The Royal Society of the Painter-Printmakers
This archive contains the prints held in the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers diploma print collection dating back to its conception in 1880. The collection consists of prints donated by members upon their election to the society, and as such, contains examples that reflect aesthetic and technical trends in printmaking from 1880 to the present day. The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers collection is currently located at the bankside gallery, London in conjunction with the Royal Watercolour Society. Find out more
The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, originally known as the Society of Painter-Etchers, was established in 1880 by Francis Seymour Haden who was one of the most renowned British etchers of the time. The society was set up in response to grievances felt by artists who used print as an expressive medium but were excluded from the Royal Academy which limited its members to painters, sculptors and architects.
Original printmakers however, were excluded because their medium was seen to be primarily reproductive, used by artisans whose greatest achievement was ‘in translating - with as little loss as possible - the beauties of ‘Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.’’1 Although in 1853 the Royal Academy had created a new class of Academician Engravers and Associate Engravers to honour those who reproduced the work of the painters, there was no recognition of the work of the original etcher.
As observed by Hopkinson, there were a number of reasons for this. These included a perception that original etchers of the time such as Barry, Blake and his followers were ‘rebels’. That caricaturists, were seen as below the salt while print based artists from the Norwich School and Scots, such as Wilkie and Geddes were seen as ‘provincials.’2
It was Haden’s wish to form a society that recognised and promoted artists who produced “original” and creative etchings.
1 Hopkinson, Martin ‘No Day Without A Line: The History of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers 1880-1999’ Ashmolean Museum: Oxford, 1999. p.9
2 IBID p.9