For many fans and collectors of Norman Lindsay works an original etching is often their first purchase of work crafted by Norman Lindsay. Many original etchings are now held by major state and national galleries though a large number are in private collections and located in different parts of the world. You will find a small number of original etchings for sale in our online Norman Lindsay shop.
Lindsay’s etchings were first exhibited in Melbourne in 1918 and the following year in 1919 both Sydney and Melbourne held major exhibitions. His final exhibition of new etchings was held in 1937. An exhibition held at David Jones Art Gallery in Sydney in 1958 claimed to show 'complete published etchings' of Norman Lindsay and numbered two hundred.
If t is worth noting that the two hundred etchings did not include etchings which had been issued as illustrations in several high worth books. These etched illustrations where included in books by Leon Gellert - Isle of San (1919), Idyllia & Columbine by Hugh McCrae; Homage to Sappho by Jack Lindsay and Creative Effort by Norman himself. The final book etching was for Kenneth Mackenzie's Our Earth (1937). When all published etchings, book illustrations, etched bookplates and unpublished etchings are tallied the total number of etchings by Norman Lindsay is almost three hundred.
Norman Lindsay’s etchings are well documented, as is the process and history. Rose Lindsay maintained albums of all Norman’s etchings, regardless of whether or not they had been published. His first two etchings are noted as having been printed by his brother Lionel in 1908. Following that Sydney Ure Smith printed Norman’s etchings until 1913 when he noted 'all future printing was done by Rose Lindsay, as I had now acquired a Press'.
The press was kept at Springwood where Norman would craft the design on a copperplate (only a couple were done on zinc) and etch it into the plate with acid. Once the image plate was finalised Rose would mix the inks and print the full edition which never exceeded more than 55 copies from each copperplate and was often significantly less if the delicate metal surface became worn.
Norman’s son Jack described a visit to his father studio during the 1920s: "...watching Norman at work on a plate. Mostly he scratched with a fine needle on the wax coating, looked through a magnifying glass. He had given up rouletting or such devices as too coarse and set down at needlepoint each of the myriad dots with which he built up his tones. The strain of this staring through magnifying glass at a copper surface which glinted back at him with each removal of wax did not affect his eyes. Sometimes I helped him put a plate in the acid bath or pull a proof. (All the editions were printed off by Rose). Now and then I found in a drawer or lost at the back of a shelf, say, Hokisai's print of a wave, one of Blake's Thornton woodcuts, or a Rembrandt self-portrait etching which Norman promptly told me to take. Such things represented the period when Lion's art interest and ideas had been part of Springwood..."
In 1919 Lindsay said, "Etching is a fine medium for the element of mystery... one is able to command such a unity in the masses... the selection of light and tone is wholly the individual property of the etcher... we may achieve the most delicate of greys or the richest of blacks".