In March 1979 Chess Life and Review did a lovely presentation of the chess art of E. B. Rothwell.  The magazine was all B&W, so the images published there lacked color.

The name Rothwell didn't ring a bell but upon looking it up I did find a few works with which I'm familiar.

The art site also claims, "Rothwell was first known for her series of etchings using chess imagery and hidden chess positions."


"While many of Elaine's prints were playful and contained hidden images she also dealt with serious themes and a variety of subjects, reflecting her wide-ranging mind and powerful intellect. By means of visual puns, figure-ground ambiguities, and enigmatic images she would seek to baffle the viewers' eyes with visual games, presenting the cerebral pleasure of seeing two things simultaneously, or seeing familiar images in new ways. "

Elaine B. Rothwall was born in 1926 (and passed away in 2011). 

Rothewell took up painting after she returned to college at age 35 to study Fine Arts.  Dabbling in several styles,  she ultimately focused on "on what my children called 'puzzle posters,' with hidden images or visual illusions, puns and satires."  The etchings (her medium of choice) are mainly gestalt figure-ground groupings - depending upon how one looks at them, the perception changes.  

Mrs. Rothwell explained that her son taught her chess in 1972 and while attending the Paul Masson American Class Championship in 1973 (won by Kim Commons), she was inspired to create chess-themed works.

She further associated her work to chess in the process itself - which I find rather intriguing.

"The process of etching is also a game of strategy. The artist must predict the reactions of many opponents -- the zinc plate, the nitric acid, the ink, the damp paper, and the pressure of the press -- working always in a mirror iage reversal. Every move risks a blunder. In etching I had found the appropriate medium for the chess series."

"I use chess as my subject because it symbolizes the power of the human mind over chance, the pleasure of the brain can find in its own ability. "

"If my work has any other purpose, it is to celebrate he fact that the human brain still works."

[some of the pictures can be viewed slightly larger by clicking on the image]

"Drawn Game"

photo of a full color original