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Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe

1901 – 1979

Samson and the Lion by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe

Samson and the Lion   1930

  Original etching with alterations by the artist in crayon.
Signed twice in pencil.
S 301 x 205 mm; P & I 280 x 160 mm
Unique working proof impression, worked up by the artist with dark crayon in the areas of grass either side of Sampson’s left leg. Signed twice by the artist in pencil and crayon. An exceptionally rich working proof impression, printed with tone, from the artist’s own private collection.

Hand touched working proofs of any of Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe’s etchings are exceptionally rare. C.F.Tunnicliffe appears to have approached his work in etching with his designs already preconceived from preparatory drawings and, in general, does not appear to have taken or preserved many working proofs during the development of his plates. This unique hand-amended proof impression is one of the few of this style of working proof which remained in C.F.Tunnicliffe’s private collection, along with other items from his studio, after he gave up etching around 1935. After this date, he turned his attention to the more lucrative market of book illustration, through wood engravings, line drawings and watercolours.

Sometimes titled erroneously as Hercules and the Lion in a confusion with the story of the first labour of Hercules, in which Hercules wrestled with the Nemean Lion. This image in fact depicts the biblical story of Samson, killing the lion which he encountered on his way to meet the Philistine woman whom he hoped to marry. The trailing locks of hair which are the key to Sampson’s strength hang beside his unseen face as he wrestles the beast to the ground. In the story, Samson slew the lion, tearing open its body. When passing the carcass later the same day, he found bees and honey in the lion’s body and used the incident to set a contentious riddle for the Philistines.

Provenance: the artist’s own private collection; thence by descent.

On antique laid paper, with uneven margins as printed by the artist. Small group of pinholes, expertly repaired, at top of image; otherwise very good condition.