Calendar graphics tend to be highly charged impressions, designed to add a dash of fun or awe to mundane meanderings—pin-ups and land/or cityscapes seem to lead the charge. We have a calendar, for 1930, of fine offset renditions of linoleum block prints by Ernest W. Watson (1884-1969) that tends toward landscape but with a charming and thrilling difference. Titled, “A Calendar of Color Symphonies,” by the venerable board game producer, Milton Bradley Company, of Springfield, Massachusetts, the point was very much about lingering over the masterful color nuances of Watson’s designs, by virtue of the company’s first-rate lithography resources. The first illustration, for September/October, brings to us golden tones of autumn playing from the sky to the bridge and then to the land.
As a board game manufacturer, the sponsor of this distribution of the print- maker’s skill would be drawn to the more dramatic areas of Watson’s inspiration. Here the adventure of sea travel, and here again the “symphony” of gold.
“The Explorers” to kick off the year (January/February) musters a great focal point for thrills and danger. It could almost be the name of a game! (The Civil War also seems to be a factor here—exciting to Watson and Bradley alike.)
“Quiet Anchorage” (for the spring months, March and April). The control of shadow and aura could be evoking here delight in the prospect of warm weather voyages.
Watson was a devotee of European arts culture, and Venice would be of special interest to him. A display of Italian earth-tone harmonies, that also conveys the unusual and the suspenseful.
For the dark times of November and December, a study of lamplight upon a stable. The figures in silhouette are masterfully rendered in this context to carry the viewer to strange and compelling territory. (A board game production taking us to excitements far from those of board games!)
The calendar’s cover is a feature that emphasizes what we have had dawning upon us from the first—this is a suite of a very accomplished (technically and reflectively) print output, a treasure wrapped in a modest format. Here again the play of twilight, those poignant silhouettes and a touching affection for the thrum of nature and history.
Very frameable as a collection of superb printmaking, on deluxe paper.