Monday, April 4, 2011

New York Etching Club: Henry Farrer

Although the first meeting of the New York Etching Club in 1877 was in the studio of J. D. Smillie, the meetings soon moved their regular venue to the studio of Henry Farrer, one of the club's co-founders and most active members. Etchings were printed on a press built by Farrer himself. Of all the Etching Club artists, I think Farrer is my favourite. Unlike R. Swain Gifford, the subject of my last post, Farrer did not favour a less-is-more economy of line. Instead his moody landscapes and seascapes are intensely worked, deeply bitten, and often almost impenetrably dark with cross-hatched lines.

Henry Farrer, On New York Bay
Etching, 1879

Henry Farrer, Marine
Etching, 1880

Henry Farrer was born in London in 1843. He emigrated to the USA in 1863 at the age of twenty. Farrer was very much a driving force in the American etching revival. Most of his etchings are seascapes or landscapes, though the first, made in 1868, were views of New York buildings.

Henry Farrer, The Lighthouse
Etching, 1881

Henry Farrer, Sunset, Gowanus Bay
Etching, 1880

Most of Henry Farrer's seascapes are views of New York Harbor, a subject he rendered with great vigour and great sensitivity.

Henry Farrer, Sunset, New York Harbor
Etching, 1879

Henry Farrer, Twilight
Etching, 1880

Farrer loved the mysterious time of twilight, when the world hovers between daylight and darkness, and returned to sunset scenes time and again.

Henry Farrer, Woods in Winter
Etching, 1880

Henry Farrer, December
Etching, 1879

Wintry scenes were another staple of Henry Farrer's art. Something in him responded to the dying months of the year just as it did to the last rays of the setting sun.

Henry Farrer, The Last Walk in Autumn
Etching, 1881

Henry Farrer's older brother, Thomas Charles Farrer, was also an artist, who studied under John Ruskin and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. In America, Thomas founded the idealistic, Pre-Raphaelite, Society for the Advancement of Art and Truth, of which Henry became a member. However, Henry Farrer soon went beyond his brother's Pre-Raphaelite influence, adopting a tonalist approach in his watercolours and etchings. As well as the New York Etching Club, Henry Farrer also co-founded the American Watercolor Society. Henry Farrer died in 1903.

8 comments:

derschwarzetod said...

Beautiful! Thank you very much!

Neil said...

Thanks.

Jane Librizzi said...

Another family of artists of Scottish origin was the Smillie family. Your J.D. was probably James D. Smillie, painter and one-time President of the Etchers' Club. His younger brother George H. Smillie was a Tonalist painter, who married a painter Nellie Sheldon Jacobs. New Englanders, all of them.

Neil said...

Jane - We're certainly talking about the same Smillie - James David Smillie (1833-1909). George Henry Smillie was his brother. Their father James Smillie was an engraver, so the two boys grew up with the idea of art and printmaking. I've got a number of etchings by J. D. Smillie - 7 or so - so I guess I'll post about him at some point in the future.

Kenny said...

I just came into possession of what appears to be an original print of the Farrer etching Winter. It is signed by the artist.

Would you happen to know where I can find it's value and possibly where I would take it to sell it.

Thanks, Kenny

Kenny said...

I meant to say I have "December"

Kenny

Neil said...

Hi Kenny - It's not going to be worth a great deal - maybe $300-400 in good condition. You could try your luck at auction, or on eBay, or take it in to a local gallery that deals in prints.

Kenny said...

Thanks for your insight. It is in perfect condition so I will check it out.

enny