limited edition of 5 prints, taken from the cancelled plate, have been
printed posthumously by David Maes on GUARRO Superalfa 250 g/m² paper, (print
size 47 x 38 cm. - price per print £50).
Provenance: The Artists Family
Literature: Campbell Dodgson, Robert Austin, Twenty-One Gallery, 1930;
Cooke, Drawings and Prints by Robert Austin, London, The Fine Art
Robert Austin's original etching plates were rediscovered in 2007. They
represents all aspects of the artists
oeuvre, from his first engraving (The Bridge, 1913 ) to his his last
(Frost in May 1971). Although, as was common practise amongst print
makers, Austin cancelled his plates after their edition run, the manner
in which he did this is remarkable. Far from defacing the compositions
by scratching lines across the centre, or drilling holes in the plates,
Austin drew precise lines of different proportions, dissecting each
composition, responding individually to each image. As such the
geometry of each composition appears heightened, and the plates take on
a abstract beauty of their own.
It is generally acknowledged that Austin was one of the greatest
exponents of line engraving of the Twentieth century. Campbell Dodgson,
keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, who compiled the
standard reference work on Austins' work, compared his work to that of
Durer noting that Austin had 'more than a touch of that master in him'
(Robert Austin, Twenty-One, 1930 Gallery).
Austin's period of greatest acclaim was during the etching boom of the
1920s (which ended abruptly with the Wall Street Crash).
Later works however, (for instance Girl by a gate,1930 and Empty
Church, Concarneau, 1949,) demonstrate that Austin was still at the
height of his powers long after this period.
Robert Austin (1895-1973)
Printmaker and draughtsman, born in Leicester. He studied at the School of Art there and at the Royal College of Art, 1914-16 and 1919-22, winning the Rome Scholarship for engraving in the latter year. He taught engraving at the Royal College of Art, 1927-44, becoming Professor in the Department of Graphic Design, 1948-55. Showed with RWS, of which he was a member and President; RE, of which he was a member; and the RA, to which he was elected in 1949. Austin was a meticulous craftsman-engraver and a vigorous draughtsman, as his series of drawings of Women's Auxiliary Air Force and ballooning activities done during World War II shows. The Tate Gallery holds his work.
The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, organised an exhibition of his work in 1980.
More recently he was the subject of two shows at the Fine Art Society plc (2001 and 2002), the latter organised in conjunction with Liss Fine Art Ltd.
See all works by Robert Austin