Joseph Pennell. “Sogno Mio, No. II.” [North Highland Street, Merion, PA]
1920. Etching. 10 x 11 7/8. Signed in pencil. Framed. Private edition. Rare. Wuerth 761.
John F Braun (1867-1939) commissioned Joseph Pennell etch a private edition print of his house in Merion, Pennsylvania. The house, “Sogno Mio” (My Dream) was designed by Day and Klauder Architects and is Italian Renaissance in style. It was designed purposely to display his large collection of American painting which was one of the largest at the time. The house still stands and is located on North Highland Street in Merion, Pennsylvania. Braun was a very successful businessman, art connoisseur and musical devotee. Pennell etched two prints of the building and this print is a view of the back of the house from the gardens.
Joseph Pennell (1860-1926) was an etcher, lithographer, illustrator and author. He is one of the best known and respected of American artists from the etching revival period. Born in Philadelphia, Pennell trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and at the Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art, and later he taught at the National Academy and the Art Students League in New York City. From 1883 on Pennell spent most of his time in Europe, until 1917 when he moved back permanently to the United States. Over his distinguished and prolific career, he won many medals and awards, and is considered one of the great etching innovators of the time. Amongst his other achievements, Pennell illustrated and authored many books, contributed to leading magazines and was one of the founders of the Philadelphia Society of Etchers. Pennell’s major influence was James McNeill Whistler, whose biography he co-authored with his wife, and much of his style and etching technique reflects Whistler’s. Pennell printed his own lithographs and etchings, and he continuously experimented with techniques and materials.