“Frühling” (spring) is  another example of a print by Helene Mass that was later slightly altered (new keyblock) and the monogram also left out in the 2. state version. 

“Findings” like this also underline the necessity of serious research into the making and technique.  Considered by many the Queen of modern  printmaking, a serious biography or “Werkverzeichnis” has never been undertaken. 

See the accompanying book for a first biographical sketch.  

? Elisabeth Balwé-Staimmer  ?

rOne of the rare prints by Helene Mass. Created no doubt in the province above Hamburg, possibly with the other (unique) haystacks print in this collection.  

This copy was found with lower and upper margins trimmed to fit the taste and frame-size of the previous owner(s): make to fit even the the lower margins key-block part was removed as was the signature. Finding such a victim one can: weep, contemplate, accept, embrace or dismiss …….  

My personal criteria or considerations concerning condition, edition numbers and survival rate of art on paper in relations with the destructions in Germany’s past can be read in the accompanying this collection book……. 

After removing the artist’s signature, probably by the framer, a new pencil drawn signature (or the name) of painter Elisabeth Balwé-Staimmer (1896-1973) and the date ’65 was added …. A mix up or mistake and probably the only reason why I was able to acquire it. Had it been offered as an original Helene Mass print the competition would no doubt have been fierce. Too fierce for me. “Knowing thy classics” …… for once payed off.

After restoring the vandalised and amputated parts and with a fresh matt and frame this otherwise almost pristine and rare copy was embraced in this collection. It highly unlikely (…..) a better or affordable copy will show up in my life considering the episode that is left of it.

Comparing with the original 1917 catalogued example it appears the artist at some point decided to make a new background: the line of trees, the sky and birds, the mill (replacing the tower !) and a second layer of depth by adding far away hills (right horizon). The monogram, part of the first key-block was left out in this 2. State print. See also the other Haystack print in this collection (the only copy known). 

From other examples we know she not always used the printed monogram. Perhaps she kept it exclusively for 1. state prints ? She signed inside the printed area, but in other occasions also in the margin.  

And what about to think about a possible connection or  relationship with Hamburg printmaker Else Zinkeisen’s version of a very similar landcape. The same location - village ?

We know after all she visited Hamburg and created a very rare city view. I am convinced the two artists have met and even may have travelled and sketched together.