Los Angeles

Gamble Etching Collection

University of Southern California

Approximately 40 choice works in the Univerity’s permanent collection, with many fine etchings by the American, James A. Whistler, including his character depictions, La Vielle aux Loques, and The Pool

Copperplate etching, which reached its peak of popularity during the 18th century, suffered the same fate as other graphic media until the comparatively recent resurgence of interest by contemporary artists in introducing fresh concepts into a field that over the years had been increasingly relegated to the commercial artisan.

Artists’ explorations during the past several decades have been predicated on rejecting the “purist” approach of limiting the plate to a single operation, by working in a combination of all gravure or incised metal-plate techniques and their variants. Thus, to those who are familiar with only contemporary graphics, this collection, at first glance, may be dismissed as unexciting and academic. However, this exhibition of technically pure etching points up the fact that in creative hands, even though bound to certain academic standards, great artists were able to produce superlative proofs in spite of style limitations.

A remarkable Millet etching, Man With a Wheelbarrow, the superb portrait by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst of Malvina, Anders Zorn’s studies of a young girl and an old man, and the etchings of World War I Doughboys by Eby Kerr, which show an increasing freedom of technique, are all superlative examples of 18th and 19th century craftsmanship.

Betje Howell