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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Winter on the River
(Kenahawha
[sic] River, Winter)*
Catalogue Entry # 77
(Click here for explanation of catalogue entry #s and titles.)


Click the image for enlargement.

Date: 1936, 1938*

Medium: Lithograph

Edition: Not more than 200 (published by American Artists Group)**

Dimensions: 9 3/16 x 14 in.

Printer: George Miller**

Typical pencil annotations on impressions from the edition: none***

Public collections holding this print: ACM, BMA, CMA, PENMA PhMA, PRF, SFFAM, SUAC, Yale

Topic galleries for this print:
1. Marine/River/Harbor/ Scenes
2. Winter Scenes

Notes

*Title and Date: In 1938, Fiene gave the title "Kanahawha [sic] River, Winter" to an undetermined number of impressions of this lithograph. (The correct spelling for the river Fiene was referring to is "Kanawha", a tributary of the Ohio in West Virginia.) Currently, only one proof (unnumbered, titled, signed and dated) has been observed. Apparently Fiene chose not to identify the exact setting of the AAG edition impressions giving them the generic title, "Winter on the River." The name of the river appears as the title only on the impressions signed later, in 1938.

**AAG Editions: Winter on the River (above) is Fiene's only AAG print. "The American Artists Group (AAG), under the direction of [Carl] Zigrosser, who was then working at New York's famed Weyhe Gallery, published ninety-three prints by over fifty artists in 1936 and 1937. Zigrosser's goal was to popularize contemporary American art through original prints offered at the low price of $2.75 a piece. The project was also a means to provide income for impoverished artists during the Depression. In publishing the AAG prints, Zigrosser used the best printers available: George Miller for the lithographs, Charles White for the etchings, and the Spiral Press for the woodcuts. The prints were featured in many of the leading print exhibitions and publications of the period.

"Through the mass distribution of these prints, the AAG intended to counter the prevailing trend of artificially increasing print prices through limited editions and individually inscribed prints. [AAG editions were unsigned and uninscribed.] Their concept backfired, however, when collectors found identical prints that artists had made earlier in small, signed editions. [For example, there are at least two impressions of "Winter on the River" signed by Fiene, and at least one impression of the same print signed and retilted "Kenahawha River, Winter."] Collectors who had bought the earlier prints felt the value of their signed prints was undermined, and owners of the unsigned AAG version preferred to own impressions bearing the artist's signature. Although the projected edition size for each AAG image was 200, it is likely that only about 100 of each were printed." (Amon Carter Museum)

American Artist Group (AAG) impressions carry the AAG stamp on the reverse along with the artist's name, title of the print and the date. (There are apparently exceptions. For example, the BMA impression of Winter on the River bears no stamp though it is accompanied by the AAG label.)

Other Stamps: The BMA impression bears, on the reverse, the collector's stamp "BA" for "Blanche Adler."

Related works: Fiene made a series of paintings, drawings and lithographs which are based on his travels through Pennsylvania and West Virginia during the winter of 1935-36. The industrial areas of Pennsylvania and West Virginia are represented in numerous oils, among which are some of his most well known. One of the paintings bears the title "Along the Kanawha." (1936, oil, 26 x 36 in., as does a drawing). The only other known lithograph from this journey is Mine Superintendent Fiene wrote of the trip, "The increasing snow and atmoshpheric conditions [in the Kanawha River valley} enhanced this mountainous coal mining country with a majestic beauty." (Pittsburgh Commission).

Miscellany: On Jan. 15, 1937, the woodcut artist J. J. Lankes wrote to Fiene asking, "Would you care to swap a copy of your 'Winter on the River' for one of my 'Sunday Afternoon'? The American Artists Group sent me today 15 impressions of the 'Sunday Afternoon' which is certainly 15 too many. I have long been an admirer of your work . . . ." (Fiene, Papers, unpublished letter, Reel 1)

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This page last revised: Monday, December 15, 2008