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The Old Print Gallery is pleased to announce its new winter show, FEATHERED, which will open on February 19th and run through April 9th, 2016. FEATHERED will celebrate the beauty, power, and reverence of winged animals, captured in prints. Artists have been forever fascinated by birds and their ability to gracefully navigate the open skies on stretched wings, suspended between earth, sky, and water, hopping from perch to perch. FEATHERED showcases the work of three celebrated natural history and ornithological printmakers from the 20th century- Frank W. Benson, H. Emerson Tuttle, and Stow Wengenroth. Each artist offers a unique, distinctive approach to depicting birds is in their prints, which makes for a varied and compelling grouping on the wall.
The prints of Frank W. Benson (1862-1951), nicknamed the father of sporting art, suggest the perspective of a naturalist and bird hunter. His close and watchful examination of a bird’s flight path and tendencies in the water offer a firsthand record of nature, gleaned not from dead models in a studio, but from a close familiarity of birds in the wild. Captured in Benson’s spare compositions and delicate line work, their vital essence is expressed in the way the birds move through their environment- sunlight and shadows hitting their winged bodies in flight, ripples in water as ducks float through still marshes, traces of a whole flock of birds dotting the horizon.
H. Emerson Tuttle (1890-1946), devoted much of his career to drawing and etching prints of birds, both from life, and using stuffed specimens in his studio. Arresting and commanding, his prints take on the appearance of formal seated portraits. Intricate detail is given to the patterns of feathers, the cock of the head, and oftentimes, the direct gaze of the bird. Tuttle’s prints are unswerving and full of personality- his birds take center stage and are only sometimes supported by a background. Tuttle captures their beauty and dynamism with his drypoint needle, imbuing his birds with almost human-like dispositions.
In contrast, Stow Wengenroth (1906-1978) is known for his landscapes, so his birds appear in their expected and rightful place, perched in mottled tree branches, exploring sand dunes, and in flight, weaving among shadows of trees. Birds play a principal part of his New England landscapes, adding movement and breathing life into his lithographic sceneries.