Passe-partout (ref: 3982)
Signed in the plate
The original etching plate, cancelled
8 7/8 x 6 3/4 in. (22.5 x 17.2 cm)
Tags: Robert Austin religion war women RELIGION World War II Paintings by British Artists
Provenance: Provenance: the artist’s family
Literature: Campbell Dodgson, Robert Austin, exh. cat.,Twenty-One Gallery, London, 1930; Gordon Cooke, Drawings and Prints by Robert Austin, exh. cat.,The Fine Art Society, London, 2001
Evening , a composition created during the early years of the war, is one of Austin's most accomplished engravings. The model praying was 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. One of Austin's signature prints Evening might be seen as a pendant to the same sized image Girl on a Stairs which Austin produced in the early years of WW2. Both compositions, which evolve around solitary figures in at the bottom and top of a stair case, enveloped by shadows and silence, convey a sense of mystery. The setting ofEvening was The Chapel at Burham Overy Staithe, (Norfolk) where Austin had his studio when not working in London.
photograph of Eleanor Hudson, circa 1940.
The stairs are those of the Methodist Chapel in Burnham Overy Staithe, Austin's home in Norfolk. Praying appeared as a motif in several of Austin's wartime prints - for instance Easter Sunday, 1940.
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.
When he retired from the RCA professorship in 1955 Austin no longer had access to a press and he stopped making prints until 1963 when three magnificent but very late etching were made.
Peter Black, Robert Douwma Catalogue Twenty Nine, p 5