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Sir Francis Seymour Haden

Friday 17th December 2021

Two Works by a Former Marlborough Parent Gifted to National Gallery of Ireland by current Head of Art

Two compositions by Francis Seymour Haden, Mytton Hall (1859) and Sunset in Ireland (1863), were recently accepted by the Governors of the National Gallery in Dublin for the permanent collection.

Former Marlborough College parent Sir Francis Seymour Haden (1820–1910) was a successful surgeon in Victorian Britain. He was George Cotton’s and George Bradley’s (two previous Marlborough College Masters) physician. Although Haden pursued a very successful medical career, he is now remembered for his etched work as well as for his writings on etching for which he was knighted in 1893. Haden was one of a group of artists, including James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) and Alphonse Legros (1837–1911), whose passionate and crusading interest in the medium led to the Etching Revival, a period that lasted well into the 20th century.

The extolling of etching for its inherent spontaneous qualities reached its pinnacle during this time. While the line of the etching needle, Haden wrote, was ‘free, expressive, full of vivacity’, that of the engraved burin was ‘cold, constrained, uninteresting’, and ‘without identity’.

Mytton Hall and Sunset in Ireland are iconic compositions. Mytton Hall is an old mansion in Lancashire in which the entrance to the hall bordered by mature trees is superbly drawn and shaded. Sunset in Ireland mirrors Dundrum or Multeen river in Tipperary in the centre, flowing through the estate of the then Viscount Hawarden, viewed from the east bank. Both works celebrate the ‘free, expressive, full of vivacity’ rendering of line Haden is famous for.

More information can be found here and here.

Edward Twohig RE
Head of Art

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