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Robert Austin (1895 - 1973)

Self-portrait and Jackdaw, 1949

SKU: 11232

Signed

Etching

Size:
Height – 20.3cm
Width – 17.3cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
The Artist’s Studio
Presentation:
folio

Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, and Paul Liss. Portrait of an Artist. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p.265.

During the Second World War Austin worked as a war artist recording the efforts of women in the Royal Air Force and in the nursing services for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee. This enigmatic fish-eye lens self portrait, dated 1944,  shows Robert Austin working in an attic studio.   Jackdaws were considered variously both omens of death and a symbol of renewal – in spite of the reference  in the title no  jackdaw is in evidence, adding a further layer of mystery.

Self and Jackdaw is Post Campbell Dodgson 133; it was first printed in 1942.  Austin continued to alter the plate over the next seven years.

We are grateful to Michael Campbell for assistance.

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THE ARTIST

Robert Austin
Robert
Austin
1895 - 1973

Printmaker and draughtsman, born in Leicester. He studied at the School of Art there and at the Royal College of Art, 1914-16 and 1919-22, winning the Rome Scholarship for engraving in the latter year. He taught engraving at the Royal College of Art, 1927-44, becoming Professor in the Department of Graphic Design, 1948-55. Showed with RWS, of which he was a member and President; RE, of which he was a member; and the RA, to which he was elected in 1949. Austin was a meticulous craftsman-engraver and a vigorous draughtsman, as his series of drawings of Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and ballooning activities done during World War II shows. The Tate Gallery holds his work.

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, organised an exhibition of his work in 1980.

More recently he was the subject of two shows at the Fine Art Society plc (2001 and 2002), the latter organised in conjunction with Liss Fine Art Ltd.

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