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William Giles

1872 - 1938

The Haunt of the Jay by William Giles

The Haunt of the Jay  

  Original woodcut and relief print from zinc plates, printed in colours.
Signed and numbered in pencil.
S 365 x 482 mm; I 294 x 422 mm
This striking colour print of a Jay in flight is widely regarded as one of the finest works by the innovative colour printmaker William Giles.

Very fine signed proof impression printed in colours from multiple zinc plates and woodcut blocks using the method which Giles invented for colour printmaking. Numbered ‘28’ from the only edition. The edition is thought to have been 30 proofs only and examples are now rare.

William Giles was one of the most important innovators in original colour printmaking in Britain during the first three decades of the twentieth-century. Having begun with the traditional colour woodcut method, he experimented widely, first with aquatint and then with relief printing from zinc plates in an attempt to produce pure, even areas of colour. He developed a novel range of inks ranging from watercolour mixed with rice paste, to powered colour dissolved in volatile oil, in order to achieve an ever greater range and depth of colour throughout his prints.

His first experiments using zinc plates for relief printing date from 1902 and by 1920 he had developed a novel technique using multiple zinc plates coated with shellac. Each zinc plate was inked to print a single colour from the raised areas of its etched surface and no ‘key block’ was used (the innovation of omitting the traditional ‘key block’ must now be regarded as one of Giles’s great contributions to the art of colour printing – a contribution which is normally accredited to Claude Flight). This impressive colour print was one of Giles’ most successful experiments, made using a combination of woodcut blocks and multiple zinc plates. The result is a strikingly effective image with fresh, even colours of a nature unique to the works of this pioneering artist.

On thick cream simile Japan paper, with full margins. Faint mottling to sheet in margins, one or two pressure lines visible in raking light only, otherwise generally good condition.