John La Farge (American, 1835-1910) The Enchantress , 1867
John La Farge (American, 1835-1910)
The Enchantress, 1867
Unsigned, identified on an exhibition label (see below); mailing labels from Mrs.
Rodman Gilder on the reverse.
India ink on an uncut woodblock, 7 x 5 1/2 in. (17.5 x 13.8 cm), framed (under glass).
Condition: Splits to block, not examined out of frame.
Exhibitions: John La Farge: Watercolors and Drawings, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York.
N.B. "La Farge's interest in illustration dated from the 1850s," according to Kathleen Foster, "along with his early study of Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites, but his serious work along such lines began after a lengthy illness in 1865-1867 forced him to give up outdoor work." La Farge worked on woodblock with a brush for a number of his illustrations, including those for Songs from the Old Dramatists of 1873, which ultimately became the prefered technique of illustrators, but when La Farge began this practice in the 1860s it was new and problematic for line engravers who were uncertain as to how they should carve La Farge's washed areas. His preference for the use of the brush perhaps stems from his early training and great comfort with watercolor technique. By the late 1870s this had become his preferred medium. His interest in the sinuous lines of brushwork was further solidified by a trip to Japan in 1886. "La Farge introduced a new mood of imaginative fantasy into American illustration. Often he dealt with terrifying themes, such as danger, abandonment, strange encounters..." says Henry Adams, and that is certainly true of the composition presented here. For further reading see Henry Adams et al., John La Farge (Abbeville Press, New York: 1987).