Robert Leman was trained as a painter by John Sell Cotman and his works were exhibited alongside those of the most famous of the Norwich artists at the Norwich Society exhibitions. He became the friend and patron of many of the Norwich School painters, in particular Henry Ninham, who it is thought introduced him to the techniques of etching.
Original etchings by Robert Leman are extremely rare, as they were never published in any formal edition. Leman is not known to have attempted to sell his works and it is likely that his etchings were made only for his personal interest or for distribution amongst his immediate friends in the Norwich Society.
Robert Leman's close friend, Henry Ninham printed many of the Norwich School etchers' plates and it is thought that these rare proof impressions were printed for Leman by Ninham. They were discovered together with a group of rare early proofs by Ninham and are printed on paper identical to that used for Ninham's own proofs. It is of interest that the two larger etchings by Leman are printed from plates identical in size to that used by Ninham for his Blasted Oak one of the proofs found in the Ninham group. It may well be that the two artists shared the copper plates which they used, either cutting the plates into even quarters or by etching on the back of each-others plates. The early proof impressions by Leman offered here are all especially fine examples with exceptionally crisp clarity of line, having been printed with particular care.