E. J. Detmold: precocious etcher

Edward Julius DETMOLD (1883-1957)
Off to the Fishing Grounds
Etching on simili-japon paper, 1899.

This is a companion piece to a similarly large plate by Edward Julius’ twin brother Charles Maurice Detmold (1883-1908), titled “Duel in the Air”.  Both our composition and the one by C.M. Detmold just mentioned were unusually large plates for the brothers, who used to print their own editions when size permitted it.  This plate was printed at an outside printing studio, due to the large size.

Above: "Duel in the Air"

Off to the Fishing Grounds is regarded as one of the high points of the very young and precocious artist, who were critically acclaimed from the very beginning of their public artistic careers.  Botanical subjects, and birds and fauna in particular, were the main source of inspiration for the Detmold brothers.  This highly unusual composition for its time is truly groundbreaking.  Not only is nature the central motif, as had started to happen throughout the 19th century, the bird’s eye view is arresting and perfectly staged.  By flying above the herons we see their majesty, while also taking a glimpse at irises in the foreground, just below the birds; and while also taking in the vast expanse of the scenery, much as the birds.

In addition to being so novel this etching is also of a finesse that belies the artist’s age.  He was just 16 years old!  Amazing parallel line work creates rich textures in the birds’ feathers.  In the hills, which have been shaded with crosshatching, the lines have been etched for a shorter period of time.  By “stopping out” his ground in these areas, Detmold adds depth to his composition.  Surely inspired by Japanese printmaking in this work, Detmold transcends whatever sources of inspiration he may have had to make this work of art so successful.

Details about this work can be found HERE.

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