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You are hereHarvey-LeeHomeHarvey-LeeCatalogues - Main Introduction Harvey-LeeThe Seductive Art


The Seductive Art, Elizabeth Harvey-Lee

The British Passion for Etching 1850-1950

A visual summary of a century of British etching through the Etching Revival and Boom years.

Produced in the form of a stock catalogue, with entries for 350 artists, organised by ‘school’ and association, in chronological sequences.

A Preface (reproduced below) is followed by 25 ‘chapters’, each generally with a short introductory essay. The titles of these ‘chapters’ are listed below under the heading Contents.


Forerunners & immediate Precursors: The Etching Club
The Founding Fathers – Whistler, Haden and their Circle
Foundation and early years of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers (R E)
Early Members of the R E  1880-1900 – Minor Etchers
Early Members of the R E  1880-1900 – Pioneers of the Modern British etching Tradition
Non-Members of the R E 1880-1900
Slade students under Legros 1876-1892
Royal College of Art students under Short 1891-1924
Slade students 1892 to the Great War
The Sickert Circle – Pupils of Sickert
Bolt Court students 1910-1915
Independent etchers 1900-1920
The Naturalists – Etchers of Birds 1900-1930
Birmingham Friends
The 1920’s. The height of the Etching Boom
Slade students 1920-1930
Independent etchers 1920’s-1930’s
Royal College of Art students under Osborne & Austin 1924 -1940
Goldsmiths’ College Group
Rome Scholars
Painters who take up etching in the Boom years of the 1920’s
Wood Engravers who also engraved on Copper in the Boom years
Minor etchers of the Boom years 1920’s-1930’s
The Last Generation. New etchers & engravers 1930-1950
Scottish Etchers 1890’s-1930’s
Colour Etching 1890’s-1940’s
End Word


The Society of Graphic Art
The Society of Graver Printers in Colour
Index of Etchers


Surprisingly, as early as 1710 in Susannah Centlivre’s play 'The Man is Bewitched', Lovely’s invitation to Maria to withdraw together to another room, is cloaked in the propriety of viewing a collection of prints in a connotation that anticipates the more recent ‘line’ “Come up and see my etchings ”.

However, this memorable if somewhat dubious expression was born of the very genuine passion for etching prevalent at the end of the 19th century and in the early decades of the 20th. Hugh Walpole in his novel 'Portrait of a Man with red Hair' captures this intense period enthusiasm in the following exchange.

Have you ever felt the collector’s passion yourself ?

I have always loved prints very dearly, etchings especially … Etchings are intimate and individual as is no other form of graphic art. They are so personal that every separate impression has a fresh character. They are so lovely in soul that they never age nor have their moods …

Frank Short, a seminal figure in the British Etching Revival and Boom, expressed the pleasure of sharing prized etchings with friends in a booklet for the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers in 1911. Short’s description of a palpable sensual delight in physically handling etchings as well as an emotional and intellectual response to the images finds a visual equivalent Frank Hill’s drypoint  "The Etching Connoisseur" (catalogue item 606, see below).

Frank Hill’s drypoint "The Etching Connoisseur"

The especial delight in prints…that the collector knows – comes of that intimate intercourse with the pet proof… (with) prints of your very own that you take out of their solander case or portfolio; prints you hold tenderly in your hand, turn into various lights, and lift from the mount to enjoy the very feel of the paper: proofs that you have learned line by line, and yet in which you are always finding new meaning.

Short wrote both as a collector and as an artist practitioner of etching. His sensuous delight in etching was shared by other artists. Samuel Palmer acknowledged his pleasure in the medium.

O! the joy – the colours and brushes pitched out of the window; plates…got out of the dear little etching cupboard…needles sharpened three-corner-wise like bayonets.

