Unknown Artist

Unknown Artist
Late 19th – early 20th century

This print is very impressive for the skill of the artist in depicting the power and action of plow horses. When purchased, the print had some staining and water damage so it was given to a conservator who was able to correct some, but not all, of the damaged areas.

For a print collector trying to rescue a damaged print, there is always a risk – but usually a skilled conservator can do wonders toward making it look new again. In this case, a previous owner had sprayed it with a plastic coating which sealed the paper fibers, making stain removal nearly impossible. Still, I like the image very much and have it framed and hung in my home.

The print is signed but the signature is not recognizable. It starts with “S” and ends with “ski” possibly indicating a Polish name. Searching is like detective work. You can look for a clue within the print such as its style. Then, if you can match the style to that of a well known artist, you may be able to have it declared as the work of that artist by having experts examine it. In this case, the style was not a clue; nor could the difficult-to-decipher signature be matched with any on the lists of etchers I found.

My next step was to look at content. The harness is of European design. Horses stopped being widely used for plowing in Europe by the 1950’s. An inference can be made that it was done no later than the first half of the 20th century. In Canada and the United States some utopian societies and plain – living religious groups that originated in Europe continue to use plow horses. So I have been searching through lists of etchers in Europe and Canada but still have not found a match. Another possibility is that the artist’s main media was painting and etching was a sideline or even just an experiment with another medium so that the artist’s name would never appear on a list of well known etchers. However, the fairly large size of the etching would indicate an artist experienced in this type of printmaking.

The image is the thing, though, in terms of my enjoyment. While I like researching the history of a work and its maker, not knowing all about it does not lessen the artist’s work for me.

“Pulling Together” ( my title)
image size 15 ¾ x 11 ¾
paper size 20 x 15 ½
Not for sale