The Old Print Shop

Norman Lindsay


The Australian artist, Norman Lindsay, was a controversial figure.  His favorite subjects rampant nudes and pagan themes shocked many.  During the early twentieth century some people considered his art blasphemous and wanted it confined to locked rooms.  Such notoriety, however, did not stop the public from collecting his work; and today he is considered one of Australia's greatest artists, producing 375 etchings and a large number of oils, drawings, watercolors, and novels throughout his long life.  His wife, Rose, who was the printer of the etchings, compiled seven volumes of the etchings with related study drawings and donated them to the State Library of New South Wales in Sidney.  This is the largest and most complete collection of his graphic work.  During his lifetime, he had over ninety gallery exhibitions of his work and today is represented in many museum collections.

Norman Lindsay made his first etching in 1897.  However, it was not until 1917 that he embraced the medium and began producing a serious body of graphic work.  Aside from his creativity, he was a master craftsman working in etching, drypoint, aquatint, and engraving, often combining these intaglio techniques to produce his images.  Of the 375 recorded etching, 175 were never published and exist in only a handful of proofs.  His editions of the published prints are small, rarely exceeding 55.  His only exhibition in America was in 1943 at the Argus Bookshop Gallery in Chicago, Illinois.  Therefore, this exhibition of forty of his celebrated etchings is an important event.

It is interesting to note that a number of American artists also produced etchings in the late nineteenth century, abandoned the medium, and started making etchings again in the second decade of the twentieth century.  Two of the more famous American artists from this group who are considered great printmakers are Childe Hassam and Frank Benson.  Hassam produced his first etching in 1898 returning to the medium again in 1915, and Benson produced his first etching in 1882 returning to the medium again in 1912.