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Norman Hirst RE (1862-1956) - Early 20th Century Mezzotint, River Landscape

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A very fine and delicately shaded mezzotint by the well-listed artist Norman Hirst RE (1862-1956), depicting a river landscape with cattle and sheep on the banks, and a surrounding highland setting. It is possible that this print is after one of Hirst's own paintings, although we have been unable to verify this. The work is monogrammed within the plate to the lower left, and signed beneath the plate in graphite, with an illegible inscription. Signed. On wove.


The condition is typical for a picture of this age, including surface discolouration to the picture, and foxing to the mount. There are some light stains to the upper left area of the mount, and scuffing to the corners.


18.3 x 24.2cm (7.2" x 9.5")
Sheet: 40.4 x 46cm (15.9" x 18.1")

Artist Biography

Norman Hirst (1862-1956) was a mezzotinter and engraver born in Liverpool, although there is no knowledge of his primary or artistic education until at the age of 23, when he joined the Herkomer Art School, Bushey in 1885. Having arrived in Bushey he obtained a two-year scholarship at the School and then remained in the village until 1895. His first exhibited work was an engraving, shown in 1890 at both the Royal Academy and at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and he also showed in the June 1892 exhibition of work by Herkomer School students held at the Fine Art Society in New Bond Street. His reputation is first and foremost as a mezzotint engraver due to his insightful reproductions of works by Gainsborough, Lawrence, Romney, Watteau and others. During his long life, he showed at the Royal Academy 44 times, Dowdeswells, Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers and Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours.

Hirst was elected an Associate member of the RE in 1931. He was involved in a renowned court case of 1917 when he was called as an expert witness on the work of George Romney, the famous 18th century English portrait artist. An American collector had purchased a portrait allegedly by Romney and showing Mrs Siddons and her sister Miss Fanny Kemble. He paid £20,000 (now well in excess of £1million) for it to a New Bond Street dealership and later had qualms as to its authenticity. So he took the firm to court demanding his money back. The case was defended and the experts were divided, but Norman Hirst was one of the experts who correctly said that the work was not by Romney.

Hirst, with his intimate familiarity of Romney's works gained by his skilful copying in mezzotint, was well placed to be an authority in this dispute. In the event, the case was spectacularly concluded with the discovery of clear documentary evidence and artistic proof that the painting was, in fact, a portrait of the Waldegrave Sisters by Ozias Humphrey. Hirst, whose work was published by Frost & Reed, was a member of the Society of Mezzotint Engravers. Examples of his paintings are in the collection of Bushey Museum and Art Gallery, Museums Sheffield and the Williamson Art Gallery.

More Information
Code pm372
Artist Norman Hirst RE (1862-1956)
Date Early 20th Century
Dimensions 18.3 x 24.2cm
Framed No
Medium Mezzotint
Style Realism
Subject Landscape
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