Timothy Cole is another master wood engraver whose technical proficiency amazes me. He spent his entire career in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s interpreting the work of master painters like Constable and Hogarth. I happen to have in my possession his engraving of Mona Lisa, signed by him in pencil. It’s printed on a delicate kind of Japanese tissue and seems very fragile but the impression is perfect and allows for first hand scrutiny on how he made his cuts. Check out the detail on Mona Lisa’s face by clicking on the image to enlarge. And here’s a snippet of a letter he wrote to someone saying that he is trying his second attempt at engraving this image and will do a third if it doesn’t turn out.
What kept his talent in demand by magazine publishers of the day was the fact that photo reproduction technology hadn’t been tuned up enough at that time. When it finally got sorted out, Cole and other engravers like him were out of a job because they were in essence mechanical reproduction artists interpreting the paintings and illustrations of other artists with shades of gray and texture on the engraving block for use in publications.
The actual print is 6.25 inches (16 cm) wide and 9.125 (23 cm) high. Timothy Cole certainly stands out as a master engraver with a gift for interpreting the work of master painters within the humble context of wood engraving.
I read somewhere that he was also an avid nudist. Hope he wasn’t running around the colony with sharpened gravers pointing in the wrong direction.