Ada Shrimpton Giles Biography

Ada Shrimpton Giles




At this time, there is little information that can be gleaned about English printmaker Ada Shrimpton Giles. A trained painter, the hallmark of her printmaking style is a delicate watercolor effect, lending a freedom rarely seen in many color prints of the day.

Born Ada Matilda Shrimpton in England in 1858, she exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy and with the Society of Women Artists beginning in 1889. In 1907 she met and married reknowned artist William Giles, a fellow British artist who was 21 years her junior and who inspired her to try printmaking. Giles had been experimenting with the Japanese method of color woodcut since 1901. Together the artists experimented with color printing techniques, essentially applying woodcut theory to metal plates and printing them relief. (Elizabeth Harvey-Lee notes in her catalog, "Mistresses of the Graphic Arts," that Ada's first print in this technique, "Almond Blossoms in the Apennines," 1911, predates her more well-known husband's own first attempt.)

The couple, who had married at the British Consulate in Venice, traveled frequently and captured their surroundings as they went. Eventually, with Ada's financial backing, William founded "Color Print Magazine" (1924 - 1926). In the June 1st, 1925 edition William Giles made the following announcement on page 42 "It is with deep regret the the Editor has to announce the death of his colleague and wife - Ada Matilda Shrimpton Giles, to whom the inception of this Magazine was largely due and whose last act was the granting of means by which the Original Colour Print should receive perpetual encouragement." Extracts from her will, printed in the June 1, 1926 edition, pages 127-128 indicate she left a sum of 3000 pounds to the British Museum and the V & A to set up an "A.M. Shrimpton and William Giles Bequest" to benefit colour printmaking.

Ada Shrimpton Giles also exhibited with Society of Graver Printers from 1913 to 1925, the year she died. Her work remains quite scarce.