Praying appeared as a motif in several of Austin's wartime prints - for instance Evening, 1940. The woman nearest the viewer is Eleanor Hudson, (Austin's student and mistress) a watercolourist, etcher and designer best known for her depictions of women at work during the Second World.
The Second World War virtually brought his printmaking to an end. Austin would take many months to complete a plate and the unsettling effect of the war forced not compromise but a halt to that activity. Besides, his teaching commitments with the RCA meant that he spent a lot of time travelling between London and the Lake District where the college had been evacuated. He made a few plates in the late 40's and early 50's but the wizening of his thumb prevented him from handling the burin effectively from 1951 onwards. Peter Black, Robert Douwma Catalogue Twenty Nine, p 5
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).
Copies of this engraving are in the collection of the British Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum.
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