Fine Art/Mystery prints
Even with my art/design background these are still a true mystery to me. I "rescued" them 3 yrs ago from a large dumpster outside a lower midtown building in NYC that was being gutted. They were in a fairly old ribbon tied portfolio. There are 32 prints in total, 26 are b&w (actually black on white paper that has now aged to a cream yellow). 4 are black with an added single color (2 red, 1 greenish brown and 1 turquoise) The final 2 are black with 2 colors (both have red and golden brown as the additional color) The pages are not numbered and blank on the back. The fragile paper appears cut from larger sheets, as they are all various sizes from approx 8"x11" to 9"x11". The images are all 6-3/8"x 8-3/4" portrait layout. There is no plate mark from a press that I can detect. There is a watermark on some pages "VAN GELDER ZONEN" it has a "bamboo laid" look. I find no signature. The look like Aubrey Beardsley or possibly Erte inspired designs, or at least influenced by the Art Nouveau or early Deco period. I just vannot connect them to anyone. The subjects are varied, but I identify 2 Salome subjects, a Crucifiction, lots of unhappy couples, forlorn women, some demons or tormented souls and other fantastic human creatures... all together an unhappy melodramatic crew. A repeated theme in several is the arrow, some in flight, some in quivers, some on the ground, and one in the neck of a rather surprised sailor. I have a scanner and can email images if you are interested in tracking the identity of these prints.
I hope all is well with you and thank you for your question. I would be happy to take a look at them and see if I can help. They sound like illustration drawings for a book or theater play. As you are probably aware, Beardsley did the illustrations for Oscar Wilde's play; Salome. Possibly some disregarded early sketches of Beardsley’s? The presence of archery in images is often related to a "holy war" or representative of virtue over evil. The key is to identify the story, (most likely by your descriptions it is biblical related) that the images represent, and then track back to artists who were known to do illustrations or paintings of that story. Unfortunately, there were many artists who illustrated bible stories.
Please email the images to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Scan as many as you can that represent the various scenes. You can send them as attachments in multiple emails if necessary. I look forward to seeing the images. By the way, were you able to see a dot matrix under magnification? Do they look like they could be original drawings?