DAVID MUIRHEAD BONE
“The fame of Muirhead Bone is more international than that of any British etcher except Whistler.”
Sir David Muirhead Bone: One of eight children, Sir David Muirhead Bone was born and raised in a Glasgow suburb. First trained in the profession of architect, Bone’s early aptitude for art quickly rose to the fore. Although he attended some classes at the Glasgow School of Art, Muirhead Bone was almost entirely self-taught. His first etchings and drypoints date from 1898 and were mostly experimental in nature. Within just two years, however, he had established himself as a premier British etcher. One writer relates, “Many of Bone’s finest works belong to his first ten years ... In the art of drypoint, Bone did not, from his first attempts, take long to achieve a mastery which it was well-nigh impossible to improve upon, certainly not as a technical process.” *
The year 1901 marks a pivotal point in the art of Muirhead Bone. It was in this year that he moved to London and had his first one man exhibition at the Carfax Gallery. It was also in 1901 that his set of ten etchings (of which this is one) of the Glasgow Exhibition were published by Annan in a sole, limited edition of ninety impressions. These beautiful etchings, each strengthened by the artist with extensive drypoint, clearly show Bone’s brilliant analysis of structure and solidity -- concerns which would have such a large influence upon the shaping of twentieth century British art. Within the areas of form, line and perspective these etchings are simply superb masterworks from one of Britain’s greatest twentieth century artists.
A word should be said concerning the scarcity of most Muirhead Bone etchings and drypoints, including this original example. Muirhead Bone was a purist who would not steel-face his plates for printing large editions. Because most of his intaglio prints contain considerable drypointing (which wears very quickly under the pressure of printing) few of his prints exist in editions of over one hundred. Thus the majority of Muirhead Bone’s etchings and drypoints are very difficult to acquire. None of his Glasgow Exhibition etchings, for example, have been at recorded auctions in the recent past. Suffice it to say that when impressions of Bone’s most famous drypoints, such as, Spanish Good Friday and Ayr Prison surface at today’s auction houses they bring prices in excess of $3,000.