Francis Seymour Haden Biography

Francis Seymour Haden




Sir Fancis Seymour Haden was born in Chelsea, London, England on September 16, 1818. An amateur printmaker in the true sense of the word. A surgeon by profession, he chose etching as a hobby, but soon developed his technique to a high artistic level. Through his work, his speeches, and his activities in the Royal Society of Painter Etchers which he founded, he helped to popularize the medium in England, France, and the United States, and he eventually saw its status secured in official art circles.

Although Haden made his first etchings around 1845, it was not until twelve years later that he began to seriously create in the medium. At first he worked closely with great American born artist James Abbot McNeil Whistler, his brother-in-law, but eventually their relationship disintegrated as their aesthetics took divergent paths. Haden was at his best when producing romantic, serene landscapes in either pure etching or etching and mezzotint.

The importance of line and light is pre-eminent in his work and reflects the influence of earlier English artists such as the Norwich school, as well as 17th century Dutch artists like Rembrandt. Although Haden viewed etching as a spontaneous medium, many of his most important compositions were first worked out in preliminary drawings and progressed through several states. Recognition of his art came in the form of a knighthood, exhibitions, and the increased popularity of the etching medium to which he devoted his artistic life.

Sir Francis Seymour Haden died in Bramden, Hampshire, England on June 1, 1910.