Colour woodcut is more of an industry in Germany and the United States than it is here in Britain (where it remains in the shadow of the modish contrivances of the Grosvenor School). This even comes out on Modern Printmakers which now has fewer British readers than American and German ones. There have been a fair number of books published in the US, mainly about individual artists, including William Seltzer Rice, Walter Phillips, Edna Boies Hopkins and Arthur Wesley Dow. Alongside this there are learned articles by Nancy Green from Harvard. All to the good but lacking in any real knowledge of what was happening in Europe, surprising because a number of these Canadian and American artists became friends of British artists and Boies Hopkins even visited Britain before the first war. But what do American scholars know about that?
The Halls arrived in Glasgow in June, 1925, and went over to meet the Lumsdens in Edinburgh. Then in August, they went on a trip to Skye by way of Crianlarich. Apparently while on Skye they stayed for about a week at Portree and then over a number of years, Hall made four colour woodcuts of Highland scenes, including Portree Bay (top) and A croft at Crianlarich (1929 - 1930). Unfortunately, I can't seem to find an image of A croft at Crianlarich and the one above is Cottage on Skye which she made as late as 1940. But it was Gerrie who discovered that Rice had made a woodcut called Aberfoyle, Scotland and, as it happens, Aberfoyle and Crianlarich are only about twenty miles or so from one another.
Hall was a magpie. You only need to look at the work Helen Stevenson was doing by the time Hall visited Scotland, especially The hen wife (1924) to see where some of Hall's ideas for A Highland Croft (1927-1928) came from. Not only that, there are some obvious similarities between Hall's print and Kenneth Broad's A Sussex Farm (1925) exhibited at Los Angeles in February, 1926. But her borrowing worked because the colour woodcuts she made in the States based on the trip to Scotland are the best things she ever did, certainly a lot more lively than the woodcuts that drew their inspiration from trips to France. Hall was a rather repetitive and unoriginal artist as you can see from the basic sameness of the buildings and their similarities to the work of Rice (who had cabin-fever) but as an American she could ignore the British conception of things and made the Highlands look like a cross between the Rocky Mountains and Pont Aven. OK, it's easy enough for a European like myself to snigger but by comparison, Rice looks merely craftsmanlike. The question is, though, was he there as well?