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).
original etching plates were rediscovered in 2007. They represents all
aspects of the artists oeuvre, from his first engraving (The Bridge,
1913 ) to his his last (Frost in May 1971). Although, as was common
practise 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.