A New England Family (The Father)

zorachnewenglandfamilyMarguerite Zorach (1887-1968), A New England Family (The Father), linoleum cut, c. 1917, signed in pencil lower right margin. One of a small number of proofs; there was no edition. In excellent condition, on a very thin cream Japan paper, with margins, 12 7/8 x 8 3/4, the sheet 15 3/4 x 10 5/8 inches.  Archival matting. .

A fine impression of this very rarely encountered American modernist/cubist print.

The Zorachs (William and Marguerite), who met in Paris, spent several summers in Provincetown (1915, 1916, 1921, 1922), with artist friends such as Max Weber and Marsden Hartley, and the summers of 1917 and 1918 at Echo Farm, New Hampshire, which probably provided the subject matter for A New England Family. Marguerite was used to farming during the summer, dating back to her early days in California, and at various times the Zorachs worked on farms that had sheep, horses, geese and, as pictured here, cows.

Given the disparity in size of the father and mother in A New England Family, and the children playing at the bottom right,  it’s probable that the composition does not depict the Zorach family. The couple had a first child, a son, in 1915 (Tessim) and a daughter in 1917 (Dahlov), so conceivably one of them is pictured here with the huge Bunyanesque father figure, dressed in lumberman’s attire, carrying a child in his left hand and holding the much smaller woman’s hand in his right hand (lower left).  The flat, cubist/modernist aesthetic reflects Marguerite’s exposure to emerging currents of modern art both in Europe and back in the US.

The linoleum cut technique was well suited to Zorach’s approach to printmaking at the time; she could carve the image herself, and print it herself by hand, often after returning to their Greenich Village apartment after a summer of art making. Zorach was focused on the artmaking, not marketing or distribution of prints, so she did not edition them, number them, sign them all, or keep careful records of the number of prints produced. Most of her prints, such as A New England Family, are little known and exceedingly rare, but are gaining an increasing appreciation among knowledgeable collectors.