Man with a Cross, 1924
Mounted (ref: 5679)
The original etching plate, cancelled
together with a posthumously printed etching from the plate
133 x 128 cm
Tags: Robert Austin plate religion RELIGION
Man with a Cross. 1924. Dodgson 46.iv. was issued in an edition of 40. 5 3/16 x 5
As Rome Scholar in Engraving, (1922) Austin produced some of the most enduring images of Italian peasants, sharing with D.H. Lawrence an admiration for a culture ‘so primitive, so pagan, so strangely heathen, and half-savage’ (D. H. Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia, f1921).
Man with a Cross is described in Modern Masters of Etching as follows:
Yet beyond the technique, there i spiritual expression. But in pure, full-toned etching he began to interpret compassionately the gaunt, primitive peasant, who returns from his labours to the solace of the Cross, austere plates these, Man and Crucificion and Man and Cross, but beautifully expressive in their essentai simplicity of design" (Salaman Modern Masters of Etching: Robert Austin, p. 5).
This image brings to mind D.H Lawrence's 'Twilight in Italy', (1919), which opens with a chapter entitled 'The Crucuifx across the Mountains' :The imperial processions, blessed by the Pope and accompanied by the great bishiops, must have planted the holy idol like a new plant among the mountains, there where it multiplied and grew according to the soil ....
But gradually, one after another looming shadoily under their hoods, the crucifxes seem to create a new atmosphere over the whole of the countryside, a darkness, a weight in the air that is so unnaturally bright and rare with the ref.... Then every now and again recurs the crucifix, at the turning of an open, grassy road, holding a shadow and a mystery under its pointed hood.