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The Last Days of Fall: An Autumn Woodcut by Gustave Baumann


Colored woodcut (woodblock print), “Road of the Morning” by Gustave Baumann, signed, titled and numbered (97/100), American, c. 1915. An early work, possibly of the Hoosier Period. Height: 12″; Width: 10 1/2″Leah Gordon Gallery

If you’re in New York City today, the fall of stray snowflakes has already signaled to you that autumn is all but over. By this time next week, Thanksgiving will be a pleasant memory, and the winter holiday season will be in full swing. We’ve already started curating The MAAC Holiday Collection for the early shoppers, but in this post, we take the opportunity to bid farewell to fall with Gustav Baumann‘s woodcut “Road of the Morning.”

Gustave Baumann, c. 1921

Gustave Baumann, c. 1921, American painter and printmaker, 20th century. Source:

Printmaker, Gustav Baumann (1881-1971) is a key figure of the American color woodcut revival of the 20th century. Born in Germany, Baumann emigrated to the United States at age 10. After a period of artist training in Chicago and Germany, Baumann settled for life in Sante Fe, New Mexico, a place that inspired many of his iconic landscape woodcuts. Although “Road of the Morning” predates his southwestern period, it’s suffused with the same sad, serene beauty that came to define much of his work. In this early work, the waving grass-lined autumn road winding into the distance is suggestive of all the melancholy might-have-beens that define the season. See a later Baumann work below.

Colored woodcut of "Taos Placita" #47/125 by Gustave Baumann, American, circa 1930s.

Colored woodcut of "Taos Placita" #47/125 by Gustave Baumann, American, circa 1930s. Leah Gordon Gallery

Unlike many American artists who favored the Japanese style of hand-rubbed woodcut prints, Baumman used the traditional European method of “color relief printing using oil-based inks and printing his blocks on a large press.” As those familiar with woodblock printing know, color printing requires multiple blocks, one for each color, carefully laid out. The painterly color woodcuts Baumman produced are masterpieces of the art, brimming with an unusual degree of emotionality. On the bottom right of the print above, you can see the telling artist seal Baumann created for himself; an open-palmed hand over a heart. See more woodblocks by Gustav Baumann.

The Manhattan Art & Antiques Center’s predominant collection of Baumann prints can be found at Gallery #18, the Leah Gordon Gallery. You can reach Leah Gordon at 212.872.1422 or, or visit in person at Gallery #18, The Manhattan Art & Antiques Center, 1050 Second Avenue at 56th Street, New York, NY 10022.

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