The artist Hubert von Herkomer was even more explicit …

twenty times and more did I give up etching and twenty times and more did I take it up again. I have burned holes with acid in my clothes, and holes in my skin; I have spoiled carpets and had inflamed throats from pouring over the fumes; I have sat up half the night with a plate that would not come out right, and had finally abandoned; I have  taken plates to my bedroom and worked at them half undressed, then gone to bed and had frightful dreams about them. I have neglected all duties in the dog-days of my etching career, have made my family miserable and ill by filling the whole house with bad fumes; and yet I live to say that I love etching with all my heart and soul.

Whistler’s initiation into etching, described by a fellow young draughtsman at the U S Coast & Geodetic Survey conveys the etcher’s excitement in the practical technicalities.

Mr McCoy, one of the best engravers in the office, went over the whole process with us – how to prepare the copper plate, how to put on the ground, and how to smoke dark, so that the lines made by a point could be plainly seen. For the first time since his entry into the office, Whistler was intensely interested… Having been provided with a copper plate…and an etching point (needle), he started…his first experiment as an etcher… After he had finished etching, I watched him put the wax preparation around the plate, making a sort of reservoir to hold the acid as McCoy had instructed, Then he poured the acid on the plate, and together we watched it bite and bubble about the line…

A sensuous interpretation equally pervaded etching scholarship. Martin Hardie, Keeper of Prints at the Victoria & Albert Museum, compiler of the catalogues of several etchers’ work and a keen amateur etcher himself, in his inaugural lecture to the newly founded Print Collectors’ Club in 1921, contrasted the characteristics of the two greatest formative influences on British etching in the boom years of the 1920’s, Rembrandt and Whistler, in the following analogy.

I regard them as the Jupiter and Venus, largest and brightest among the planets in the etcher’s heaven – Rembrandt the Jupiter, because he is the more forceful and masculine, with a brain powerful and masterful, penetrating in its perception of character, wide and deep in its emotions; Whistler the Venus, because, with all his mastery of the medium, his significance of expression, he has, in a marked degree, the predominant feminine qualities of intuition, quick insight, delicacy, refinement, daintiness – shall we say, too, of charming unexpectedness and caprice?


In 1862, when the Etching Revival was scarcely under way, the French poet and art critic, Charles Baudelaire, commented on the British craze for etching. Professional artists had founded The Etching Club in 1838 and amateurs such as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert indulged an interest. But it was from the 1880’s that British artists’ and collectors’ involvement with etching really escalated. P G Hamerton published books and periodicals devoted to etching; Francis Seymour Haden founded the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and established annual exhibitions of members’ etchings. Etching was introduced into the curriculum of the recently established London art schools, the Royal College of Art and the Slade.

The popularity of etching in Britain reached its zenith in the second half of the 1920’s , when literally hundreds of artists engaged in it. An ancillary 'Print Collectors’ Club' had been set up by the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers; periodicals such as Print Collector’s Quarterly kept contemporary etching in the public’s awareness with illustrated articles and catalogues raisonnés of etchers’ work to date. From 1923, for over a decade, Malcolm Salaman published the annual 'Fine Prints of the Year', which illustrated fifty new British etchings each year. The booming market encouraged established painters and sculptors not trained as etchers to take up the technique.

In the case of the leading etchers of the day, such as D Y Cameron, Muirhead Bone, James McBey or Arthur Briscoe, demand outstripped supply. Editions were fully subscribed to in advance, so that on publication impressions could be re-sold immediately at auction for several times the original subscription price. By the end of the decade this intrusion of adverse speculative interest in the print market inevitably brought about its crash (not helped by the parallel crash on Wall Street). Many artists stopped etching when the market disappeared but the continuing allure of etching as a creative technique still held some artists in sway through the 1930’s till a more final hiatus caused by the Second World War. Indeed Gerald Lesley Brockhurst’s masterpieces, "Adolescence" and "Dorette", among the most outstanding images of the modern British etching tradition, were etched in the early 1930's after the crash.


