Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) The Joke (Coppel ES 18) The rare linocut printed in yellow ochre, red, brown and cobalt blue, 1932, on buff oriental laid tissue, titled and inscribed 'edition of 50' in pencil by the artist, with margins, 198 x 174mm (7 3/4 x 6 7/8in)(B)
Lot 55*
Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947) The Joke (Coppel ES 18) The rare linocut printed in yellow ochre, red, brown and cobalt blue, 1932, on buff oriental laid tissue, titled and inscribed 'edition of 50' in pencil by the artist, with margins, 198 x 174mm (7 3/4 x 6 7/8in)(B)
Sold for £85,250 (US$ 144,475) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Ethel Spowers (Australian, 1890-1947)
The Joke (Coppel ES 18)
The rare linocut printed in yellow ochre, red, brown and cobalt blue, 1932, on buff oriental laid tissue, titled and inscribed 'edition of 50' in pencil by the artist, with margins, 198 x 174mm (7 3/4 x 6 7/8in)(B)

Footnotes

  • Inspired by Claude Flight's modernistic prints, Ethel Spowers enrolled at the Grosvenor School in 1928-1929 to study linocut under Flight and revisited the school in 1931 under the instruction of Iain Macnab. Flight's influence on Spowers and the other Australians, Dorrit Black and Eveline Syme, was technical rather than thematic. Unlike Andrews, Power and Flight, Spowers was less attracted to the aesthetic of the machine-age speed and movement. Instead it was the colour harmonies and rhythmic expression of Flight's linocuts that fascinated her.

    Spowers's use of strong rhythms, bold colours and simplified geometric shapes is exemplified in "The Joke" which depicts a group of people enjoying an anecdote. While the composition retains the narrative content of her earlier work, it also manifests an evident preoccupation with the rhythmic arrangement of overlapping shapes. It is interesting to note the formal similarities between "The Joke" and the slightly earlier "The Gust of Wind" executed in 1930-31. The curvilear delineation of the foremost figure and the white triangular elements of the adjacent figure's apron echo the stance of the central figure and the stark whiteness and shapes of the airborne papers in the iconic "The Gust of Wind".

    We have found no record of this linocut ever having come to auction and only one impression in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.

    Stephen Coppel, Linocuts of the Machine Age: Claude Flight and the Grosvenor School (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1995), 65-68.
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