Selected Artists: Peggy Bacon, Albert W. Barker, Will Barnet, Leonard Baskin, Thomas Hart Benton, Isabel Bishop, Abe Blasko, Ernest Fiene, Emil Ganso, Gordon Grant, Marion Greenwood, Irwin D. Hoffman, Martin Lewis, Charles W. Locke, James Penney, Robert Riggs, John Sloan, Bruce Waldman, Max Weber, and Anders Zorn.
Our partners in New York City, The Old Print Shop, have a stunning set of floral watercolors by 20th century artist Edith F. Johnston. Not much is know about Johnston, who created during the early to mid 20th century. She was illustrator and co-author (along with Margaret McKinney) of “A Book of Garden Flowers” published in 1941, “A Book of Wayside Fruits” in 1945, as well as “A Book of Wild Flowers” published in 1946. These publications offered rich insight and advice to their readers, with notes on planting windows and care for a multitude of flower varieties. Johnston and McKinney also included light history of each flower, including its use in ancient cultures and any symbolic meanings. Every book featured full-color multi-stone lithographs, after drawings by Johnston.
The original watercolors shown below vary in design and arrangement but all show a propensity towards illustrating with strong and dramatic color palettes. It is possible that several of the watercolors were studies for plants featured in her books. These unique works on paper would make beautiful additions to any natural history collection.
To see more by Edith Johnston, click here.
Today we are exploring the work of artist Albert W. Barker (1874-1947). A resident of Rose Valley, Barker’s scenes depict the farmlands of southeastern Pennsylvania through loss of farmland, early industrialization, and the Great Depression.
Barker was born on June 1, 1874 in Chicago. In 1890, Barker began classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied charcoal drawings, as well as met his future wife Bess Morot. From 1903 to 1913 he taught at the School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia, before returning to study at the University of Pennsylvania. A lover of the classics and archaeology, in 1921, Barker received his Ph. D in Greek archaeology.
Barker’s first attempt at printmaking was etching, but he was unsatisfied with both the manner of image creation and his results. In 1926, Barker began collecting nineteenth century French lithographs; an infatuation with the medium quickly prompted him to try his hand at creating his own lithographs. He studied with Bolton Brown, the master lithographer of the day, learning the subtleties of drawing on limestone and printing his own editions. He advanced quickly, and was soon writing essays and articles on the lithographic technique. In 1930, he published “Lithography for Artists.”
Barker’s early charcoals and lithographs are predominantly landscapes, sometimes dotted with barns or early farm equipment. By the mid-1930s, his prints include portraits of the farmers and workers of the land he loved so much. Not limited by his stark black and white palate, Barker instead filled his prints with atmosphere. The clouds reach and fill the outer limits of the print’s image, and with subtle gradation, his grassy hills stretch out in an unyielding expanse. Printing in a sort of monochromatic realism, his farm scenes show the strenuous, yet quiet life of his neighboring farmers. Barker’s prints are a tribute to the beauty of the Pennsylvanian landscape and the family farm in a time when he saw both slipping away, threatened by industrialization and the financial choke hold of the Depression.
Click here to see all available lithographs and original charcoals by Barker, currently in our gallery inventory.
154 Years Ago Today…..
The First Battle of Bull Run was fought on July 21, 1861, near the city of Manassas, Virginia not far from Washington, D.C. It was the first major battle of the American Civil War. The Union forces, led by McDowell, were slow in positioning themselves, allowing Confederate reinforcements time to arrive by rail. Each side had about 18,000 poorly trained and poorly led troops in their first battle. It was a Confederate victory which ended with a disorganized and hasty retreat of the Union forces. Below are several prints we have of the widely documented (and illustrated) first battle.
“Well, I think that if this world lasts for a million years or two million years, or more, that never can you exhaust the subject matter of humanity or nature. It’s simply inexhaustible. I feel abut my own work, for example, my interest is more in nature now than in man-made things; I don’t know how much time I’ve got left, but I’d like to have at least another lifetime like I’ve had to say what I want to say about nature. I just don’t think I can ever get it said. There just isn’t time.”- Charles Burchfield (1893-1967)
We are in the last week of our exhibit Resonant Terrain. Stop by the gallery today or tomorrow to see this show of landscape-themed prints (including this particular Burchfield lithograph) before it comes down.
Quote from Oral history interview with Charles Burchfield, 1959 August 19, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Read the whole interview here.