The century 1850 – 1950 represents a golden era in British etching. An instantly recognizable ethos pervades the works but each artist’s contributions to the canon carry an autographic individuality like a personal handwriting. Exponents of an essentially monochrome art, with the emphasis on the expressive qualities of line and tone, the etchers of the period had superb drawing skills. Their etchings reward literal close study; magnification reveals an abstract microcosm of lines, flicks, crosshatchings that to the distance of the naked eye resolve into the familiar town scene, landscape, marine, animal, bird or figure study or portrait. Never before or since have so many artists in a single country at a single period practised the art of etching. Equally remarkable is the number of women among their number. Item 149 in the catalogue (see below), a self-portrait at the press by Constance Pott (assistant to Frank Short in the engraving school at the Royal College of Art) gives a fascinating view of a woman examining a proof as it come off the press amid all the paraphernalia of the etching studio.  

Constance Pott (1862–1957): "Self-Portrait". Etching, c1900       


Etching evinces a flowing graphic line set off by telling blank intervals but equally has the potential through a network of crosshatched lines to create a rich, painterly chiaroscuro of tone. Commensurately it can be a spontaneous gesture in which the subject is drawn from nature directly onto the plate, or a highly finished transcription of a previously worked out composition. The diversity of approach in Rembrandt’s plates as his style evolved over the years provided examples of both alternative approaches. While the etchers of the 1920’s Boom years availed themselves freely of both conventions, the pioneers of the etching Revival, Whistler and Haden, advocated linear immediacy, which they considered ‘true’ etching as opposed to the ‘false’ etching of the highly finished tonal plate worked over its entire surface. Haden also worked in pure drypoint, Rembrandt again supplying the model. Drypoint was much favoured by succeeding generations of British etchers. Aquatint, unknown to Rembrandt and only invented towards the close of the 18th century, was rarely used, despite earlier strong English associations. Although Rembrandt was the single greatest stylistic influence on modern British etching, it was contemporary French etching which instigated the new direction British etching took in the 1850’s. Whistler and Haden had close contacts with Parisian etching circles and were instrumental in the moving to London of Legros permanently and Tissot for a decade, as well as the visits of the French printer Auguste Delâtre. The etchings of Millet and Meryon would influence later generations of British etchers.

The Seductive Art, Elizabeth Harvey-LeeHOW THIS CATALOGUE IS ORGANISED

The arrangement of the catalogue is roughly chronological, both overall and within the subsections; the chronology based on the period when an artist took up etching rather than the specific dates of the individual items included. This system is necessarily subject to anomalies being determined by examples available in my stock. Many etchers worked through several decades and may be represented here by an etching carried out twenty or thirty years after they first started etching.

Where it seemed appropriate, groupings of artists have been determined by the institution at which they trained, or according to ethos or friendship, or even lack of affiliation. As by coincidence several of the leading etchers were Scots by birth or association, they have been removed from the general chronological sequence and included together in a separate section at the end of the catalogue.

Published 2001 to celebrate the new millennium
384 pages. Entries for 350 artists, organized by ‘school’ and association in chronological sequences. 783 items described. 830 illustrations in black and white.

(UK Price: £30, International orders: £35)

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FURTHER INFORMATION on an entry in The Seductive Art

Confusingly there are two artists called Eric Newton, near contemporaries, and in The Seductive Art catalogue I have compounded them.

The two prints illustrated in the catalogue are by Ernest Eric Newton, but the biographical information given in the catalogue is for another Eric Newton. For further information please visit the dedicated website for Ernest Eric Newton.


