A vision of England: Etchings by William Monk
18 April 2013The 150th anniversary of a major Chester artist is being celebrated at the city’s Grosvenor Museum with the exhibition ‘A Vision of England: Etchings by William Monk’, which runs until August 4.
William Monk (1863-1937) was one of the most significant artists to be born in Chester. He was a highly respected figure in the British Etching Revival, a movement which saw the rebirth of etching as an artistically creative form of printmaking.
The exhibition demonstrates Monk’s technical brilliance, not least in the subtle manipulation of ink on the surface of the etched copper plate. His prints celebrate a vision of England which ranges from the quaint corners of picturesque Chester, through the age-old tradition of historic colleges, to the grandeur and vitality of metropolitan London.
William Monk was the son of the gunmaker William Henry Monk, whose business was in Foregate Street and continues today in Queen Street. He attended Chester School of Art and had a studio in Eastgate Row North. In 1887-8 Monk studied at the Antwerp Academy in Belgium, where he first started to etch. In 1888 he moved to a studio at Waterside Lodge, Barrell Well Hill, in the Chester suburb of Boughton. In 1892 Monk moved to London, where he subsequently spent the great part of his working life before returning to Chester in 1933.
Monk became an Associate of the Society of Painter-Etchers (now the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers) in 1894 and a full member in 1899. In 1902 he launched the Calendarium Londinense or the London Almanack, known to print collectors as ‘Monk’s Calendar’, and etched every edition up to 1938. Monk was one of the earliest members of the Society of Graver-Printers in Colour, founded in 1909, and was its Vice-President at the time of his death.
Councillor Stuart Parker, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Executive Member for Culture and Recreation, said: “I am enormously grateful to Robert Stones (1951-2011), who bequeathed most of the pictures in this exhibition together with a large collection of work by William Monk and other artists. The conservation of the pictures from the Robert Stones bequest was funded by the Megan Gwynne-Jones Charitable Trust, and I greatly appreciate this very generous support.”
Clive Pointon, Chairman of the Megan Gwynne-Jones Charitable Trust and head of wills, trusts and tax at Chester law firm Aaron & Partners, said: “With 46 exhibits spanning the artist’s career from the 1880s to the 1930s, this is the first retrospective of William Monk’s etchings since his memorial exhibition in 1938. I am delighted that the Trust has been able to fund the conservation of these pictures, enabling the public to fully appreciate this important Chester artist in his home city.”
The programme of accompanying events includes:
Lectures on the theme of English identity: