Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Class of 21: William Larkins, Paul Drury, Edward Bouverie Hoyton & Graham Sutherland

A purchase on Charing Cross Road, London, in November, 1924 led to some of the most lyrical British prints ever made. The man doing the buying was William Larkins, a 23 year old student at Goldsmiths College in New Cross, the purchase Samuel Palmer's etching 'The Herdsman's Cottage' of 1850.

This he showed to his fellow etching students at Goldsmiths. There followed a rash of cottages and brilliance that lasted with some of them till 1933. Graham Sutherland produced this etching called 'Crayfields' the following year and later described the day they saw the Palmer as a turning point for them all. Edward Bouverie Hoyton's etching 'Great Seaside Farm' belongs to 1925.

What had impressed them were Palmer's deeply bitten lines, intensely worked surface and luminosity. Palmer was nothing if not a craftsman, always with quite original technique.
Paul Drury who made his etching 'September' in 1928 was no less painstaking than Palmer himself.

Last but not least is Sutherland's sublime 'Pecken Wood' also of 1928. Of all of them he had learned how to handle the variation of light from Palmer. By the time these later etchings had been made, the famous Palmer exhibition of 1926 had been held at the V&A. The effect on Sutherland is clear, a wonderful synthesis of Palmer's early pen and sepia imagery and later etchings.

Ironically it was Larkins, the boy from Bow, who was perhaps least affected.

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