The rare portfolio of 34 woodcuts published in 1920 by Verlag Neue Kunsthandlung, Berlin
numbered from the edition of 100 and with the colophon signed 'Emil Orlik'. Complete with title page and list of the titles of the prints; included is an essay by Orlik (English translation below); each print is in its original mount as issued
In the original decorated cloth-covered box of issue
in fine condition
PRICE : GBŁ 8,000
we illustrate the woodcuts as they appear in their original mounts to show the scale of their sizes as well as detail images of each
The woodcuts were executed by Orlik during the years 1896 to 1899 and only a few proofs were printed during that time but the blocks were kept until this edition of 100 of each were printed for this portfolio. Each print is signed 'Orlik' in pencil
Orlik wrote :
1896. My friend Pankok, and I, both painter-etchers, were neighbours in Munich. One day, we had the idea of cutting a little stamp in wood – a monogram –which, as a blind stamp, should be embossed onto our etchings. A woodcutter whom we knew – or rather a wood engraver, a “xylographer” – gave us some little pieces of boxwood, three old gravers (knives), and a short introduction how to handle the tools and make prints by hand using the folding bone.
We immediately started working. We tried to engrave all kinds of things into the back of the wood pieces (and, of course, into our fingers, by accident). And when the graver began to obey the hand and the will – we did not make stamps but a colour woodcut each. Pankok made a portrait of me in four colour blocks, and I made the “Anarchist”. My friend went on to make a few ex libris woodcuts; I, however, took a particular liking to this technique.
The new challenge and the beautiful material gave me so much joy that in the course of the following years, from 1896 to 1899, I made a fairly large number of woodcuts. In the following year, I moved to my beautiful, old home town (Prague) and convereted a tower on Smetanka Street into a studio. There, I started on my own, driven by an inner urge, to explore the wood block’s peculiarities. It was new, unknown territory.
At Littauer’s in Munich I had seen a few prints by [Felix] Valloton and from [William] Nicholson’s Alphabet – and also some Japanese-style colour woodcuts by Otto Eckmann (whose successor in Berlin I would later become). But the knowledge of the workshop was guarded as if it were the dark secrets of an alchemist. At that time, I had not yet seen Munch’s woodcuts.
Thus, these works, which are published for the first time in this small edition (some of them printed in several colour plates), are the result of my attempt at reviving a lost artistic technique.
Like the poet, the artist dedicated to printmaking will find the motives for his works in his experiences and moods. This is also the case for these little prints. The atmosphere of ancient Prague, long walks, experiences and things impressed on the memory have been echoed on the wood block in the simple and summarizing language of the woodcut.. But my restless nature, the joy I take in craft, which nature gave me for better or for worse, led me to Japan in 1900. There, in the workshops of woodcutters and printers, I sought to understand the wonderful technique of the Japanese, and to use it in my own ways.