Irwin D. Hoffman Original Pencil Signed Etching Portrait of a Merchant Marine 1942


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The Unsung Hero is an original etching by well known American artist Irwin Hoffman. This original print was hand signed in pencil by the artist and published in 1942 in a Limited Edition of 250 by Associated American Artists (AAA) of New York.

Title: The Unsung Hero
Artist: Irwin D. Hoffman - (1901-1989) - American artist
Technique: Original Etching with plate tone
Signature: Signed and titled in pencil by the artist; signed, titled, and dated in the plate.
Date Published: 1942
Edition: Limited Edition of 250, Associated American Artists
Dimensions: Sheet size - 9-1/2 x 13 inches, Image size - 5/7/8 x 8-7/8 inches.
Condition: Very Good condition with only some remnants of old hinging tape on the top front and back margins. The print is without age toning, foxing, or creases.
References: No. 511 in the AAA catalog of prints, Irwin Hoffman, An Artist's Life (1982), Boston Public Library.
Works by Hoffman are in the Library of Congress
Printing: A strong impression printed by the artist in black ink on cream wove paper.
Presentation: Unmatted and unframed. Blank on the back, not laid down. Ships is a plastic archival sleeve.
Description: Portraits were a specialty of artist Irwin Hoffman. Wherever he traveled, he produced appealing and thoughtful portraits of everyday people in many geographical areas.

This strong and thoughtful man in civilian clothes is the artist's representation of a Merchant Marine, the unsung heroes, especially in wartime. Though not a government agency or part of the U.S.Military, the merchant marines have served our country bravely during our country's wars.

Their role is to transport goods and people by sea. Prior to and during World War II, merchant marine vessels came under enemy attack and suffered significant losses. The Merchant Marines were considered "The Unsung Heroes” of the war.

Irwin D. Hoffman was born in Boston in 1901, one of four sons of Russian immigrant parents. His artistic talents were recognized early, and by the age of 15, Hoffman enrolled as a special student at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School. After graduating from high school, he became a full-time student there on full scholarship. When he was 19, Boston's Grace Horne Galleries gave the young artist his first solo show where his works were displayed to the public, and the press referred to him as "a prodigy in portraiture."

In 1924, Hoffman received The Paige Traveling Scholarship, the Museum School's most prestigious award. Traveling abroad with fellow award recipients and good friends Aiden Lassell Ripley and Carl Gordon Cutler, he studied and painted across Europe and became grounded in the traditions of the past, but at the same time keenly aware of the modern trend of painting.
After he returned from Europe, Hoffman set up a studio in New York which he maintained until his death in 1989. From his base in New York, Hoffman traveled during the 1930s and 1940s with his brothers who owned a mining company and prospected in the southwestern U.S., Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Many of his paintings and prints reflect these travels. Hoffman connected and became friendly with the local residents of the small villages he visited, as well as the miners who worked for his brothers.

Hoffman was known early as a portrait painter. He later turned to printmaking as well, creating an impressive body of etchings, many of which were published by Associated American Artists. Fourteen of his published plates were included in the company’s first artist monograph, Irwin D. Hoffman.

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