AUSTIN, Robert

ROBERT AUSTIN
              British, 1895-1973

Robert Austin artist and printmaker was born in Leicester. He attended the Leicester Municipal School of Art from 1909-1913; before winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London.
Like most art colleges of the period, one of the main emphasizes was placed on life drawing, a technique that he excelled at and continued throughout his life. Austin’s’ studies were interrupted by the First World War and he served as a gunner in the trenches. After resuming his place at the Royal College he began etching under Frank Short and he was awarded a scholarship to the British School in Rome. He lived and travelled throughout Italy from 1922-26 and was inspired by the Italian Landscape, architecture and art. Being particularly interested in the old master prints which he had seen in Italy, he started to use engraving in his prints rather than etching. On returning to England Austin visited Norfolk and in 1935 he purchased an old chapel in Burnham Overy Staithe which he converted into his home and studio. Austin liked to work in the early hours of the morning to catch the best light.
During the Second World War, Austin was appointed as an Official War Artist. He was based in Ambleside with the Royal College of Art. Most of his commissions were drawings at the Woolwich Arsenal, nurses and fighter pilots. His most famous commission was designing the new Ten Shilling and One Pound notes issued in 1960. Robert married in 1923 and had three children who became subjects in his drawings.
Austin was elected as a Royal Academician in 1949, President of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1956 and President of the Royal Society of Painter- Etchers in 1962.

Exhibitions

Twenty One Gallery 1926

Colnaghi 1939

Ashmolean Museum 1980

Leicester Museum and Art Gallery 1980

Fine Art Society 2001 & 2002

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