By the Sea (aka Idyll)

Arthur B. Davies (1862-1928), By the Sea (aka Idyll), soft ground etching and aquatint, 1919,  signed in pencil lower right. Reference: Czestochowski 72, fourth state (of 5; see discussion below), edition about 21. In very good condition, printed in black on a green laid paper, 8 7/8 x 5 7/8, the sheet 10 1/4 x 8 inches.

A fine impression.

Davies put this complex composition through some extensive state changes, adding aquatint in the second state, grinding it down on the figures in the third state while adding some tint in the third and fourth state. This impression may represent a state later than the fourth since it appears to have aquatint in the sky to the left of the large figure, and slighter aquatint in the sky to the right, which does not clearly appear in C’s illustration of the fourth state. It is in this fourth state that the “branchlike mass of coarse grain” is added about the head of the central figure – this addition balances the composition but does not appear to correspond to any structure found or visible in nature, although it does appear natural enough in aesthetic terms.