Artists included in the catalogue:

  • Airey A
  • Abbé S van
  • Affleck A F
  • Aiken J Macdonald
  • Aldin C
  • Allan A Weir
  • Alma-Tadema L
  • Amschewitz J H
  • Anderson S
  • Andrews S
  • Ansell W H
  • Appleby W C
  • Archer F J
  • Armstrong E A
  • Aspden R
  • Auerbach A
  • Austen W
  • Austin F
  • Austin R S
  • Badmin S
  • Baird J
  • Ball R
  • Ball W W
  • Banting J
  • Barcaly J R
  • Baskett C H
  • Beaumont L
  • Belcher G F A
  • Bell L
  • Bentley A
  • Bevan R
  • Birch J Lamorna
  • Blackburn C E
  • Blampied E
  • Bly G Huardel
  • Bolingbroke M
  • Bone M
  • Boreel W
  • Bradfield N
  • Brammer L
  • Brangwyn F
  • Brangwyn L
  • Brewer J A
  • Brightwell L R
  • Briscoe A
  • Brockhurst G L
  • Brown H J S
  • Buckland-Wright J
  • Buckton E
  • Burridge F V
  • Bush R
  • Butcher E
  • Cadzow J
  • Cain c W
  • Cameron D Y
  • Cameron K
  • Carline S W
  • Carter F
  • Charlton E W
  • Chattock R S
  • Chrystal A
  • Clark C H
  • Clausen G
  • Clayton K M
  • Clilverd G B
  • Cogle G H
  • Cole E A
  • Collins G E
  • Conway L R
  • Cope C W
  • Copley J
  • Cowern R T
  • Crawford S F
  • Crawshaw L T
  • Creswick T
  • Cristall W
  • Dane P
  • Daniel H W
  • Daum J
  • Davis P W
  • Dawson N
  • Delleany G
  • Dent R S G
  • Detmold C M
  • Detmold E J
  • Dey M C
  • Dicksee H
  • Dixon F C
  • Dobson M
  • Dodd F
  • Dowd J H
  • Drummond M
  • Drury P
  • Eadie I G M
  • Earthrowl E G
  • East A
  • Elphinstone W G
  • Emanuel F L
  • Evershed A
  • Exley J R G
  • Fairclough W
  • Farrell F A
  • Fisher A H
  • Fitton H
  • Fleming I
  • Fletcher H
  • Flint W Russell
  • Freeth A H
  • Frued L
  • Fullwood J
  • Gabain E
  • Ganz H F W
  • Gaskell G P
  • George E
  • Gethin P F
  • Gibbs E
  • Giles W
  • Gill E
  • Gillett E F
  • Godden C E V
  • Goff R
  • Gooden S
  • Gosse S
  • Gowland J R
  • Grant J A
  • Gray J
  • Geaves W
  • Green Reg
  • Green Roland
  • Griggs F L
  • Grom E H
  • Gross A
  • Gwynne-Jones A
  • Haagensen F H
  • Haden F S
  • Hall C
  • Hall E Clarke
  • Hall O
  • Hamilton R
  • Hampshire E L
  • Hamson T D
  • Hardie M
  • Hartley A
  • Hartrick A S
  • Harvey H J
  • Hay J Hamilton
  • Hayes G E
  • Heriot R
  • Herkomer H von
  • Heseltine J P
  • Hill A
  • Hill F
  • Hillier H
  • Hirst N
  • Hislop H
  • Holden H
  • Holloway E
  • Holmes K
  • Holroyd C
  • Hook J C
  • Houston R
  • Howard G
  • Howarth A E
  • Hoyton E Bouverie
  • Hubbard E H
  • Hudson E E
  • Huggins W
  • Hunt W Holman
  • Hunter C
  • Initials E S
  • Jacomb-Hood G P
  • Janes N
  • John A E
  • Jones D
  • Jones F C
  • Jones R Ray
  • Jones S R F
  • Jossett L L L
  • Keene C S
  • Kemp-Welch M
  • Kirkpatrick J Kirsop J H
  • Knight J
  • Knight L
  • Knighton Hammond A
  • Lack M
  • Lacey E H
  • Lancaster P
  • Langmaid R
  • Larkins W
  • Laurensen E L
  • Lee S
  • Lee-Hankey W
  • Legros A
