The Witch’s Daughter, 1881
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. .
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”:
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):
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, ), p. 162, Eleanor Lewis writes:
Note: owl in “mystic converse.”
Note also: Chapter 7 of this book is titled “Pussy in Private Life.” Really.