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Past and Present
Mounted (ref: 5686)
The original copper plate, cancelled
198 x 140 mm (plate size)
Provenance: The Artist's Estate
It is generally acknowledged that Austin was one of the greatest exponents of line engraving of the Twentieth century. Campbell Dodgson, keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, who compiled the standard reference work on Austins' work, compared his work to that of Durer noting that Austin had 'more than a touch of that master in him' (Robert Austin, Twenty-One, 1930 Gallery).
Although, as was common practice amongst print makers, Austin cancelled his plates after their edition run, the manner in which he did this is remarkable. Far from defacing the compositions by scratching lines across the centre, or drilling holes in the plates, Austin drew precise lines of different proportions, dissecting each composition, responding individually to each image. As such the geometry of each composition appears heightened, and the plates take on a abstract beauty of their own.
Other examples of Austins original plates are in the collection of the Ashmoleon Museum and the Royal Academy.