Shere Mill Pond, No.II (Large Plate) 1860
Original etching with drypoint.
Signed and dated in the plate.
Ref: Schneiderman 37 vi/ix; Harrington 38 ii
S 206 x 352 mm; P & I 178 x 333 mm
Original Francis Seymour Haden etching with drypoint.
Excellent impression with fine, clear line in the detailed passages. A striking proof impression in the 6th state (of nine), as released by Francis Seymour Haden in his Études à l’eau-forte portfolio.
One of the most renowned of all of Sir Francis Seymour Haden’s etched works, the large plate of Shere Mill Pond has always been amongst the artist’s most sought after etchings. In his later years Haden stated of this etching “The detail of Shere Mill Pond would be beyond my powers now… SHERE will always be a popular plate and will maintain its value. Moreover it will shortly be a very rare plate seeing that it was destroyed when there were yet 40 impressions to be taken from it to make up the 250 (Études à l’eau-forte copies) provided for.” The truth of this statement is borne out by Gutekunst’s catalogue of 1911 in which no impression of this plate was available for sale.
This plate distills Francis Seymour Haden’s combined love of etching and angling perhaps more perfectly than any other image. Here, the artist has recorded the view of a true fisherman - a choice pond surrounded by reeds and lush vegetation, the perfect place to entrap that elusive fish. Haden would work directly onto the prepared plate, from life, whilst sitting at the water’s edge waiting for the fish to bite. Indeed, he regarded fishing as entirely compatible with his practise of etching - he is recorded to have expressed the opinion that “Angling has a peculiar charm for men of powerful and active intellect... because it calls into play all the powers of observation”. This magnificent etched work is testament to F.S.Haden’s own powers of observation.
A paradigm of technical complexity, Shere Mill Pond No.II required many carefully planned stages of biting with acid in order to achieve the recession and varied shadows created by the contrast between thick, heavily bitten etched lines and the fine work to be found in the light and distant areas. This style of controlled biting requires remarkable skill, much experience, and many hours of labour. In this respect this large plate is amongst the most elaborate of all of Francis Seymour Haden’s great etched works.
At the time when this etching was produced, Haden had not adopted a formal practice of signing his proofs in pencil and, although he took to signing the majority of his prints in later years, there appears to have been little consistency to his approach. Many early working proofs and even excellent completed impressions remained unsigned, though they are often superior in quality to pencil signed examples from the same plates.
R. Gutekunst, the dealer who inherited the rights to sell all of Haden's remaining prints upon his death, noted on the front of his catalogue in July 1911: "It may be useful to add that those impressions of Sir Seymour Haden's early and rare etchings, which were published in portfolio form in Paris in 1865-66, under the title "Etudes a l'eau forte" have, with the exception of one or two sets, never been signed in autograph by Sir Seymour, and do not, of course, bear any stamp of any kind."
An impression of this outstanding work was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1861 under Haden’s pseudonym, H. Dean. Francis Seymour Haden used this anagram of his own name early in his career as an artist, in order to retain his anonymity and preserve his professional reputation as a surgeon.
On fine laid paper with elaborate armorial crest watermark. With margins as prepared by the artist. Upper platemark strengthened verso at one point only, otherwise very fine condition.