Schuylkill River


John Sloan etching Schuylkill River, 1894, signed, titled, annotated “100 proofs” [only 25 were printed], also signed by the printer “Peter Platt imp’ in pencil lower left margin.  From the edition (of 25) all printed by Peter Platt.  Morse 60, only state. Provenance: ex. coll. VO and MP Potamkin Collection; Kraushaar Galleries.

A fine impression, with plate tone.  On a tan wove paper with a partial crest and fleur de lys watermark, with margins, in good condition, a tiny nick right edge, slightest browning toward outer margin edges, 8 1/4 x 5  1/4 (the sheet 12 1/2 x 10) inches, archival matting.

A relatively early (and rarely seen) print for Sloan (1871-1954), he was 23 when he made this etching. Here are his later comments on the print: “One of my few plates that looks like an etching from the connoisseur’s point of view.  It might be that had I pursued the direction here suggested my etchings might have become quite popular. This plate was made with William Glackens beside me, absorbing his first and only lesson in etching.”

By 1894 Sloan was coming into his own as an illustrator for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Glackens and Sloan had become devoted students of a local artist just a few years older than Sloan – Robert Henri.  At this stage Sloan had become interested in Japanese prints, Fin de Siecle French posters; also, of course, there’s the hint of aWhistlerian aesthetic here.

Peter Platt was one of Sloan’s best and most favored printers.  This print demonstrate why: the subtle use of plate tone (ink left on the plate during printing process) gives the impression an atmospheric quality.