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You are hereHarvey-LeeHomeHarvey-LeeWeb ExhibitionsHarvey-LeeCharles Holroyd, Borrowdale Yews

Charles Holroyd R.E.
Potternewton, Leeds 1861 – 1917 Weybridge

Borrowdale Yews

Charles Holroyd, Borrowdale Yews. Original etching, 1903.

Borrowdale Yews
Dodgson 166 (Holroyd 171)
227 x 355 mm
Original etching, 1903.
Signed in pencil and entitled Wordsworth Yews. The fraternal Four and annotated 1st state.
Printed in brown-black ink on cream laid paper watermarked O.W.P&A.C.L.
A couple of vertical fold lines, mainly visible on the reverse.

Charles Holroyd, Borrowdale Yews. Original etching, 1903.

Also another impression, printed with less ink, and with the sky and four trees hand-coloured by the artist. (Dodgson specifically mentions owning an etching hand-coloured by Holroyd – an unusual practice at that time - a practice which he occasionally adopted with happy results, of tinting some proofs of his etchings with watercolour … [to] charming effect.)
On cream laid paper, foxed, mainly in the margins.
A tiny failed printing defect.

For both impressions: £350

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Additional Information about the Print

Exhibited at the R.E. 1903

Etched one hundred years after Wordsworth had visited the Seathwaite grove and was inspired to write his poem Yew-Trees, in which he describes the Borrowdale Yews as the “fraternal Four” (though later one was uprooted in a storm). The trees appear to be separate, but all come from one tree – and that apparently is a female tree, so now a sororal three. They are at least 1500 years old. His poem made the yews famous.

There is a yew-tree, pride of Lorton Vale,
Which to this day stands single ….
This solitary tree ! – a living thing
Produced too slowly ever to decay:
Of form and aspect too magnificent
To be destroyed. But worthier still of note
Are those fraternal Four of Borrowdale,
Joined in one solemn and capacious grove;
Huge trunks ! - and each particular trunk a growth
Of intertwisted fibres serpentine
Up-coiling and inveterately convolved -
Nor uninformed with Fantasy, and looks
That threaten the profane; a pillared shade,
Upon whose grassless floor of red-brown hue,
By sheddings from the pining umbrage tinged
Perennially – beneath whose sable roof
Of boughs, as if for festal purposes decked
With un-rejoicing berries – ghostly Shapes
May meet at noontide: … there to celebrate
As in a natural temple scattered o’er
With altars undisturbed of mossy stone,
United worship; or in mute repose
To lie, and listen to the mountain flood
Murmuring from Glaramara’s inmost caves.


Provenance: by descent from the artist to his widow Lady Holroyd; to their son Michael; to Michael’s godson.