Veneration of the Ancestors


Veneration of the Ancestors is a mixed technique, color intaglio from 1955 by American printmaker, Dick Swift (1918-2010). The plate was created with softground, aquatint, etching, and scraping, and the color was applied à la poupée or by hand painting. It is pencil signed, titled, and editioned 23/25. This intaglio was printed by the artist (inscribed Imp after the signature) on cream wove paper and the image measures 17-7/8 x 22 inches platemark.

Ancestor veneration is a custom of many religions and cultures around the world. Giving reverence to ancestors was practiced by the followers of Confucianism, Shintoism, and Hinduism, and can be witnessed in the early art of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Indonesia and numerous other civilizations. Modern families exercise ancestor veneration by keeping mementos, photographs, and reminders of their deceased relatives. One of the most famous and celebrated ancestral worship rituals is the Día de Los Muertos ceremony that takes place in Mexico and in Mexican and Hispanic societies outside of Mexico.

Dick Swift (born Richard H. Swift, Jr.), printmaker, educator, and illustrator, was born in Long Beach, California on January 29, 1918. His studies began in 1938 at the Chouinard Art Institute where he was enrolled for three years. In 1943, Swift moved to New York to study for a year at the Art Students’ League where his principal teachers were Reginald Marsh, Will Barnet, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, and Morris Kantor. In 1946, he studied under Rico Lebrun at the Jepson Art Institute in Los Angeles. Swift returned to his art training in 1954, studying for two years at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles where his influential teachers were Ernest Freed and Guy Maccoy. He continued his studies at the Pasadena City College before entering Los Angeles State College where he earned his B.A. degree in 1957. Swift studied under Paul Darrow and Roger Kunz at Claremont Graduate University in Los Angeles and earned his M.F.A. in 1958. He also studied printmaking with Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17 in Paris between 1964 and 1965.

Swift began his teaching career in 1946 at Occidental College. He joined the faculty at the California State University at Long Beach in 1958 and developed the highly regarded printmaking program and studios. He was a member of the American Color Print Society and the Los Angeles Print Society, and served as its president in 1968 and 1969. He exhibited extensively throughout the United States, Japan, and Europe receiving more than forty awards.

Dick Swift’s work is represented in the collections of Baylor University, San Jose State University, and Wichita State University, as well as the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the British Museum, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the California State University at Long Beach, the Canton Art Institute, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Zanesville Art Institute.

Inquiry or Purchase