Sunday, 20 March 2011

Ada Collier's four bronze horses

Unfortunately, Clive's contribution to the Ada Collier effort arrived too late to be included in the revised post. But I think her fine colour woodcut of the horses on the facade of St Mark's in Venice deserves its own post anyway. This image isn't as pale as I remember it. Although the horses are described as being bronze, they are 97% copper and the verdigris works well against the mauve shadows and sunlit buildings beyond. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find Collier knew Mabel Royd's Indian pieces. The whole image has an oriental feel, accentuated by the strict and very clever organisation of the perspective. It also employs the Japanese method in a more conventional way than the prints in the previous post. I think this woodcut dates from 1924, the year Collier was included in the group exhibit at the Venice Biennale. Every time I see another of her prints, I become more bemused by her lack of recognition. I have to put this down to the fact that her woodcuts are few and far between. With the help I've received from fellow bloggers, lotusgreen, Gerrie and Clive, hopefully these two posts might begin to put matters right for this scandalously neglected printmaker.

For anyone interested in the history of the horse themselves, I include this mock-up of the Hippodrome in Constantinople. (I particularly like the addition of Haghia Sophia without its minarets). The horses may not have started out pulling a chariot above the starting gate (I think they are generally considered to be late Roman because of the casting technique) and were looted during the disastrous sack of the city in 1204 by western troops taking part in the Fourth Crusade. The doge had them shipped back to Venice. Some shopping list he had.


  1. Charles, I am sorry I was tardy to the discussion on Collier. This was indeed exhibited because it was on the back under brown sticky tape, on the back of the frame that was thrown away (oops). I have never considered this before but in fact I think Collier's works are more similar to those of Janet Fisher, who was working at the same time. Fisher studied at Slade and then under Herkomer, then studied at Académie Julian and Académie Colarossi. They both worked in the same period and often in the same locations, and both of them have a similar and very distinct similarity. They used a very matte style of ink and they both used that kind of onion skin paper which was popular in the Munich school of printmaking. That matte ink adheres to the paper in a very different way, whereas the Royds and Kirkpatrick style almost embosses the very thin japan.

    I would say that Collier and Fischer share more similarities than Collier and Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick to me has that watery moment captured style that was more akin to Royds and Broad...but that's my 2 cents worth.

  2. Your first-hand knowledge of the paper and methods used by this group of artists is valuable to us all. Funnily enough, I weighed the option of comparing Fisher and Collier but opted for Kirkpatrick because she and Collier were almost exact contemporaries but, as you say, were different.

    I was also thinking more of style than method. Of all the women printmakers, including Fisher, Kirkpatrick, Royds and Louise Glazier, Collier is the least French whilst Fisher never seemed to throw off the academy. What they all drew from both the French academic tradition and from C19th Japanese printmaking isn't always obvious or consistent. Why should it be?

    I think once Royds tackled her Indian subjects, for instance, her Slade training (particularly the interest in the human figure) reasserted itself. I also suspect that working with students might have had much the same effect.

    Incidentally, I am curious about the Martigues/Augustus John/Slade connection, if there is any.