This striking wood engraving by Olin Dows (1904-1981) titled Women Washing (Taxco) is one of a series of prints the artist created while traveling through Mexico and Central America in the 1930s. As with many of his works in this series, the figures are anonymous, their faces veiled (I assume these women are nuns), suggesting multitudes of such women, engaged in similarly laborious tasks, and also imparting a sense of reverence toward them. Through posture (in stark contrast to the lounging men above), interplay of positive and negative/light and dark, line weight and density, and composition as a whole, Dows imparts the women and their work with a quiet dignity, indeed a holiness, while creating a simply stunning, masterfully executed graphic image.
Dows' biography is fascinating, including for the fact that he was close to the Roosevelts, served as a member of the administration during the Great Depression, and became a central figure in several aid-to-artist programs prior to the Federal Arts Project under the WPA created in 1935. Born at Irvington-on-Hudson, NY, he studied at Harvard, MIT, Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Yale Art School, and later at the Art Student League in New York, where classmates included David Smith, Clyfford Still, and Jackson Pollock. His work is featured in collections including Baltimore Museum of Art, Boston Museum of Fine Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, Phillips Collection, and Vassar College Museum. In addition, murals by Dows are permanent fixtures in post offices in Hyde Park and Rhinebeck, N.Y. Read much more about him here.
I purchased this and a second Dows print from the estate of artist Leon Hovsepian (1911-2018) in Worchester, MA. Paper size: 6" x 9". Image size: 4" x 7". Signed Olin Dows, 33. (1933). Excellent vintage condition, with just the tiniest bit of wear to the corners of the paper.