Wednesday, 21 September 2011

George Crouzat (1904-1976)

This investigation stared with the purchase of this fine art deco bronze medal of a Pan like figure playing his pipe.

As you can easily see, it is signed G Crouzat ? but who was this artist and when did he work. After quite some time Googling, I have managed to piece together some details of his life and career.

He was a sculptor and medalist; born Leopold George Crouzat in 1904 in the city of Castres in the South of France. His father was a successful coachbuilder in the city. The family home was in the Boulevard Clemenceau where you can see a commemorative plaque. At the age of 19 he moved to Paris to study at the Ecole Nationale Superieure Des Beaux Arts in Paris where his tutors included Paul Landowski (1875-1961) and Dropsy (not sure which ? Jean Baptiste Emile Dropsy (1848-1923) or Henri (1885-1969)).

He was awarded an Honourable mention at the Société des Artistes Français in 1928 for a coin designed for the Paris mint and awarded a silver medal in 1938. During the course of his career it is believed that he modelled over 200 statues and 350 medals with many examples in the collection of the Musée de la Monnaie de Paris.

His catalogue raisone includes many of French coins and medals, including the 1945 Médaille d’Honneur Departementale et Communale. Also several monumental scultpures such as the 1948 replacemant figure in stone on the monument to Jacques Bujault, the French MP for Deux-Sevres, the original having been requisitioned in 1941 during WW11.

He also worked in terracotta, probably as studies or marquette for larger bronzes or sculptures.

The information here has largely been translated from the original French - please click on the links below to view the original texts.

To return to the "20thC Medal Artists" index - CLICK HERE
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Internet references include;

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Kitzbuhel - Borg - Mystery

This is a bit of a call for help.

I bought this picture on eBay from the UK listed as a wood block print of Kitzbühel signed Borg ?? I think I talked myself into buying this as I thought it might be a "sleeper" and worth a small risk. I only half heartedly believed I would win it and only left a small bid. YES, I did win. I paid and it arrived beautifully packed with a £2.00 coin included to refund the over payment for the postage. Sometimes, very rarely do you need to leave better than 5*****'s as feedback.


A very striking image of the Tyrolean town of Kitzbuhel in the winter with a seemingly giant peasant woman in the foreground. A familiar style ?? Yes; I knew I had seen it somewhere, but who ?? Herbert Gurschner (1901-1975)

You can see how easy it was to mix these two images up - very similar composition. Only a few minor problems. Firstly mine is not a woodblock print, not even a linocut but a stencil or pochoir and secondly the signature aren't the same. Does this mean two artists or one artist with two signatures ? Perhaps my Borg is copying Herberts popular style.


Monday, 12 September 2011

Gustave Baumann 1881-1971

I came across these pictures whilst doing my daily search through auction catalogues online and was absolutely amazed by these prints. Not so much by the quality but the estimates of between $1000-4000 each !! wow !! I didn't know woodblock print could be worth so much and from the photos the paper looks dark and brown.

I had to know more - I did know of Baumann but only by reputation. I have never found one or seen one "hands on" in front of me at auction or in a gallery. These two are very striking images, especaily the trees. Not sure about the slightly kitsch dotted line framing the image or the shield seal - these do seem to be typical of his work even if they slightly distracting.

But who is he and why are they so valued. 

Gustave Baumann was born in Germany and moved to America with his parents when aged only 10. From the age of 17 he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before returning to Germany in 1904 to study at the Kunstgewerbe Schule in Munich. During his time in Germany he learnt the techniques involved in woodbock printing. After his return to America he settled in Indiana as part of the Brown County Art Colony where he developed his style of printmaking. Unlike the woodblock revival in Europe he used a printing press rather than the Japanese inspired "handdruck" or hand pressed method.
Baumann's prints were very well recieved and he was awarded a gold Medal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition and from the numbers that survive his work must have been popular. "Prolific" is often a term used in art circles to describe those artist who churned out hundreds of basic formulaic pictures on a purely commercial basis. Is Baumann one of these ?? NO; I don't believe so the quality is maintained and perhaps the quantity can be explained by his use of a printing press rather than more time consuming hand burnishing of the paper on to the inked blocks.

Did he have assistants - inking and printing. Like today "modern artists" Jeff Koons with many "studio assistants" actually making many of the works. Or Andy Warhol ? Well; NO assistants - he controlled all aspects of creating the prints. Cutting, inking and printing - again unlike the Japanese.

Back to my initial thought about values - I checked on and found nearly 200 sales at auction with sales prices up to $22,000 with the majority selling for $3-6000. But why are artists like Oscar Droege NOT worth $1000's, he was prolific and creating many fluid but strikng images which were beautifully printed. Perhaps you need to be a pioneering American based artist to reach these dizzy heights of values.

This one is for sales at - $25,000

Friday, 9 September 2011

Ludwig Burgel

Here are 2 recent purchases to view.


