Woodcut print | 9 x 12 inches
Of course, I couldn't resist, as technically these are the work of an African American artist, and I'm always on the lookout for affordable works, but the fakery element just makes them all the more interesting, no? Even without this fascinating story, these are highly skilled works.
Earl Marshawn Washington (born 1962) is an entrepreneur, printmaker, and engraver. Beginning in 1998, woodcut prints from Washington began appearing; Washington claiming variously that the woodcuts were originals by famous artists; that they had been made by his great-grandfather, “Earl Mack Washington” who lived from 1862 until 1952; or that this alleged great-grandfather had rescued the associated blocks from a fire-bombed Manhattan print shop in the 1880s.
E.M. Washington is African American, which led to increased interest in his great-grandfather's work. It was estimated by September 2004 that as many as 60,000 prints had been sold, at prices ranging from $20 to a $350. (Washington himself has since admitted to “creating over 1700 wood engravings”.) By 2004, Washington admitted to creating some of the images, but insisted that he had not invented Earl Mack Washington.
Some of Washington's more recent offerings declare Earl M. Washington gained worldwide recognition as a wood engraver by faking his death and creating over 1700 wood engravings and offering them to the art buying public at extremely affordable prices. Virtually all of the images appear to be copies of the work of other artists, available from books or other reprints, traced onto blocks. Some images have no significant modifications; in other cases the modifications result in absurdities, such as incongruous reflections and German words turned into nonsense.
As recently as 2018, prints were being offered for sale accompanied by this statement:
This is the 20th anniversary of the very first controversial sale of an E.M. WASHINGTON (Earl Mack Washington) (1862-1952) artifact of an original Thomas Bewick printing woodblock and matching print were sold in 1996 at the Pacific Book Auction (PBA) literary sale in San Francisco, California which realized, if I remember correctly $385. My name is Earl M. Washington (Earl Marshawn Washington, b.1962 and I am the great-grand-son of the now infamous E.M. Washington (1862-1952) and responsible for the initial release and marketing 20 years ago of the woodcut prints and wood blocks from this massive xylographic achive that has been in my family since the early 20th century (around 1929), that I inherited with other members of my family about 35 years ago.
When the E.M. Washington woodcut prints were introduced to the global marketplace in 1998, the internet in general was very young and eBay was only two or three years old at the time, but like today, all that it took for the prints to be scandalized and devalued was a few "skeptics" with access to a global forum, and the E.M. WASHINGTON scandal; smear campaign and "lynching" was on! I have been mostly silent for 20 years (save a few angry internet outbursts) as to the truths, misconceptions and myriad misinformation concerning not only the E.M. Washington Archive, but the "thousands" of very, very old printing blocks that I inherited along with the more than 40,000 original woodcut prints and proofs most of which I sold long ago. I would now like to correct some falsehoods that have over time become "facts" about the woodcut prints here on eBay by posting different E.M. WASHINGTON facts to be included in each listing of original woodcuts that I am offering, and save the very interesting and important discussion about the "ancient" woodblocks for another forum, all of which will be the eventual contents of a 400+ page comprehensive coffee table book titled "E.M. WASHINGTON-The Truth, The Whole Truth" to be published and released in 2020.
The plot thickens! I can't wait to watch this unfold.