Baptism (or, Group of Ten Men – One Seated)


Arthur B. Davies (1862-1928), Baptism (or, Group of Ten Men – One Seated), drypoint on zinc, 1917, signed in pencil , printed in black on very thin laid paper. In very good condition, cockling top and bottom margins (result of printing process), the matrix excellent, 6 3/8 x 4 1/4, the sheet 9 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches. Reference: Czestochowski 52, second state (of 2), total printing unknown but small.

A fine rich impression of this great rarity (most of the other impressions are in museums), with substantial burr from the drypoint work, with platetone overall but carefully wiped to shed more light on the central figures.

An excellent example of Davies’s cubism, which he experimented with after the 1913 Armory Show (which he was instrumental in organizing). Here Davies begins with a characteristic composition – a complex Symbolist figural group – and re-works it in a modernist/cubist spirit.  Baptism, and the few other cubist/modernist prints that Davies did at this time are important expressions of the growing American interest in modernist art; Baptism is one of his most successful achievements in this realm. After several more such works he returned to the “pre-modernist” Symbolist idiom which had earned him the esteem of his artist colleagues, and the reputation as one of the great American artists of his time.