Bertha Jaques made etchings on a secondhand press after teaching herself the process from instruction manuals. Her enthusiasm led to the formation of the Chicago Society of Etchers in 1911. As the Society’s secretary, Jaques managed an active group of international printmakers. She was also known for her unwavering dedication to emerging artists. She graciously offered her press to colleagues and instructed beginners in the art of printing. The society’s 1939 presentation print, Jimson Weed, attests to her expertise. This bold composition is typical of her late botanical studies inspired by Japanese prints. Here, deep drypoint scratches aptly describe the plant’s poisonous barbs. This equivalency of texture would have been apparent as the plate was inked and wiped for printing.
Haskell’s relationship with Bertha Jaques and the Chicago Society of Etchers encapsulates the etching societies’ capacity to foster intellectual exchange, and challenges the assumption that the era’s female printmakers owed their successes to influential men. Jaques lent her expertise, resources, and support to Haskell during a banner year. In January 1916 she allowed him to use her press to prepare the prints for a solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. Jaques delighted in sharing equipment with like-minded artists and was probably a positive, knowledgeable presence in the studio.
KG, How He Was to His Talents exhibition, March 24, 2011-August 7, 2011
botany; gardens; nature; vegetation
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