Francis Seymour Haden Biography

Francis Seymour Haden




Sir Francis Seymour Haden was born in Chelsea, London, England on September 16, 1818. Haden was 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. Haden was in the heart of the Etching Revival in England and was a founder of the Royal Society of Painter Etchers (now the Royal Society of Painters Printmakers) and helped popularize the medium of etching in England, France, and the United States.

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 combined with mezzotint.

The importance of line and light is pre-eminent in Haden’s work and reflects the influence of earlier English artists of the Norwich school, as well as 17th century Dutch artists such as 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.

Haden’s work is represented in the British Museum and the Tate, London; the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; the Museum of Fine Arts Boston; the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum; the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the New York Public Library; the Huntington Library, Pasadena; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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