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Frederick Landseer Maur Griggs

1876 - 1938

Memory of Clavering by Frederick Landseer Maur Griggs

Memory of Clavering   1934

  Original etching.
Signed in pencil.
Ref: Comstock 51 iii/iv; Moore pp.243-246.
S 186 x 241 mm; P & I 177 x 240 mm
Original F.L.Griggs etching.

Outstandingly beautiful impression, printed with exceptional clarity and strong, dark inking. Signed proof in the third state of the plate – this is widely regarded as by far the most desirable state of this etching. Numbered '3' in pencil - one of only 68 signed proofs in this state, with the etched sonnet beneath the image. A total of 98 impressions were printed in all four states.

A truly poetic vision of English architecture, Memory of Clavering proved to be the most successful of Griggs’s later etchings. The title is particularly appropriate as the subject was composed entirely from the artist's memory of a place which he had not visited for some fifteen years.

Clavering is a village in north west Essex, only a few miles from the artist's home town of Hitchin. The village had been well known to Griggs during his youth and he re-visited the place in 1919. When he made this etching Griggs intended to portray a viewpoint of the village as he remembered it, but with an atmosphere of times long gone. When sent some photographs of the village after he had completed this scene, he was shocked and saddened by how it had changed. The verses inscribed below the image in this, the most desirable state of the plate, capture Griggs’s sentiments (regarding the gradual deterioration of our most beautiful villages) to perfection:

A Rose as faire as ever saw the North
Grewe in a little garden all alone
A sweeter flowre did Nature nere put fourth
Nor fairer Garden yet was never knowne.
The Maydens danc't about it morne and noone
And learned Bards of it their ditties made
The nimble ffairyes by the pale faced moone
Water'd the Roote & kiss'd her pretty shade
But welladaye the Gardner careless grewe
The maids & ffairyes both were kept awaye
And in a drought the Caterpillars threwe
Themselves upon the Budd & every Spraye

God shield the stock! If heaven send no supplyes
The ffairest Blossom of the Garden dyes.

This outstanding impression is a particularly fine example of this enchanting work, with the lettering printed clearly. Griggs wrote to Harold Wright of Colnaghi: “As to the verses on ‘Clavering’, these were only lightly etched (as you well know) for a few prints only, and I think the time has come when I can no longer get it clear enough, except with extreme difficulty and somewhat at the expense of the subject.” Soon after this, he wrote again: “It’s very unfortunate about the lettering, but there was no help for it. It’s not due to any vagary of my own but, as I said, the lettering had no more than a surface etching - was indeed little different from a mezzotint - and it would not wear.” This impression, printed with the sonnet, shows the lettering printing clearly.

On antique laid paper, with thread margins at top and sides and with margin to accommodate the pencil signature at the base, as prepared by Griggs himself. Griggs would trim his proofs in this manner to facilitate flattening the paper without pressing the embossed etched lines. Slight discolouration at extreme bottom edge of outer margin, some mild and unobtrusive foxing, otherwise very fine original condition. Image surface excellent.