Half Nude on Elbow

John Sloan (1871-1954),  Half Nude on Elbow, 1931, signed in pencil lower right, titled lower middle, annotated “100 proofs” lower left. Reference: Morse 250, sixth state (of 6). From the edition of 75 printed. Printed by Peter Platt, with his characteristic drying tack holes at the bottom and left of the sheet, with wide margins,  printed on a cream wove paper, 3 x 5, the sheet 9 x 11 1/2 inches.

A fine impression.

Sloan routinely wrote “100 proofs” on many of his prints, regardless of the actual number of impressions printed. In this case a total of 75 impressions were printed in the definitive state, 25 by his favored printer Peter Platt and 50 by Ernest Roth.

At this stage of his career Sloan had seen the Rembrandts and other old master paintings now-installed in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and was experimenting with new approaches to painting, including the use of a cross-hatching technique to achieve varying tonalities. His etchings of nudes, such as Nude with Furniture, were done as part of this evolving aesthetic, at a time when Sloan was perhaps more focused on being a fine artist than portraying local landmarks (though of course these nudes were landmarks of a sort).

In this context, Sloan’s later (1945) comment on this print is of interest: “Here there is an attempt at linework of too much delicacy which interferes with the sense of realization.” Curiously, the intricate linework in Half Nude is reminiscent of many of Rembrandt’s etchings.