Christmas has come to ebay in Austria and Germany with an astonishing review of early C20th of colour woodcut, and with nothing more striking than Hans Frank's exquisite tour-de-force Schwartzlilien from 1940. But I warn you, before you go rushing to put in a bid for some of these celebrated prints, the most collectable ones start out at a breath-taking 1200 euros. Included amongst these is a desirable In Ertwartung by the Austrian artist and designer Carl Moser from 1914 (below).
There are two things that strike me here. What always impresses me about the market in Austria and Germany is how much is still available after 100 years and how much you need to pay for them despite there being so many of them (relative to the British market, at least). If nothing else, it says a good deal about the good sense of collectors in both countries. So far as I can see neither Germany nor Austria have John Hall Thorpes and Eric Slaters where people are prepared to pay £1200 (in the case of Slater) for work that cannot begin to compare to the prints you see here. Of course there are Anglophiles in Germany who like to buy English prints, Slater included, but not at that price.
But not everything is expensive and Walter Helfenbein's Zwei Prachtfinken (above) should fit under the Christmas tree without making too large a hole in your bank account and is also well worth having. But then much the same could be said for Carl Thiemann's Birken im Herbst. Made in 1907, it comes from the period when Thiemann was using brighter colours and a more decorative approach to printmaking in general. It also has the great advantage of being from the signed edition. (Others were printed on a mechanical press).
Also from the signed edition is Walther Klemm's well known print Junge Hunde. More out of the way is something very nice by Christian Ludwig Martin. Beautifully made and very pleasing, Boehmerwald dates from 1917 and looks back both to the days of the Vienna Secession and forwards to more popular work of the post-war years. It may not make the pulse race but it will leave you enough to spend on Christmas dinner.
Never really an artist to have much appeal for me and certainly not in the top rank, Leo Frank's Adler im Hochgebirge has all the emptiness of his twin brother at his weakest but with none of the decorative thrill when he is at his best. It's quite acceptable nevertheless as part of the general festive generosity.