Sunday, 8 September 2013

D.N. Morgan

Here's an unusual and attractive British printmaker you don't come across very often, the colour woodcut artist, D.N. Morgan. He was a major in the British Army and was awarded the Military Cross in 1915 (although I don't know where). I suspect he had Edinburgh connections but he ended up working in Sussex in the later twenties.

Both these delicate colour woodcuts remind me of the work of Frank Morley Fletcher's students like Elizabeth York Brunton. He was exhibiting with the Colour Woodcut Society in the mid to late 1920s and it strikes me that after that he either opted for brighter colours or he began to use linocut.I assume these were intended as a pair. They certainly go together well, although  Richmond, Yorkshire  is the stronger of the two. (The other print is Branscombe Chine, Bournemouth, which is Urushibara country.)

You do need to beware because he also produced lithographs at some point that look very similar to these other two prints of India. The one above is The Jhelum, Shrinigar, the one below is Shrinigar, Kashmir. Both date from 1929 and, for all the strength of colour, they lack the impact of the first two, which obviously make conventional use of the Japanese method of woodblock printing.

Still, I suppose I wouldn't mind any of them if they were a lot less than the £250 starting bid on ebay, that is. (The first two prints only). If I wanted to spend that kind of money at auction, I would have to be buying something a bit more special than Major Morgan. Rarity doesn't count for someone with such a low profile. It's only quality that matters.

And for anyone that missed them the first time around, they are back again on ebay today and the same starting bid of £250 will produce the same result.



  1. Despite their immediate appeal, you are quite right about the price Charles. I would say the seller is delusional. One of these prints comes in at nearly 400 USD for an artist who has charms and skills, but is no master of the print. By comparison I purchased the much lauded Quedlinburg-am-Hartz by William Giles that had never been framed or taken it out of the original presentation folder for 250 USD. That print is extremely rare, and I had never seen it outside of Studio Magazine or mentioned in books.

    I know which I would rather.

    On the matter of Ebay, there is a rather wonderful Meryl Watts print for sale (just about 60 USD) although the numbers she wrote on the print mar it somewhat, it is an attractive piece and priced well.


  2. But what you paid for your Giles is more than it would have been a year or two ago. I assume you mean the one with the dog-cart. If so, Manchester Art Gallery have an image online. It's like early Seaby prints. Not many of those come up either.

    Starting prices like this show up the downside to ebay. It's not like an auction house where sellers are 'guided' by the auctioneer on price and wouldn't be able to fish for a single buyer like St Ives Art are doing. But that's the auction game.

    There was recently a sale of nine Boxsius prints where people were falling over themselves to buy things. One lot of 5 went for £1,100, with some prints in terrible condition. And as usual with Boxsius, many of them were small. There is currently a nice if gloomy Urushibara up there at £345 which has a wormhole actually in the image. But people spend this money, I have no idea why.

    But the worst side to all this is that it has taken the fun out of buying the kind of prints we like and turned into business. It's all so scruffy.

  3. I agree Charles but I would have purchased the Giles for 400 and it is still much much cheaper than what dealers charge, so I am more than pleased.

    That particular one sells for much much more with most dealers than I would ever pay. I think for the condition, I did well. Auction's are fine with me, something is only worth what someone is willing to pay, and it's all swings and roundabouts. No doubt the above mentioned items will not be sold but who knows. Maybe some people know more than I do.

    Giles is a print-maker I love and willingly buy....and some do it for Boxsius. Ten years ago, he was affordable, now, he is out of my price range. I am more ambivalent about it, and see it as a reminder to buy when I find things I love.

  4. Really, I think you did well with the Giles. I remember you getting your Springs of Clitumnus, which you did well on.

    Giles and Boxsius are to some extent two sides of the same coin. Stand by for a trip to Quedlinberg with the pair of tem.

  5. I have just bought a small woodcut by Elizabeth York Brunton, my first foray into woodcuts, paid a small price, it has huge charm and fine it very appealing.
    will now look for other similar works by her or contempories

  6. York Brunton has a post of her own where you can see a few of her prints. You were fortunate. Her work is rare and I think it will be difficult to find anything else by her. I have only come across one print by her for sale in the past ten years.