Here is a very pleasing little wood block print by South African Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef (1886-1957). He is apparently generally known as a landscape painter and was the leader of a distinctive South African style of painting in the early 20th century, but I really love his use of black and white in this first piece particularly. I love how the rough, wide strokes of carving perfectly depict the fall of shadows, and how the highlights on the tree trunks define their whole shape. I love how the architecture and the light evoke the location so efficiently and so effectively. It’s really very small - only about 5x3 inches - and not very detailed, as tiny wood engravings are, yet it’s got everything it needs.
I’m not so much in love with this second piece, but I still think it’s really interesting how Pierneef has made almost the entire picture out of horizontal lines. Tree trunks, leaves, shade, ground, all are simply different variations of roughly horizontal lines and the gaps between those lines. I’d love to find some more of Pierneef’s wood block prints.
[Pictures: The Wine Cellar, Hertestraat, Stellenbosch, wood block print by Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef, c. early 20th century;
Cape Willows, wood block print by Pierneef, c. early 20th century (Images from Bonhams).]