Alphonse Legros was the single most influential European printmaker upon the development of the etching revival in England. Born in Dijon, Alphonse Legros was pursuaded to move to London by Whistler, whom he had met in Paris. Legros rapidly achieved recognition for his highly accomplished etchings and in 1875 was placed in charge of the etching class at the Royal College in South Kensington and the following year was made Professor of Fine Art at the influential Slade School. It was during his eighteen years in this post that Alphonse Legros was to exert a formidable influence upon the direction of an entire generation of British printmakers.
Not only did Alphonse Legros propound a light, uncomplicated style of etching, but he brought with him certain French concepts of art which were in total contrast to the heavily worked genre art of Victorian England. Alphonse Legros’ artistic development had stemmed, almost entirely, from his formative years in France prior to 1863, during which time the Barbizon school of artists were ascendant in original etching. It is their sense of open air landscape, together with a naturalistic handling of light, which Alphonse Legros introduced to English etching and which is crutial to his importance in the history of original printmaking.