  • Lines V H
  • Litten S
  • Livens H M
  • Livett U
  • Lock A
  • Lord E A
  • Lumsden E S
  • Macbeth R W
  • Macbeth-Raeburn H
  • Macleod W D
  • Mackenzie J Hamilton
  • Mackenzie T
  • MacKinnon S
  • Macnab I
  • Manning W W
  • Manson J B
  • Marples G
  • Marriott F
  • Marston F
  • Martson R St Clair
  • Martyn E K
  • Mason F H
  • Matheisen J G
  • Mathiesen J M
  • Mathews M
  • Maxwell D
  • Maxwell T
  • May W H
  • Maybery E J
  • Mc Bey J
  • McGhie J
  • Menpes M
  • Menzies-Jones L F
  • Middleton J
  • Millais J E
  • Mole F
  • Monk W
  • Moody J C
  • Moore H
  • Morgan C E w
  • Morley H
  • Morshead A
  • Mura F
  • Murray C
  • Murray C O
  • Murray-Smith D
  • Narbeth W A
  • Neatby E M
  • Nevinson C R W
  • Newbolt F G
  • Newton E E (see footnote)
  • Nicolson J
  • Nichols C M
  • Nixon J
  • Orovida
  • Orphoot B N H
  • Osborne M
  • Paige E W
  • Palmer S
  • Paton H
  • Patrick J McIntosh
  • Patterson G M
  • Pattison E L
  • Pennell J
  • Peter R C
  • Phillip A
  • Phillips L B
  • Pimlott P E
  • Piper J
  • Pissarro O
  • Pittar J F Barry
  • Platt J
  • Porter H
  • Pott C M
  • Power C
  • Raine-Barker A
  • Rayner H
  • Reeve R S
  • Renison W
  • Rhead G W
  • Richards F
  • Ridley M W
  • Robertson D
  • Robertson P
  • Robins W Palmer
  • Robinson J Ronbinson M C
  • Rothenstein W
  • Roussel T C
  • Rowels S C
  • Rushbury H
  • Russell G
  • Sayer H
  • Schwabe R
  • Scott W Sharland E W
  • Sharpley R Shepperson C A
  • Short F
  • Sickert W R
  • Simpson J
  • Simpson A Sims C
  • Sloane M
  • Slocombe C P
  • Slocombe F
  • Smart D I
  • Smee S
  • Smith G G
  • Smith P J D
  • Smith P W
  • Smith R H Soper E
  • Soper G
  • Souter J B
  • Southall J E
  • Sparks N
  • Spence R
  • Spencelayh C
  • Spencer C H
  • Spencer N W
  • Squirrel L R
  • Stacey D M
  • Steel K
  • Stokes G V
  • Stone H M
  • Storey H
  • Story E S
  • Strang D
  • Strang I
  • Strang W
  • Sullivan E J
  • Sutherland G
  • Swain N 9E)
  • Synge E M
  • Talmage A
  • Tanner R
  • Taylor C W
  • Talylor E
  • Taylor L
  • Taylor N (W H)
  • Temple V L
  • Thompson E Heber
  • Thomson L
  • Thornton H
  • Tissot J J J
  • Tod M M
  • Todd A R Middleton
  • Toovey R
  • Townsend H J
  • Tremel M
  • Tunnicligffe C F
  • Turnbull a Watson
  • Turel A J
  • Tushingham S
  • Underwood L
  • Unwin S
  • Urwick W H
  • Verpilleux E A
  • Vosper S C
  • Waite A E
  • Walcot W
  • Walker A
  • Walker B E
  • Walker W
  • Wallace R
  • Ward A
  • Ward L M
  • Warlow H G
  • Washington W
  • Waterson D
  • Watson C J
  • Webb C
  • Webb H G
  • Webb J
  • Wedgwood G
  • Wheatley J
  • Whirter L
  • Whistler J McN
  • White E
  • Whitehead T
  • Whiting E
  • Whydale e H
  • Wiffen A ak
  • Wilkinson H
  • Wilson E
  • Wilson S R
  • Wilson W
  • Wolseley G R
  • Woollard D E G
  • Wyllie W L

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