Don Freeman (1908 – 1978)
Painter, printmaker, illustrator and author Don Freeman was born in San Diego, California. He studied at the Art Students League in New York with John Sloan, and is perhaps best remembered as the author and illustrator of numerous children's books – many of them strongly influenced by his wife Lydia. Never without a sketchbook, Freeman produced a large body of drawings and lithographs, strongly influenced by his admiration for Daumier, depicting the life of New York City in general, and the rich and colorful world of Broadway in particular. This body o work presents a compelling picture of New York City from street people to noted actors and politicians - and nearly everyone in between. In 1976, Freeman was recognized by the City of New York for his inimitable portrayals of its vibrant life during the mid-Twentieth Century. The Freemans eventually left New York and settled in Santa Barbara, California where they lived for the rest of their lives.
Lithograph, 1931; edition of about three proofs. Image size 7½” x 10½”; sheet size 9¾” x 12”. A bold, well-inked impression in overall very good condition, with ink smudges in the margins. Titled and signed in pencil by the artist in the lower margin. McCulloch 30.
This charming image, typical of Freeman’s treatment of theatrical subjects, was an experiment by the artist in the use of razor or knife blades on the stone to enhance the tonal values of the image.
Casting for Character
Lithograph, 1934; edition of 184. Image size 12” x 9-7/8”; sheet size 16” x 14-3/8”. Published by Associated American Artists, New York. Titled and signed in pencil by the artist in the lower margin. A wonderful snapshot of 1930s Broadway behind the scenes by this avid chronicler of Depression-era New York. Fine. McCulloch 87.
Hand-colored lithograph, 1931; edition of 15 or fewer. Image size 5½” x 9¼”; sheet size 7¼” x 11½”' - dimensions are irregular but appear to be original. Signed in the image signed and dated in pencil in the lower margin. McCulloch 16. A fine impressiion in very good overall condition.
Snow Shovelers on 14th Street
Hand colored lithograph, ca. 1936; edition size not known, but probably fewer than five proofs. Image size 9” x 11¼”; sheet size 9” x 12¼”. Very good overall condition; There is a 5/8” unobtrusive closed tear on the upper edge of the sheet extending into the image. Not in the McCulloch catalog raisonné (see below).
There is a distinct similarity between this print and the piece titled "Snow Shovelers on 14th Street" (McCulloch 110), published in an edition of ten in 1936. My guess is that Freeman took a shine to the pair of men with snow shovels slung over their soldiers, and decided to draw them separately without the distraction of the other people included in the original street scene. The result is an intimate snapshot of two chums enjoying each other's company as they walk the street in search of a chance to make enough for a cafeteria meal and a hot cup of coffee.
Freeman managed to project a jaunty dignity in his portrayals of ordinary people living through hard times. His work is entirely free of the slightest trace of condescension or pity, betraying the artist's admiration and respect for his subjects.
Lithograph, 1934; edition of 50. Image size 8¼” x 7¼”; sheet size 15” x 11¼” Published by The Public Works Art Project, Civil Works Administration. Fine impression in overall very good condition, with faint toning in the sight area and adhesive residue on the top edge of the sheet, well away from the image area. McCulloch 85.
Lithograph, 1941; edition of 250. Image size 10-5/8” x 9¼”; sheet size 16-1/8” x 12-5/8”. Published by Associated American Artists, New York. Signed in the stone and in pencil by the artist in the lower margin. Fine.