American Printmakers On-line Catalogue Raisonné Project
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Copyright ©
2006-2007
by Jeffrey Coven
The Prints of Ernest Fiene:
A Catalogue Raisonné -- in progress
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Deep Winter [2]*
Catalogue Entry # 100
(Click for explanation of titles and Catalogue Entry #s)


Click the image for enlargement.

Date: 1965

Medium: Lithograph printed in colors****

Edition: 22 -- Please See "Edition" notes below.**

Dimensions: 14 3/8 x 20 3/4

Printer: Atelier Desjobert, Paris***

Typical pencil annotations on impressions from the edition: (See below)**

Public collections holding this print: CU

Topic galleries for this print:
1. Color works
2. Farm/Ranch Scenes
3. Nocturnes
4. Prints with a French Connection

Notes

Fiene's Final Work?: When Ernest Fiene died of a heart attack on August 10, 1965, he was making color lithographs at Atelier Desjobert in Paris. As Clinton Adams recounts, Dehn was "forced to face the sudden death of his longtime friend, Ernest Fiene, who was struck down by a heart attack while both artists were working at Desjobert's." (Adams, Dehn 40). Seven of the eight editions Fiene created there are signed, dated, titled and otherwise annotated in his conventional manner. It is that eighth edition (Deep Winter [2]) that provokes speculation. Apparently, the impressions of Deep Winter [2], with the exception of a number of artist's proofs (twenty-two), remained unsigned by the artist himself. This leads to the conclusion that Fiene died after signing and titling the artist's proofs but before he had a chance to sign the full edition. His death at this particular juncture further suggests that Deep Winter [2] is the last work of art, print or otherwise, that Fiene created. (See "Edition" below for more on the signed and unsigned impressions.)

The darkness of the imagery in the print itself seems to foreshadow the death of the artist. Sylvan Cole, president of Associated American Artists in New York, wrote to Fiene in Paris (in a letter dated July 30, 1965, eleven days before the artist's death) accepting Deep Winter for publication by AAA. Cole adds, with unintended irony, that if the "dark grey sky . . . could be lightened in any way it might be a better print, but don't mess with it if you do not think it should be done" (Associated American Artists, Ernest Fiene File). Even if Fiene had received the letter before his death, he either didn't act on Cole's advice, or couldn't. In any case, the sky remains ominously dark.

*Title: Another lithograph carries the same title, "Deep Winter [1]," but is otherwise unrelated to this print. The number in square brackets following the title has been assigned, for purposes of clarification, by us not the artist. These numbers are assigned when more than one print bearing the same title exist.

**Edition: In a letter to Fiene in Paris, dated July 30, 1965 (ten days before the artist's death) from Sylvan Cole, Jr., President of Associated American Artists, Cole communicates that he has received samples of Fiene's recent Paris lithographs and chooses to publish the "'Winter Scene' with the dark grey sky" -- the lithograph that came to be titled "Deep Winter." He further requests an edition of 100, numbered 1/100 to 100/100 and suggests that Fiene make an additional ten artist's proofs "for [his] own use." AAA records reflect that it was not until December 16, 1968 that the impressions of "Deep Winter" were finally received by the publisher.(See note below.) AAA records indicate that the shipment consisted of :

"22 Deep Winter Artists Proof[s] Signed by Ernest Fiene, 3 Deep Winter Trial Proof[s] [apparently unsigned], and 91 Deep Winter Signed by Federico Castellon and Adolf Dehn" (Associated American Artists, Ernest Fiene File).

The total of artist's proofs (22), trial proofs (3) and impressions supposedly signed by Castellon and Dehn (91) comes to 116. No corroboration for the 91 impressions signed by Castelllon and Dehn has been reported. In fact, according to Gail Windisch, author of a forthcoming catalogue raisonné of prints published by Associated American Artists, one of the lists of prints published by AAA provided to her by the late Sylvan Cole includes Fiene's Deep Winter. It is described as a color lithograph, 14 x 20-3/4." Furthermore, there is a partially legible notation next to Deep Winter's entry on the list that appears to read "unsigned ed." (unpublished email, Nov., 2005). This "unsigned" edition may refer to the 91 proofs signed posthumously for Fiene by Castellon and Dehn, not regarding them as qualifying as signed. In any case no such signed prints have since been observed or reported. Therefore, the catalogue raisonné currently regards the edition as consisting only of the twenty-two signed artist's proofs. As of this writing, many of these signed Artist's Proof's and one unsigned, unannotated trial proof, have been observed. In fact, every known signed impression of Deep Winter [2] is annotated "Artist's Proof."

The likely explanation for the 3 1/2 year gap between Fiene's death and the delivery of the prints to AAA can be explained by the fact that all eight editions of Fiene's Paris prints were shipped from Paris to, and processed by, the executors of the artist's estate in New York.

***Printer: When Fiene made prints in Paris in 1928-29, his printer was Edmond Desjobert. Although Edmond died in 1963, his workshop continued to operate under the supervision of his son, Jacques Desjobert, and Fiene made eight editions there before he died in Paris on August 10, 1965. The editions Fiene created, one of which was Deep Winter, were shipped back to family and estate representatives in New York. (See above.) (To view all of Fiene's prints made in Paris, click here.)

****Color: More than likely all of the prints Fiene made in Paris in 1965, were four color lithographs. On July 18, of that year, the artist wrote to his brother-in-law Harry Fleischman in New York as follows:

The printing bills are very high and the work much more difficult than I had foreseen. I am doing four color prints [i.e. lithographs incorporating four different colors], that means I draw four stones for each subject. It is done in touche [tusche], like watercolor, much hit or miss and when the etching [He is referring to the etching of the lithographic stone, not to the prints themselves being etchings] is done you never know what comes out. So far I have done two editions, not too bad, and I have three going -- (unpublished letter from the Fiene family files).

Related Works: The painting , Connecticut River Farm, Winter (See below.) incorporates the scene of a pre-revolutionary farm on the border of New Hampshire, of which Fiene wrote, "the muted color tones bring out the winter silence at nightfall." (Fiene, Complete Guide 200).

The color lithograph is essentially the reverse of the painting, probably having been reversed as a result of Fiene drawing the image on the stone with the same orientation as the painting, which would then reverse itself when printed. In most cases in which Fiene made a lithograph after a similar image from a work in another medium, he used one technique or another to make the lithograph print with the same orientation (See Deep Winter [1] 1942) -- but not here.

Connecticut River Farm, Winter, (n.d.k.), oil on canvas

(Photo courtesy estate of Ernest Fiene)

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This page last revised: Monday, December 15, 2008