- Museum number
- Object: The Engraver (for Bill Hayter)
Four abstract figurative compositions surrounding text of poem by Ruthven Todd. 1947
Deep etching and engraving printed in relief
- Production date
Height: 247 millimetres
Width: 177 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This relief etching was part of the 'The Ruthven Todd Portfolio', or 'Fifteen Poems, A Collaboration using the Printing Methods of William Blake', printed at Atelier 17, New York. The portfolio included works by Alexander Calder, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, Helen Phillips, Abraham Rattner and Yves Tanguy. The printing seems to have taken place between 1947 and 1949 when the plates were delivered to Aimé Maeght in Paris in an attempt to interest him in a commercial edition. They appear to have been subsequently lost.
The Scottish poet Ruthven Todd came to New York in 1947 and became friends with Hayter and the group of surrealist artists working at Atelier 17. Todd was interested in Blake's poetry and had examined his original publications, which led him to take an interest in their printing methods. He wrote in November 1948 "For our first experiment we took a plate by M. Miró, bitten as a relief etching, and inked an unengraved plate of the same size by running a roller across the face. This we placed carefully upon the top of the engraved plaate and worked over it with our hands to transfer the ink to the other surface. Next the plates were separated, leaving the bitten one with a reticulated layer of ink. We then took a pull of this in an ordinary rotary press and found that in every respect except that of the platemark the print, speaking technically, resembled one of Blake's own printing, (incidentally noticing the impression of the relief etching remained upon the blank surface, we took a pull of that and got a kind of Polytype with the print a reverse of that produced form the engraved surface). Ruthven Todd, 'The Print Collectors Quarterly, Vol. XXXIX, no.3 (Nov. 1948).
The New York Public Library holds a complete set of the portfolio apart from the etching and corresponding surface print by Rattner, which have never been traced. Various trial proofs before text exist of the Masson and several of the Miró's, which also exist as experimental colour proofs.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number