Friday, 1 November 2013

Old mill, Sussex by Sylvan Boxsius


I wouldn't normally want to post a print as weak as this, and it is only here because it is of considerable interest. I would think this was an apprenticeship piece by Boxsius, poorly conceived as an image, and poorly printed. You can see the creep of the watercolour to edge of the block. I can never remember, but I think that denotes lino rather than wood, which is how it was described on ebay recently.

I don't know how I missed it, but I did. Thanks to Clive Christie's tip-off, though, here it is. Boxsius didn't start exhibiting his prints until 1930, but was making linocuts some time before that. Looking at this, I can see why he held back. The curious thing is that he became such a master printmaker, in his own way.

The seller was asking the kind of cheeky price he always asks. It's banal telling people that an artist's work is rising. Do they really think that it will encourage someone to pay more? Anyone buying Boxsius currently will know exactly what the prints are going for. Expecting to get £300 for something as disappointing as this, though, is simply naive. But, I have to say, that is the way it is going right now.

And before anyone writes in to say that I hate ebay, anyway, the fact is ebay is a public auction and there is nothing wrong with criticising untoward behaviour, particularly as it has been myself that has put a huge amount of effort into researching SGB. I don't expect credit, just to have my say.

Out of interest I have included another mill that came up on ebay, but this time by Robert Howie.




  1. I like the proportion of this print..but ultimately it's flat and lacking depth. It's obvious what he was trying to show with the fence line and the ruts in the earth. It's not a strong print and it isn't a strong viewpoint.

    Regarding Ebay...well it's a market place and if people want to put a shingle on their shop and welcome in the public from around the world then they should be okay with getting a little stick. I also find the general pandering and blathering to the public about what is art and the rising star of an artist to be transparent. I don't recall if that print sold but if it did it confirms the maxim of how often a sucker is born.

    1. Eventually, he learned to gain depth by superimposing shapes and colours. Seaby said this type of twilight or subdued light worked well for colour woodcut, but one of Boxsius most fetching prints is 'Midday' which uses the same motifs (fence, sheep, hiilside) but to devastating effect.

      The print didn't sell, but there was an additional come-on attached, so who knows what happened? The other print he had no doubt was in dubious condition. What with the Isabel de B Lockyer with holes it, I'm getting pretty fed up with all this.

  2. In my opinion, if there are people stupid and ingenuous enough to pay that amount of money: fair enough. The market regulates itself.

  3. To start with the print didn't sell. It's also easy to say the market regulates itself, as you put it, but there are all kinds of interventions that bring about change. Boxsius has had a lot of coverage on this blog and as a result there is greater interest. That has very little to do with the market; I was only concerned with an appreciation of the artist's work when I wrote about him. But of course I know that people visit conventional auctions, see Boxsius prints, then look at my blog. I have talked to them personally. They then start guessing what the price might be.

    But there is another point about what you call the market. Bidding online and on ebay is fraught with obvious problems to do with condition. I saw 5 Boxsius prints go for over £1,200 when at least three were in poor to terrible condition. The market cannot possibly regulate itself when people behave so unwisely and I think what you said what contradictory. Additionally, sellers on ebay will attempt to cover up deficiencies and people still buy. I think this makes for a very confused market and one where talk about regulation means very little. People simply take a chance; I do, simply because not enough ever turn up.

    Ebay results would only truly reflect current prices if sellers asked for a reasonable opening bid and we all took it from there, but it has become increasingly common for dealers to start ludicrously high. Ebay are at fault for letting people fish in the way they do. A conventional auction house wouldn't wear it.

    I know what Boxsius prints are going for currently. They all average about the same, as they have been for some while, but they've gone up.

  4. it's not very often that you make a mistake... my prints are signed Howey ;o)