The Embrace (from the "Hosannah Suite") by Harold Persico Paris

The Embrace (from the Hosannah Suite) by Harold Persico Paris

The Embrace (from the "Hosannah Suite")

Harold Persico Paris

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The Embrace (from the "Hosannah Suite")

1953 -56 
aquatint and etching 
Image Size
17 7/8 x 23 5/8" platemark 
pencil, lower right 
Edition Size
14 of 50  
titled and editioned in pencil 
Artist's Proof 3 (Vol. 1, #1, 1961, page 14) 
cream wove, western paper 
Inventory ID
A powerful, Surrealistic image rendered in intensely textured black and white by California-based printmaker and sculptor Harold Persico Paris. The viewer may want to apply Symbolist themes to this composition, but Paris does not easily allow for interpretation. The image is as simple as its execution is complex: two figures, bare and skeletal, embrace as if for the last time; sharp lines like rays of light envelope the figure below, suggesting death or some other form of transformation. Paris often visited the themes of grief and death, having been exposed to some of history’s darkest moments as a liberation soldier at Buchenwald in World War II. Here, under the suite’s title “Hosannah,” meaning to save; to rescue, it could be interpreted as a reaction to that time in his life. However, there is no direct suggestion of this; the mystery, and the intrigue, is invited by the artist in silence.

In 1952, Harold Paris began the preliminary drawings for what would eventually become a suite of prints entitled Hosannah. The project was originally titled "Eternal Judgment", and Paris was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for it in 1953. It wasn't until 1958 that the first version of the suite was completed in Nancy, France and exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Paris made a total of five suites, completing the final version, known as the Portland Suite, in 1971. This version is unique in that it contains nine accompanying drawings. Paris said of these, "... some of the nine drawings are preparatory sketches for etchings and lithographs while others remain related ideas and drawings only." This unique version resides at the Portland Art Museum, Oregon Art Institute, Portland, Oregon.

Paris noted about the symbolic images in the portfolio: "'Hosannah' is a reflection of the Mystic Forces that move us and have moved me in my Life. I believe in the Images that are presented here. Their reality and humaness are an integral part of all the World as I know it." The images in the portfolio brings to mind the works of Bruegel, Goya, Redon, and Rouault.

The 'Hosannah Suite' is epical or legendary in its design, and Portland Art Museum curator Gordon Gilkey wrote: "Paris has identified four guiding themes for its creation: "Angelic War, Trial of Man, Fall and Submergence, and Hosannah. The word Hosannah is defined as a word of praise or adoration, especially in Judaic and Christian use. This should not confuse the reader into thinking that Hosannah is a religious work. It is spiritual and secular, and the ideas and emotions that are expressed by the images are both universal and very personal, relating feelings of anxiety, despair, anguish, and misery."

The first copy of Hosannah consists of thirty-one prints, three of them being colored. The techniques the artist used are varied; metal intaglios, lithographs, and acrylic engravings, and the sizes of the images are generally large. Individual prints from the suites have found themselves dispersed to different collections including the Library of Congress, and the National Gallery of Art, among others.

Please call us at 707-546-7352 or email to purchase this item.