Signed proof impression printed by Gwen Raverat herself in 1923 – a proof aside aside from the published edition of 40 impressions.
Gwen Raverat’s ability to observe every small nuance of behaviour is demonstrated to the full in this marvellously incisive wood engraving, with its children straining after distractions as two women pass salacious details to one another across a park bench. This image has the alternative titles of Les Commeres and Maternity.
Gwen Raverat was a highly individual and intensely personal artist who contributed greatly to the revival of wood engraving as an original art form at the beginning of the twentieth-century. Her first engravings date from 1909 and by 1920 she joined her colleagues Eric Gill, Edward Gordon Craig, and Robert Gibbings in founding the Society of Wood Engravers.
The grand-daughter of Charles Darwin, author of the Origin of Species, Gwen Raverat began wood engraving purely as a personal interest. Much of her work prior to 1932 was produced soley for her own pleasure – few of these engravings were issued in formal editions and all are now scarce. She adopted a simple yet striking style of wood engraving technique which did not depend upon the detail and pattern of lines obtained through the use of the tint tool. Rather, she concentrated upon the use of stark contrast with only simple shading to create stylish designs of perceptive intensity such as this striking image of Scandal.
This engraving stems from the years which Gwen Raverat spent in the south of France caring for her ailing husband Jacques. Gwen had met the young Jacques Raverat through the circle of Rupert Brooke, whilst he was studying at Cambridge University, and they married in 1911. The couple had but two years of happiness, before illness cast a shadow over their lives. Jacques suffered from a form of progressive paralysis which led to a continual deterioration in his health. In 1920, when Jacques could hardly walk, they moved to Vence in the south of France, remaining there until he died in March 1925.
On fine simile-Japan paper with margins as prepared by the artist herself. Very fine original condition.