Saturday, 13 August 2011

Mr & Mrs Austen-Brown Printmakers

Those of you who are both woodblock print fans and eBayers, may have noticed that seller art****636 has listed several unsigned prints by Thomas Austen-Brown. This reminded me of a stunning print I sold some time ago by his wife Mrs Elizabeth Christie Austen-Brown and now having seen her husbands work - what a team !

I have always liked this picture and regret ever selling it, you can't keep them all. It had so much light and atmosphere, especially for a scene that is probably in late evening light ! I also regret not buying another print by her, some years after this purchase. I had one of those days - you know when you see something you like, vaguely recall the name, but can't quite remember, only to remember a few days later and you guessed right - it had sold !!

So who were they ?

The woodblock print above is signed E C A Brown and mark "imp" to indicate that was printed by the artist. Mrs Elizabeth Christie Austen-Brown (1869-1942) is listed as a painter and linocut artist who exhibited from 1903 until 1931 who was married to the artist Thomas Austen Brown. She exhibited widely including at; Goupil Gallery 1 work, International Society 1, Walker Gallery 11, Nottingham Art Gallery 11, Royal Society of British Artists 23, Redfern Gallery 3, Ridley Art Club 1, Royal Institute of Oil Painters1 and Royal Scottish Academy 2 works. She was a full member of the Royal Society of British Artists from 1926.

There are works by her in several public collections, including; The British Council (and Thomas). Her work also appeared in The Studio magazine with a wood engraving titled "The Shepard and his Flock" used to illustrated a 1910 article written by William Lee Hankey called "The Society of Gravure Printers in Colour". She also ran The Colour Wood-cut Society c1925 with a contact address of 16 Fulham Road, London.

Thomas Austen Brown (1857-1924) seems to be more documented. We know he was born in Edinburgh and studied at Royal Scottish Academy schools and travelled extensively including Trepied and Etaples, France. Again like his wife there is an extensive history of exhibited work including at; Agnew's 1, Royal Society of Artists 8, Fine Art Society 42, Grosvenor Gallery 11, Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts 34, Goupil Gallery 4, International Society 11, Walker Gallery 46, Leicester Gallery 56, Manchester City Art Gallery 17, Nottingham Gallery 19, Royal Society of Portrait Painters 5, Royal Academy 31, Royal Hiberian Academy 1, Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 13, Royal Institute of Oil Painters 9 and Royal Scottish Academy 99. That is a lot of pictures, so I assume that he was successful. He also exhibited abroad winning prizes and class medals at print exhibitions in Munich, Dresden, Barcelona and Budapest from 1896-1911.

He seems to have worked in oil, watercolour, etching and woodblock. His subjects include landscapes and portraits. Although most of his larger scale oils were "genre" subjects. The rural idyll much loved in the late Victorian era. Lots of farmers and milk maids with cows, beautiful but sadly now fallen out of favour. A multi talented artist.

His wood block prints are excellent, great composition, good colour, full of light and space. See for more pictures and the ones below are the unsigned proofs being sold on ebay.

I have assumed these two were married to each other, I seem to recall that after I sold her print that I was contacted by a collector who confirmed my original assumption.

NOTE - Soon after completing this posting, I realised I had been beaten to it !! See for his view on the subject.

Internet references;
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