"Peonies" (also called "Japanese Peonies" or "Peony") is a drypoint from 1926 by American artist Bertha Evelyn Jaques (1863-1941). It is pencil signed, titled and annotated "4th proof 2nd State." The platemark measures 9-15/16 x 7-7/8". It was printed by the artist in an unstated edition on thin vellum paper measuring 12-7/8 x 10-1/2". The reference is Czestochowski 357 and an impression was included in the 1928 Chicago Society of Etchers exhibition. This proof is from the second state and the final state had drypoint added to the background to print black.
Bertha Jaques, poet, printmaker, and promoter, was born Bertha Evelyn Clausen in Covington, Ohio on October 24, 1863. She was primarily self-taught as an artist and began experimenting with etching after viewing an exhibit of Whistler's etchings at the Columbian World's Fair in 1893. She convinced the director of the Art Institute of Chicago, William M. R. French, that the technique of etching could be used creatively and, with the assistance of others, persuaded him to install an etching press in the basement of the institute.
In 1909, she shared her ideas for the basis of a "needle" club with Ralph M. Pearson, Earl H. Reed, and Otto J. Schneider and the following year the Chicago Society of Etchers was launched with an exhibition held in April in the basement of the Art Institute of Chicago. Jaques was tireless in her promotion of the art of etching and helped organize the society's yearly exhibitions until she retired in 1931. She instructed other artists how to make etchings and, on occasion, she printed their plates.
Jaques' work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Museum at Newfields, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, the Mead Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Portland Art Museum, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.