Blanche Lazzell - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, October 24, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “The wood block print has the same rank in art as any other medium or expression.”
    —Blanche Lazzell

    Depicting the sweeping river in her hometown of Morgantown, West Virginia, where Lazzell first developed her artistic prowess, The Monongahela sees Blanche Lazzell take the white-line woodcut beyond the geographic confines of Provincetown, in more ways than one. The woodblock matrix was carved in 1919 in the studio of William E. Schumacher at the Byrdcliffe summer art colony in Woodstock, New York; along with her cousin and fellow West Virginian, Ada Gilmore Chaffee, Lazzell was taking classes from Schumacher at the time.  It was during this period on the East Coast that Lazzell wrote disparagingly about her home state: “I wish you knew how I feel about my lack of general knowledge here among these educated people,” she wrote to her sister, Bessie. “And my lack of pronouncing English correctly. Very few Americans can speak their own language. And West Virginians the worst of all.”1 It was one of few times Lazzell wrote negatively about her West Virginian roots.


    Nevertheless, any sense of inferiority Lazzell felt about her West Virginian background was balanced by the pride she took in her art during her periods in Woodstock with Schumacher, or “Schu”, as she dearly called him. “I have never done anything in any way near as good as I am doing now,” she said regarding her white-line woodcuts of this time.The Monongahela reflects Lazzell’s aptitude for the medium while working in Woodstock, combined with a true, beautiful reverence for her home state. In fact, the print amalgamates many facets of Lazzell’s life and work, depicting the Monongahela River of West Virginia, utilizing the hallmark style of the Provincetown Printers, and working from a block cut in Schumacher’s New York studio. Almost entirely composed of arcs and ellipses, from the scalloped contour of the shoreline to the river’s curve around bulging hills, Lazzell’s depiction of the Monongahela River contains nearly no straight lines – save for the illuminated windows of the town’s homes. The leafless tree and cool colors suggest a winter scene, the relative darkness imbuing an atmosphere of a crisp evening. A glowing twilight beyond the horizon, represented by a singular yellow band, gives the impression of a transitory sky, blanketing Lazzell’s native Morgantown with a diffused, graceful light, masterfully utilizing the watercolor application of the white-line woodcut.



    Susan M. Doll, “Blanche Lazzell Biography,” in Robert Bridges, Blanche Lazzell: The Life and Work of an American Modernist, p. 27

    2  Ibid

    • Literature

      John Clarkson block 16, p. 17
      Barbara Stern Shapiro, Blanche Lazzell and the Color Woodcut, 2002, cat. no. 8, p. 27
      Robert Bridges, Kristina Olson and Janet Snyder, Blanche Lazzell: The Life and Work of an American Modernist, 2004, cat. no. 6.11 p. 185
      James and Tara Keny, The French Connection: Midwestern Modern Women, 1900-1930, 2014, p. 23

Property from a Distinguished Maryland Estate


The Monongahela (C. bl. 16)

White-line woodcut in colors, on wove paper, with margins.
I. 12 x 12 in. (30.5 x 30.5 cm)
S. 15 3/4 x 13 3/8 in. (40 x 34 cm)

Signed, titled and dated in pencil, additionally numbered '20/2' in pencil on the reverse, Clarkson records 10 impressions based on the artist's record book, framed.

Full Cataloguing

$7,000 - 10,000 

Sold for $25,400

Contact Specialist
212 940 1220

Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 24-26 October 2023