Saturday, 18 February 2012

Lyman Byxbe (1886-1980)

But what is this signature ?? I could easily read the Lyman, but the surname ? Bythe ? -- No. After a few goes at googling I was soon able to established that this was a work by the American artist Lyman Byxbe (1886-1980) This
 is a new name to me, as before I found this lovely little dry point etching of a small and furry chipmunk, I had never heard if this American artist printmaker.

Who was he ? and what other work did he create ?

Lyman Byxbe was born near Pittsfield, Illinois, USA. Although he did not attend formal art school, he became a commercial artist based in Omaha, Nebraska and whilst in Omaha he met and was taught the art of etching by the local architect, Mark Levings.

From the early 1920's Lyman and his wife visited Estes Park in Colorado as a regular summer excursion. It was these trips that inspired him to establish a permanent studio there in 1934. Spending his time capturing the Rocky Mountains scenery in his many detailed and evocative etchings. His view of the rugged mountains with wind swept trees, seem to have been particularly popular.

Byxbe and his gallery.

His work received critical recognition and he was soon exhibiting widely, including a one man show at the Smithsonian Institute in 1937/8 where he had over 60 works on show. He became an elected member of the Chicago Society of Etchers, an achievement for an artist with no formal training. His pictures can be found in many national collections, including the; The Smithsonian Institute, The Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Arts.

From the etchings I have seen on the internet, the majority of his printed works are landscape studies of the rugged landscape around his home area. These must have been popular at this time, but to modern British eyes, they are now a little passée and out of fashion. His studies of North American Indians, would are more eye catching but perhaps not appreciated in the UK. Oddly the only animal study I have seen is this chipmunk. I wonder whether he did any other cute and furry creatures ??

As a sample of popularity, I alway have a quick looks at auction prices and numbers that have come up for sale. For Lyman, there are 30 listings, which is quite a high number and would suggest that he is a name that auctioneers and therefore collectors are looking for - either that or he was so prolific that every auction has a few in there "and other miscellaneous prints" section. Values ? no clue there, as they range from $30 to $600.

For those of you interested in further research - I was able to trace 2 book relevant to the subject, including a reference work by his daughter. Click on the titles to find copies for sale.
The Prints of Lyman Byxbe
The Prints of Lyman Byxbe (1886-1980): A catalog raisonne

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