In all of the years that we’ve admired the book illustrations of outdoor and natural history artist Henry B. Kane, we had never seen a stand-alone piece of his artwork on the market until recently finding this woodcut (now sold).
It is a portrait of a mouse (likely a white-footed mouse, Peromyscus leucopus), rendered in a small scale befitting its subject (frame size: 8.5” wide x 9” high; woodcut size: 4” square). The crisp black and white contrasts that comprise the image of the mouse nestled on a small branch of a red pine in its woodsy home habitat, are the distinctive attributes of woodcuts. The artist was able to achieve great clarity of detail by carving a block of wood so that when inked and pressed onto paper the portions of the woodblock that were raised in relief join with those that were gouged away to create a stunning black-and-white image.
This woodcut is one of a limited edition, number 16 of 100, and is signed by the artist in pencil in the lower right.
The artwork was matted and framed in Boston, not far Lincoln, Massachusetts where Kane lived for many years with his wife, two daughters, and a son.
While Kane’s personal and professional lives were rooted in the Boston area, his artistic abilities and book projects allowed him to travel in his mind’s eye, by immersing himself in the variety of habitats and settings that his collaborating authors explored. He was a rare individual who was equally drawn to and adept at science and art, as well as skilled in administration. What else do we know about this accomplished man?