2017 David Blackwood Guide

2017 David Blackwood Guide

By Mark Skeffington

Some 2 ½ years ago, FineArtCollector published a story called A Guide to David Blackwood’s Best Prints.

Since then, several thousand people have read the blog post.

Now is a good time to update this guide.

Our first guide shone the spotlight on six David Blackwood prints, selected from more than 150 etchings based on factors such as beauty, majesty, desirability, scarcity and reputation.

That list looked like this:

  1. Fire Down on the Labrador(1980, etching and aquatint, 30 X 20 inches, Edition of 50).
  2. The Great Peace of Brian and Martin Winsor(1982, etching and aquatint, 32 X 30 inches, Edition of 50).
  3. Hauling Job Sturge’s House (1979, etching and aquatint, 12.5 X 31 inches, Edition 50)
  4. Loss of Flora S. Nickerson(1993, etching and aquatint, 32 X 20 inches, Edition of 75), Wreck of the Nickerson (1993, etching and aquatint, 32 X 20 inches, Edition of 50)
  5. Fire in Indian Bay(1979, etching and aquatint, 20 X 31 inches, Edition of 50)

Not surprisingly, today’s list doesn’t look much different.

No. 1 remains Fire Down on the Labrador

Fire Down on the Labrador is still considered his masterpiece and it has become the Holy Grail for collectors of David Blackwood etchings. Many art collectors would love to have this print, though most would begrudgingly admit their chance of succeeding is slim.

The last copy that came on the Canadian art market, in 2017, sold for about $48,000 (bid price, plus buyer’s premium). This was less than the record price of $65,000 (bid price, plus buyer’s premium) in February 2016. These two sales illustrate that the Canadian art market sees swings in prices.

No. 2 remains The Great Peace of Brian and Martin Winsor

This stunning whale etching (pictured above) is underrated. Like many of David Blackwood’s works, a photo of this etching doesn’t do it justice; The Great Peace is far more impressive when viewed up close, in person.

It is almost as rare as Fire Down the Labrador but has commanded a much lower price. Several copies of The Great Peace have sold around the $15,000 mark in the last couple of years, making it a relative bargain and undervalued compared to Fire Down.

No. 3 remains Hauling Job Sturge’s House

The etching isn’t as well-known as it deserves to be, and it hasn’t received the attention of David Blackwood’s whale works. But collectors do recognize its majestic quality and its scarcity. Only two or three have come on the Canadian art market this decade, with FineArtCollector handling one of those sales.

Hauling Job Sturge’s House has sold for around the $10,000 mark, but there are signs this print could sell for much higher.

No. 4 likely remains a choice between the Loss of Flora S. Nickerson and Wreck of the Nickerson.

No. 4 tie: Loss of Flora S. Nickerson & Wreck of the Nickerson

These two etchings are of the same size (32 X 20 inches) and are like mirror images of each other: depicting a mother whale and calf swimming underwater, just below men in a dory, rowing away from the sinking Nickerson, which is shown in the distance.

These whale works have been selling for between $12,000 and $15,000 recently, though one sold for about $20,000 a decade ago.

No. 5 is Captain Jesse Winsor Home from the Icefields

This etching is a triptych that spans about 63 inches across its three panels. Captain Jesse Winsor doesn’t get the accolades of other David Blackwood etchings, but is well regarded by collectors for its attention to detail. The scene itself – men firing guns in the air to mark Captain Jesse Winsor’s safe return – is striking. And the etching looks even more striking in person.

Captain Jesse Winsor has likely been undervalued, especially when considering its large size and majesty, having sold in the $7,000 to $10,000 range at auction.

Other highly notable etchings include:

For Ismael Tiller: The Ledgy Rocks (1990). This whale work doesn’t quite have the presence of other whale works, perhaps because there are no people in it.

The Burning of the Methodist Church (1977). On the surface this piece may not have the presence of other David Blackwood etchings, but upon close examination you can’t but be impressed by the detail, especially with distinct features of the men watching the fire or those rescuing church pews.

The Burgeo Whale: A Whale for the Killing (1972). This smaller (20 X 16 inch) work puts the focus clearly on the whale, who is depicted in vibrant blues.

Wesleyville: Cyril’s Kite over Blackwood’s Hill (1996). This is one of several etchings depicting kites flying over a town, but this one stands out for its impressive aerial perspective, amazing details and brightly coloured kite ribbons.

– FinertCollector.ca
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