Boston Public Library

Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910). Prints and Drawings

Sir Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910) was an English physician and printmaker.

Born in London, Haden was trained as a physician and was admitted to membership in the College of Surgeons in 1842. He received no formal training as an artist. However, he made his first sketches from nature during a trip to Italy in 1843-1844. On his return to London, he turned to studying the prints of the Old Masters, including Albrecht Dürer, Lucas van Leyden, and Rembrandt van Rijn.

Haden shared his interest in etching with his brother-in-law, the American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Along with other contemporary artists, both he and Whistler became major figures in the movement to revive etching as a fine art technique that took place during the second half of the 19th century in England and France. Through the course of his career as a printmaker, Haden mastered the techniques of etching, drypoint, and mezzotint. His personal commitment also led him to write and lecture on etching, especially on the work of Rembrandt, whose prints Haden collected. Haden also served as the first president of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers.

Through the gifts of Albert H. Wiggin, Louis Black, and other donors, Boston Public Library has acquired a substantial collection of prints by Haden. Included are impressions of Thames Fishermen, Shere Mill Pond, A Sunset in Ireland, and Breaking Up of the “Agamemnon.” The Wiggin gift also included a copy of Haden’s book About Etching (London: Fine Arts Society, 1879). The frontispiece of that volume is an impression of the etching The Somme, and the volume contains an autograph letter from Haden and the first printed proof of his pamphlet The Art of the Painter-Etcher.

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