Thursday, 7 April 2016

A modernist colour linocut for sale on ebay


Before you all go hurrying off to look at British ebay, the colour linocut proof up for sale right now is not the superb impression, above, of Sybil Andrew's Steeplechasing (1930) but the less exciting one, below. Of course, when I saw it, I hurried off myself to do some research because I recognised Andrews style, well aware that other people would do exactly the same thing. But it isn't Andrews; it is someone else.

Who it is, I don't know, and I can't say I particularly care but it is interesting to see artists making good copies of classic British linocuts - good untill they are compared with the original when you see just how exceptional Andrews could be. I am a fan, certainly more than I am of Cyril Power or Claude Flight and frankly I think it was basically dishonest to edition such a close copy. It isn't exactly the same because one pair of coat-tails is missing and the marks below the hedge are different, but in basic respects, it is similar. The print has also mis-registered, something I don't think you would ever see in Andrews.

Somehow whoever did it missed the point though. Andrew's stylish Grosvenor modernism (because she wasn't really a modernist, she was only pretend) has been lost. The sharp, geometric shapes that gave the Andrews' print its up-to-date appeal look like a cereal packet in the copy. You can also see that the edition is ten, not really an edition number that you would expect from Andrews. In fact, she made three. The British edition was fifty and that was followed by the U.S. edition, which was sixty. You can see USA 32/60 on the image above. It also appears that the Osborne Samuel proof at the top was from the US edition. There was then an Australian edition in 1936 but with only twenty proofs taken before the lino-block failed. There were also trial proofs that have come up for sale.

So far as price goes, the ebay print is up with a starting-bid of £25 wheras proofs sold in Britain sold for about £15,000 at Christies and last year another went for £19.000, so I dio hope what I am saying is correct. Decide for yourself.


  1. I can see the, slight, differences but to be truly honest: I would have settled with this cheap version/pastiche. Before reading this posting that is.

  2. Other people agreed with you because the print sold for about £40, with three people after it, while an fine unsigned Kenneth Broad colour woodcut sold for only £58 a few days later.