Henry Farrer

Henry Farrer
1844 – 1903

Henry Farrer had two art pursuits for which he can be remembered. He was the founder of the American Watercolor Society and he was one of the first artists to do etching in the United States.

Farrer was born in England and immigrated as a young man to New York where he set up his studio. Henry had been self taught in England, probably learning by watching his trained, older brother whose work was in the highly detailed mode preferred by the Pre-Raphaelites. In the United States, Henry Farrer came to admire the Tonalist painters of New York and began to do paintings, mostly watercolor scenes, of early or late day when the light was low. Paintings with deep shadows effecting a quiet mood were typical of his work which were primarily landscapes that included marshes and ponds.

In 1877, Farrer became one of the founders of the New York Etching Club and meetings were often held at his home. Because he had built an etching press, he was in a position to encourage and assist other artists to learn to carry the process from start to finish. The alternative, at the time, was for etchers to take their plates to commercial printing companies. However, the artist who printed his own plates could make adjustments during the process and retain more control over the final prints.

Farrer’s etchings carry on the tonal quality he achieved in his paintings. He was a master draftsman and printer. Even in the darkest areas of his prints, crisp line and detail is evident.

In this etching of a road and bridge, Farrer transcends its simplicity with tonal light and emphasizes the tiny figure and the bridge with the consuming darkness of the trees.

Road and Bridge
Image size 3 1/8” x 4 7/8”
Signed in the plate as was common before the 20th century