Superb first state proof impression, before the reduction in size of the plate and before the initials at the upper left corner were removed and replaced by the signature of Alphonse Legros in the title space. Prior to numerous subtle alterations to the image, most notably prior to burnishing of the shading at the side of the sitter’s neck.
In the 1922 catalogue for the exhibition of his leading reference collection, F.E.Bliss listed a similar first state impression of this work as item no.283, noting it to be ‘Rare’ and recording that only 14 impressions were printed. A comparable first state impression can be found in the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., though London’s National Portrait Gallery only holds a lesser impression in one of the later states.
Sir Charles Holroyd was one of the most prolific etchers of his generation. He was taught by Alphonse Legros at the Slade School of Art and his work shows the considerable influence of his close friend William Strang. Sir Charles Holroyd was appointed first Keeper of the Tate Gallery and later Director of the National Gallery. These posts ensured that he did not need to depend upon printmaking for his livelihood; consequently, his etchings were not issued in formal editions. Impressions of his etchings were only taken when required and, as a result, many of his printed works are very scarce indeed.
Alphonse Legros was the single most influential European printmaker upon the development of the etching revival in England. Born in Dijon, Legros was persuaded 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 Legros was to exert a formidable influence upon the direction of an entire generation of British printmakers.
On cream laid paper with full margins and deckle edge. One or two marginal defects, otherwise very good original condition.