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Print REbels: Haden, Palmer, Whistler & the Origins of the RE

Aberystwyth University School of Art Gallery (Tessa Sidey Gallery & Galleries 1 & 2)

18 February – 3 May 2019

In the Spring of 2018, the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (the RE) marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of the founder and its first President Sir Francis Seymour Haden, with Print REbels an exhibition which reflects on its past and present members, the history, and the legacy of the Society. The exhibition brings together a prestigious collection of prints by Haden and those who inspired him such as Rembrandt and Dürer and his contemporaries, including Samuel Palmer and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

The central narrative of Print REbels is the legacy of Haden and successive RE Presidents. Haden founded the Society of Painter-Etchers in 1880 which gained Royal status in 1888. His tireless campaigning to promote original, creative works in the medium of etching ultimately made him a revered establishment figure, earning him a knighthood in 1893.

Print REbels is the brainchild of Edward Twohig ARE, printmaker, collector, and Head of Art at Marlborough College. Twohig recognized the fact that printmakers such as Haden, Whistler and Palmer were rebelling against the prevailing notion in the mid-Victorian art world and in institutions such as the Royal Academy, that printmaking was merely a means of reproducing paintings and not a creative medium in its own right. Their work paved the way for the Etching Revival in Britain for the next 75 years.

Part of this exhibition includes the Print REbels Portfolio which comprises new works by current RE Members, made specifically in response to the Society’s heritage. Twenty-five of these works have been selected by Jenny Ramkalawon, Assistant Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum for a Print REbels boxset.

A large, fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition. RE Members Anne Desmet and Joe Winkelman have compiled a detailed timeline of Sir Francis Seymour Haden’s life and its intertwining with the development of the RE. The catalogue features essays on Haden and his legacy by Elizabeth Harvey-Lee (Hon RE) and on the RE and 20th century printmaking by Aberystwyth University School of Art’s own Professor Robert Meyrick (Hon RE).

Pre-19th, 19th and 20th Century artists include: Seymour Haden, Albrecht Durer, Rembrandt, JMW Turner, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Samuel Palmer, James Tissot, Claire Leighton, Paul Cezanne, Georges Braque and William Russell Flint.