This striking wood engraving by Olin Dows (1904-1981) titled Market: Riga is one of a series of prints the artist created while traveling in the 1930s (I believe Riga refers to Riga, Latvia, though the concentration of the artist's travels during this time were in Mexico and Central America.) As with many of his works in this series, the figures are anonymous, their faces veiled by scarves, tightly knotted at their necks, suggesting an infinite multitude of women engaged in this never-ending, bobbing and weaving task of marketing! Dows makes brilliant use of line to render volume and pattern (that checkerboard coat at left, and that basket at the center!), with a halo of solid black surrounding these women as if protecting and connecting them. Charming, elegant, masterfully executed...just terrific, I think.
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 1/2" x 9". Image size: 4 1/4" x 6 7/8". Signed Olin Dows, 33. (1933). Very good vintage condition, with tiny pin holes in the top corners, a tiny fold in the bottom left corner, and just a bit of wear to the corners generally.