20th Century British Art
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Norman Hirst (1862-1956)

Printmaker and painter, born in Liverpool, who in 1885 took up a two-year scholarship at Herkomer's School in Bushey, where he remained until 1895. Later lived on the south coast, notably at Seaford, Sussex. While in Bushey Hirst learned his engraving and mezzotint skills at the fine art printing studios of H T Cox, and after he moved he continued to use the studios for mezzotinting, at which he was an expert. His reputation was mainly as a mezzotint engraver of works by Gainsborough, Lawrence, Watteau and Romney, and in 1917 he was called as an expert witness in a notable court case in which an attribution was disputed. (Hirst's opinion that the work was not by Romney was eventually borne out.) Hirst was made an associate of the RE in 1931. Frost & Reed published his works Sea Melodies and Capture and Agnew The Mall and Gamme d'Amour. Showed extensively at RA, also at Fine Art Society, Abber Gallery and RI, but a lack of interest in original mezzotints after World War II prompted Hirst's executors to burn most of his studio collection. Some of what remained was exhibited in Three Bushey Artists by the Bushey Museum Trust in 1991.

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