End of Sugaring, Etching on paper, 1939
This work was completed in 1939 by American artist Walter Ronald Locke (1883-1949). As with each and every one of his works, Locke’s abilities as an etcher are well conveyed through this piece. The scene depicts a rural landscape in late winter or early spring in which a cabin is nestled amidst a grove of large maple trees. As the title suggests, the annual “sugaring season” (for maple syrup) has recently come to end, which is indicated by the forgotten barrels at the bases of the two trees nearest the viewer. Maples, like all deciduous trees in the northern United States, do not begin budding until anywhere from mid-April to early May, depending on latitude. However, this scene likely represents a location in the northeastern portion of the country, which would indicate a time frame of roughly mid-March. The specifics of the locale are unknown, but the piece could portray the state of Vermont, which contains abundant rolling hills similar to those found in the background of this engraving.
Walter Ronald Locke was best known for his intricate landscapes. The Florida tropics were a favorite setting of his, and he commonly depicted them in his etchings. However, his complete body of work represents a wide variety of other natural climates and vegetation found throughout the United States.