Monday, 21 October 2013

Dorothy Blackham (1896-1975)

These two hand coloured woodcut prints appeared whilst I was searching auction catalogues for stock. Although not quite "for me", I thought I would share them with my fellower print enthusiasts. The Catalogue description is - Dorothy Blackham (1896-1975) - Two Irish hand-coloured woodblock prints, 'Connemara Hillside', 12 x 20 cm and 'Sugarloaf from the Scalp Wood', 17 x 16.5 cm, both pencil signed and titled to margins. On sale at Andrew Smith & Son - Fine Art, Antiques and Interiors - Lot 72 est £100-150.

The technique looks basic - black line key block with handpainted colours. Auctioneers' listed these as woodblock print, but look more likely to be linocuts. Just as labour intensive as multiple blocks but easier to create, no need to worry over the register of each colour.

Dorothy Isabel Blackham was born in Dublin and trained at the Royal Hibernian Academy, The Metropolitan School of Art, and Goldsmith's College, London, from 1921 to 1922. After completing her training she taught art as well as exhibiting her art. She was awarded medals at the Tailteann Festivals of 1928 and 1932. 

a woodcut type illustration to accompany a poem by WH Letts.

From 1939 until 1945 she worked in Gibraltar among refugees before returning to Ireland when she married. She moved to Donaghadee, County Down, where she continued to paint under her maiden name, in oils, water-colours and tempera. She worked as a commercial artist, designing posters, Christmas cards and producing drawings for The Bell and other magazines.  Her subjects are usually, the Irish landscape, views of mountains with stone cottages and rural life.

She exhibited widely at the Royal Academy, the Ulster Women Artists' Group, the Royal Hibernian Academy, the Royal Society of British Artists, the Ulster Academy, the Watercolour Society of Ireland, and the Arts and Crafts Society of Ireland. Examples of her work are in the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery, Dublin.

Her works regularly come up for sale at auction with prices ranging from $236 for a print up to $2785 for an oil painting titled "Rua-Achill-Sound". I do not know what the Irish art market is currently like, probably not as hot as a few years ago, never the less, I am sure these two prints will sell and probably for more that the estimate.

Here is an example of her signature - one of those that is easy to read if you know what it's meant to spell !
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