Mounted (ref: 5687)
The original etching plate, cancelled
together with a posthumously printed line engraving
127 x 95 mm
The Jewel is not recorded in the Campbell Dodgson's A Catalogue of Etchings and Engravings by Robert Austin, R.E 1913-1929 and therefore might never have been editioned. 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 his period of greatest acclaim.
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