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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The Wreck [1]*
Catalogue Entry # 96
(Click for explanation of titles and Catalogue Entry #s) (a)


Click the image for enlargement.

Date: 1965

Medium: Lithograph printed in colors****

Edition: 20**

Dimensions: 11 x 15 3/4 in.

Printer: Atelier Desjobert, Paris***

Typical pencil annotations on impressions from the edition: Just below the image: numbered and titled (l.l.); signed and dated (l.r.)

Public collections holding this print: Currently Unknown (CU)

Topic galleries for this print:
1. Color Works
2. Marine/River/Harbor/ Scenes
3. Prints with a French Connection

Notes

*Title: Because two prints in the catalogue bear the title "The Wreck," we have designated them "The Wreck [1]" and "The Wreck [2]," where the numbers in square brackets have been assigned, for purposes of clarification, by us not the artist.

**Edition: Fiene created a separate edition of The Wreck [1], The Wreck [2], printed in alternate colors.

Note: In earlier stages of his printmaking career, Fiene created small editions of first state prints (e.g. Brooklyn Bridge) that this catalogue raisonné does not recognize separately by giving them entry numbers of their own. However, the catalogue raisonné does give separate entry numbers to the independently editioned color variations created in Paris in 1965, because no record exists of the artist designating these color variant editions as differing "states" of the same work.

**Impressions outside the edition: 5 trial proofs and 5 artist proofs, annotated as such, l.l. One of the trial proofs is inscribed, "Bon à Tirer 25 E. Prendre le Jaune de l'Epreuve Verte." (Good to pull 25 proofs [the ediditon of 20 plus 5 artist proofs] Take the yellow from the green proof.") This note appears in the margin, u.l. and is most likely in the printer's hand.

Paper: All impressions from the edition are on wove paper with "BFK Rives" watermark.

***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 were shipped back to family and estate representatives in New York. To view these Paris editions, 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).

Paper: The edition and signed proofs are printed on wove paper with the BFK RIVES watermark, as are observed unsigned proofs.

Setting and Related Works: While on Monhegan Island, Maine in the late Forties, Fiene made, along with other drawings of the beachfront, some sketches of the wreck of a small fishing boat. Although he was not enthusiastic about the subject of the wreck at the time, he reconsidered after returning to his Connecticut studio. He realized that the sketches and drawings he made in Maine contained various elements that could be composed in a manner that was worthy of a painting. The first result was the painting "The Wreck at Turbot's Creek," a more or less realistic rendering of the original scene. Eventually seven variations on the theme of The Wreck emerged.

The color lithograph in both of its color variations resembles most closely Variation # 2 (Variations on a Theme: The Wreck, Number 2, oil on canvas, 34 x 44in.1948, collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art).

Fiene writes of variation number 2: "In this second variation, I further explored the design quality of the wreck. Viewed in a more two-dimensional manner, the painting de-emphasizes the element of depth." He goes on to note his interest in the resemblance of the wreck to a fish skeleton ,suggesting a link between the man made and natural detritus of the sea. The colors in the painting, what he describes as "salmon pink" for the sand, "chartreuse yellow" for the boards and "gray and black" for the cross sections of the boat structures are very close to the colors of this version of the lithograph. The colors in the watercolor are more closely related to the other variation of the lithograph. (Fiene, Complete Guide, 114-127.)

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This page last revised: Monday, December 15, 2008