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Frederick Carter

1883 - 1967

The Slayer of the Dead by Frederick Carter

The Slayer of the Dead   1926

  Original engraved woodblock, accompanied by a signed large paper proof impression of this wood engraving.
Woodblock inscribed with the title in ink on the edge of the block. Proof signed in pencil.
Block: 116 x 102 mm. Proof: S 405 x 265 mm; I 115 x 96 mm
Original Fredrick Carter wood engraving.

The original engraved woodblock engraved for Frederick Carter’s seminal work The Dragon of the Alchemists a book of Drawings by Frederick Carter (Elkin Mathews Ltd., London, 1926). Unique. This item is sold together with a rare signed large paper proof impression of this wood engraving. Both items come from the artist’s own personal collection.

The intricate wood engravings of Frederick Carter have always been considered to be the artist’s greatest works. Their inspired designs brought him three successive gold medals for book illustration in the National Competition, South Kensington - the most prestigious award of his day. Frederick Carter developed an unique, almost calligraphic style of wood engraving, shown to particular effect in this imaginatively worked block. He began by drawing his original design in ink directly on to the wood block and then either he, or his assistant W.M.R.Quick, would carve away the surrounding wood, leaving only the lines of the original drawing standing proud to form the printing surface. Thus, the block becomes a permanent record of the drawing which is itself destroyed. When inked, the recessed areas of the block do not print and only the raised lines, which represent the original drawing, transfer the design to the blank paper, thus creating the printed image.

Frederick Carter’s deep interest in alchemy and all aspects of the supernatural and the occult, led him to produce an esoteric symbolism which is apparent throughout his work. Nowhere is this displayed more clearly than in his works for The Dragon of the Alchemists. A great believer in the power of the subconscious, Frederick Carter had experimented with automatic drawing between 1915 and 1924, along with fellow symbolist Austin Osman Spare. He hoped that this might prove to be a means of releasing suppressed associations and images from the subliminal, through which he, like the early alchemists, might discover the essence of life itself.

The block is made from three sections, bound together with wooden joints and is inscribed along one side in ink The Slayer of the Dead. It is in very fine condition and would print successfully in its present state.

This item is sold together with a rare signed proof impression printed from this block (an excellent proof, prior to publication in The Dragon of the Alchemists). The accompanying proof is printed on fine simile Japan paper, with unusually large margins and deckle edge, and is in very good original condition. Both block and proof come from the artist’s personal collection.