John Austen "E Dro — Comedy of Errors" Colored Wood Engraving
John Austen "E Dro — Comedy of Errors" Colored Wood Engraving Published 1939, by the Limited Editions Club of a limited edition of 1950, on high quality wove paper. The Images are all unsigned, measuring 5.5 by 9 inches on a sheet measuring 8.5 by 13 inches in excellent condition. The Colophon is NOT included BUT may be down loaded to keep with your purchase.
John Austen was born in Kent, England in 1886. That's the same year as Kay Nielsen, and both share a fascination with a style of art made most popular by Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898). As Impressionism and Art Nouveau were confronting and confusing the public, the "decadent" style of Beardsley was finding its own audience. Harry Clarke, Nielsen, Alastair, and others were enamored with the strength of line and form and startling, solid blacks.
It wasn't until 1906 when Austen came to London, as a carpenter, that he was first exposed to Beardsley's work. The effect it had on him was said to be overwhelming and he began to study art - and Beardsley in particular. It wasn't until 1921 that he had his first illustrations published. The book was The Little Ape and despite being an obvious paean to his hero, the illustrations contain a seed of uniqueness that kept them being slavish copies.
Throughout the '20s he illustrated dozens of books, continually refining and simplifying his style while practicing to be, as Dorothy Richardson says in her essential, John Austen and the Inseparables, "...the perfect aesthete, precious, even in appearance, to the finger-tips; and a trifle cynical." The self-portrait in woodcut above is taken from that book.
In 1927, he illustrated The Gods are Athirst, one of the Dodd-Mead series of Anatole France reprints, best typified by the volumes by Frank Papé. The sample image at right shows that he certainly had the manner of the "aesthete" captured perfectly. Love the slippers.
By 1930, he'd abandoned the pretenses of the London "artiste" and was back in Kent. The style he had settled into was similar to the fine-line and cross-hatch texturing of the cherub at left from The Guardsman and Cupid's Daughter (1930). Much of the decade of the '30s was devoted to books for the Heritage Press or the Illustrated Editions Club.
Some of the titles: Vanity Fair, Pickwick Papers,David Copperfield, Oliver Wakefield, and A Comedy of Errors.
He wrote a book titled The ABC of Pen and Ink Renderingin 1937. He wrote and illustrated Persuasion in 1946. He died in 1948.
Art (paintings, prints, frames)