Friday, May 15, 2009

Linocut by Gertrude Hermes

I have always regarded the work of Gertrude Hermes very highly. Her lively cutting and wonderful textures makes her work a treat to behold. It was, however a unexpected pleasure to be offered one in a gallery yesterday. The proprietor had shown some interesting works and, knowing that I was an engraver, went to an upstairs room to fetch another print. It turned out to be a Gertrude Hermes Linocut.

The image is of a bullfighter. This is not a particularly sympathetic subject for me but her handling is masterly. The black image is printed over a textured background printed from another block (Click on the images to enlarge them):

The print was signed and dated 1955 and inscribed "Bullfight 4" and then "No.1". On the reverse were two labels, the artist's address and a second one informing the reader that this was the print in the original frame that was exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1956.

I asked the price of the print and was told an acceptable sum. I decided to go away and think but, in the end, decided to buy the piece and add it to our collection. Once broght home and cleaned, we identified a suitable spot and I hung the linocut.

Gertrude Hermes taught Sarah Van Niekirk who taught courses that I attended in the early 1990s. Hermes was married to Blair Hughes-Stanton, who taught my former colleague Pat Townshend, who first showed me the ropes of engraving. As a result, I have always felt that Gertrude Hermes was part of my printmaking ancestory and, having enjoyed her work in museum collections, I have, for a long time, hoped to acquire a piece. I am very happy.


Annie B said...

Congratulations on your purchase, Andy. I hadn't heard of Gertrude Hermes before, but I knew of her husband, so thank you for the introduction. Wonderful to know your lineage! I like the textured background a lot.

Barbara Mason said...

What a fabulous find! I have always loved her work and have a book of her prints as well as one of Stanton, for some reason I did not realize they were married, only that he had been her instructor. I am jealous but know this print as a good home and is valued. Glad you made it yours!

Bette Norcross Wappner -- said...

How wonderful to have a print of hers especially since she is a large part of your close engraving ancestry. I too am not so fond of bullfighting you could see the image as a symbol for conquering your own passion of wood engraving :)

All the best,
Bette Wappner

Mellissa Read-Devine said...

Thankyou for the opportunity to see a brilliant printmaker - great movement! Wonderful that you have a meaningful piece for your collection

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful find! I'm no fan of bullfighting either, but one can't deny the spectacular rendition that was such a signature of hers. Well done for acquiring such a fine print.

Unknown said...

I just found the same print yesterday. I was not aware of Gertrude Hermes, but now, I am a big fan of her works. I was immediately drawn to such a superb depiction of conflict.

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Unknown said...

I found a copy of this print some time ago in a charity shop with the same address label on the back but no reference to the RA so glad to get that information - thank you. I'd always admired her work especially the woodcuts. I notice that another copy is in the Government Art Collection.