Sunday - 26 October 2014

Prints pioneer still generates heat

26 October 2011Written by Alex Capon

Prints by Edward Wadsworth (1889-1949) are not a common sight on the market, but the Yorkshire-born artist who became a leading exponent of Vorticism was a prominent printmaker in the early stage of his career.

He started the year after leaving school and his wood engravings from before, during and immediately after the First World War are regarded as pioneering.

Their desirability is enhanced by their rarity.

The engravings were not produced in large editions (generally 50 copies or fewer) and only a few copies have survived to this day.

The appearance of a signed copy of his 1919 woodcut Blast Furnaces at the Lawrences' sale at Crewkerne on October 14 was therefore a notable event - no copy has seemingly been offered at auction for over 20 years.

The condition of this example, which came from a local deceased estate in Somerset, was far from ideal however.

There were several areas of skinning and paper loss which compromised the image as well as the margin.

This limited the bidding on the day, and it ended up selling to a foreign collector at a low-estimate £2000.

The following lot was a copy of Wadsworth's book The Black Country, which came from the same source.

Containing three smaller reprinted woodcuts (including another version of Blast Furnace) and 20 black and white plates of the artist's drawings of industrial scenes, it was one of 50 signed copies published by The Ovid Press in 1920.

 It drew decent interest against its £500-1000 estimate, and sold to a London buyer at £2500.

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