1899 et mort en 1967. Qui en sait plus me prévient.

[Money being low at the Crossroads lately, there have been few new purchases. But there are sufficient rare delicious images on the Net to feed this blog a little, while waiting for my wages from the Minister.

A day of wandering on the world wide web and, Voilà, I came upon a portfolio that sold for a small fortune on an auction site. Signed Jean de Sauteval. Some research (not very thorough) and I learned that under this pseudonym hid a doctor, Jean Morisot, born in 1899 and died in 1967. Whoever knows some more can tell me.]

A little searching and I found the portfolio on eBay for EUR999 (it didn’t sell for this amount, and is no longer listed) and a record of an actual sale, at a Paris auction by Hubert Brissonneau for EUR340 (here). The images on Au carrefour étrange are from the eBay auction. And these, fortunately, include the portfolio title-leaf and colophon—undated—which enabled me to track it down.

The details are: Douze Images badines et facétieuses inventées, dessinées et gravées à l’eau-forte par Jean de Sauteval … (Gomorrhe: a la goutte de sperme, n.d.) [A Dozen Images, Phallic and Facetious inventions, drawn, engraved and etched by Jean de Sauteval … (Gomorrah: at the Drop of Sperm, [no date]).]; quarto (330 x 250mm), in a grey slip-case, edition limited to 115, this one initialed in pencil by the artist.

The eBay portfolio does not show the witch image, but there is one image in common between the eBay portfolio—dated to 1930(?)—and the album that I linked to above—dated to 1925(?)—that does include the witch. So, it possible that the eBay portfolio is completely different from the online album, but it also possible that it is the same. Either way, I have opted for the earlier date. And don’t hold your breath for a larger image: at EUR340–999 it’ll be a while before I get a copy!


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