During his lifetime Alfred East enjoyed considerable success and established an enviable reputation as an artist, becoming President of the Royal Society of British Artists, a Royal Academician, a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, one of the earliest members of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers, and finally being honoured with a knighthood. His carefully composed landscapes reflect the influence of the Barbizon School of Artists, in particular the work of Corot and Daubigny, and his heavily bitten printed works anticipate the bold etched statements of Sir Frank Brangwyn. Alfred East worked direct from nature in a manner which gives an open, airy, and often highly atmospheric feel to all of his works.
Since his death, Sir Alfred East's work has been completely neglected, although there has been a revival of interest in recent years. Most of Sir Alfred East's highly effective etched work is very rare, as the majority of his prints were deliberately destroyed in a bonfire soon after his death. Few of East's etchings were released in published editions and consequently extremely few of his proofs are signed in pencil. Despite the highly accomplished nature of his etchings, aquatints and drypoints, this considerable printed oeuvre has remained obscure largely due to its extreme rarity.