John Hall Thorpe: Buttercups in a Chinese Vase

The Chinese Vase is a larger composition by Hall Thorpe, born John Hall Thorpe in Australia, who emigrated to England in 1900 (or 1902).

John Hall Thorpe - The Chinese Vase - color woodcut - still life - Australian British artist

His distinctive style is recognizable in this composition.  Rather than use black lines in his key block to outline the composition, he preferred to use another color which was more complimentary to the rest of the image.  Often the color in the key block carries to a number of other color fields in the image, thus uniting the subject.  The vase which titles this color woodblock is not the central element in this work.  Rather, the variety of colors of the buttercups (ranunculus flowers) is in focus.  The vase, which must have been a novelty at the time, is there to anchor the composition and lend the flowers a sense of scale.  As a matter of fact, the vase is surprisingly devoid of depth, seemingly almost flat, while the flowers, which protrude in all directions, are very much part of the space that surrounds them, despite the lack of background.

John Hall Thorpe - The Chinese Vase - color woodcut - color variant without border

Our impression is representative of the edition for this work.  Hall Thorpe did vary colors, as other images here show.

John Hall Thorpe - The Chinese Vase - color woodcut - color variant with black background

He even went as far as to print a black background in some impressions.  This is an effect he used on occasion with other color woodcuts of flowers.


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