As summertime turns to autumn in the northern hemisphere on this day, a sunset theme seemed fitting. So far, 53 prints in the collection have been catalogued as depicting scenes of sundown but this charming woodcut won the day. It was made around 1920 by Elsie Garrett Rice (1869 – 1959) and shows three paper lanterns hooked onto the branches of a tree, reflecting the warm gloaming on the water.
Born in Elton, Derbyshire, Rice was orphaned at a young age and raised with her twin brother and two other siblings by her cousin, Dame Millicent Fawcett, the legendary campaigner for women’s suffrage. Elsie was also recorded as being a great believer in equality. She worked as an art teacher in London for several decades, and exhibited with a handful of printmaking societies. It was only in her mid 60s however that she received a large commission shortly after emigrating to South Africa.
Her talent was spotted by staff at the famed Botanical Gardens in Kirstenbosch, Cape Town. They commissioned her to provide the drawings for her first publication, Wild Flowers in the Cape of Good Hope. It took 15 years to complete, but when she was 81, it finally emerged and remains a celebrated work in its field.