These charming coloured etchings are by the Austrian printmaker Ludwig Burgel (1901-1980), an artist who had studied at the Vienna Art School and went to create these prints of the Austrian landscape.

Gerrie the Linosaurus has already written a posting about this artist, which should be viewed for the full story and with more pictures. CLICK HERE to view.


The original labelling below helps clarify that the note "Og Rad" isn't the titled but an abbreviation of "Original Radierung" or Original Etching.

If the number 166 refers to his own catalogue, then he was prolific.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

William Giles (1872-1939)

Another recent purchase -

Something a little bit different, at least for me. I have not really considered looking for ex libris bookplates and from the numbered listed on ebay, I can only assume that there must be considerable interest in collecting them. 

The bright colours of the one caught my eye hanging on the wall of a shop that I had not been in for years. Only the day before I had been looking at a blog posting about this artist. At the time I was struck by his use of colour in his very modern looking prints. So I bought it !

It was only after I got home and read the label that I realised that they was more to the story. Typical of me not to read the back of a picture. I just thought the prawn was just a motif used by the artist, not that the whole design formed a pictogram - shrimp before a town - Shrimpton and therefore A M Shrimpton. Ada M Shrimpton (1858-1925) was also an artist and married to William Giles.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Kathleen Rawlinson - Printmaker

A striking image by a forgotten artist.

A 4 or 5 block colour print of Geese by a river with oast houses in the background, which would most likely place the view to Kent or East Surrey. Probably a linocut but could be a woodblock print.

Not much to say about the artist. All I could find was that she lived in Eltham (the Kent part of South East London) and was recorded as a painter and mural artist who exhibited between 1934 and 1937 including 3 works shown at the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.

More information needed - please

Friday, 2 September 2011

Arthur Wragg 1903-1976

I came across these magazines recently whilst trawling around a few antiques centres trying to find beautiful items to sell for profit. As I failed to find any I resorted to buying something that just grabbed my attention, ohh and was cheap !! little or no risk.

So, I came home with two volumes of "Opera - The Magazine For Music Lovers" - which is odd since I have never been to an opera and often turn the radio off if opera is playing. With these it was the graphics that caught my attention, something very woodcut-ish about the illustration.

Both the covers are illustrated by an artist Arthur Wragg in an art nouveau style with an Aubrey Beardsley feel to them. Clearly inspired by the literary journal "The Yellow Book" published between 1894 and 1897; the covers of which were designed by Beardsley. A surprising choice for these publications since they date to 1924, a time when you would expect more of an art deco influence.

See - for more about the history and influence of this publication.

A couple of years ago I bought 4 of the original prospectuses for The Yellow Book in the form of the paper covers wrapping the subscription forms. These sold quite well but sadly my photos of them were lost when I changed PC's !!.
Who was Arthur Wragg ?? 

Arthur Wragg (1903-1976) was a British illustrator and commercial artist. The son of a travelling salesman and a telephonist, no artistic back ground there !! He studied at Sheffield School of Art from 1916 before working as a commercial artist in London from 1923. Initially working on various womens' magazines. He seems to have been a bit of a radical and went on to design the covers and cartoons for left wing newspapers such as the Tribune and the Peace News. As a friend of the pacifist preacher Canon Dick Sheppard he  became a "Sponsor of the Peace Pledge Union" and was imprisoned during WW11 as a result of being a conscientous objector. He wrote and illustrated several books on religion.

Quoting from The Dictionary of 20th Century British Book Illustrators - "a deeply religious man, Wragg seems to have been tortured by what he perceived as the inequities of life and by the underlying brutality of civilisation" and this britality is reflected in his illustrations. The stark black on white is thought provoking enough even before reading the books.

When he wasn't being radical he did find the time to create the illustrations for numerous periodical and books. Including;The Psalms for Modern Life (Selwyn & Blount 1933), Alice Through the Paper Mill (1940), Jesus Wept (Selwyn & Blount 1935), The Complete Pacifist (1937), Thy Kingdom Come (by Wragg himself 1939), The Place at Witton (by Thomas Keneally 1964) and works by Housman, Bronte, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell and many more. There are over 400 hits on his name on ABEbooks, even allowing for duplicates, that is a lot of illustrations. His style was very graphic often resembling woodcut rather than the more common pen and ink line drawing usually seen in publications of the period.

Later in life he designed the artwork for the record covers for the Argo Record Company and commercial client such as Abdulla Cigarettes. For a full posting about Wragg and his record covers try reading the blog

And after all this careful trawling of the internet, I find that a memoir titled Arthur Wragg: Twentieth-century Prophet and Jester has been written.

All very powerful, deep and dark - but returning to the origin illustrations, they now look quite amateurish compared to is later work. However, it would be easy to forget that at that time he was only about 21 and a year out of college and was probably working in a style he had learnt rather than "his" that he was yet to develop. 

Internet references