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Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 1744 RE
Held at: Bankside Gallery
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Full title: Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers
Date(s): 1877-2003
Level of description: collection (fonds)
Extent: approximately 50 boxes
Name of creator(s): Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers | 1992-
Society of Painter-Etchers | 1880-1887
Royal Society of Painter-Etchers | 1887-1898
Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers | 1898-1992


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Society of Painter-Etchers was a voluntary society formed in 1880 by Seymour Haden and James J Tissot, Alphonse Legros and Hubert Herkomer, Robert Walker Macbeth, Heywood Hardy, who sought recognition of etching as a painter's art, rather than merely a craftsman's means of reproducing an artist's painting in multiples. It was also a protest against the Royal Academy's unwillingness to accept artists' etchings as original works of art and their refusal to elect artist-etchers as Academicians, though is elected craftsmen-engravers to membership and showed their copies of Academicians' paintings in the annual exhibitions.

It gained immediate support from fellow printmakers, and the following year an additional number were elected to the Society and the group prospered, so much so that in 1888 Queen Victoria granted a Royal title to the Society and in 1898 allowed its name to be enlarged to include Engravers, and in 1911 King George V granted a Charter of Incorporation and Bye-laws.
In 1989, to accommodate advances in technology and fully represent current printmaking in all its forms, the RE, as the Society had become known, voted to include all kinds of artists' prints in its exhibitions and to elect as members outstanding artists working in any of the various printmaking media. The revision of the name to The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, further reflects this change, and was approved by HM The Queen, The Privy Council, and the Home Office.
The Society has assembled a unique Diploma Collection of Prints, comprising a representative work from each new member upon election. This growing collection of more than a thousand prints, including works by such well reputed artists as Sickert, Poynter, Alma-Tadema, Griggs, Brockhurst, Knight, Sutherland, Hermes, Gross, Hayter, Bawden, and Rothenstein, is now held in trust by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. From the beginning the Society had members in common with the Royal Watercolour Society (RWS) and a long term partnership ensued, with the Society sharing premises with the RWS. In 1980, they jointly established the Bankside Gallery Charitable Limited Company, where their regular exhibitions now take place. The Society's major exhibition of Member's work generally in May each year.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers comprising:

Council minutes 1880-1954, 1855-1986; rules and regulations 1888-1927; reports from Council to the Annual General Meeting 1883-1925; reports of Annual General Meeting proceedings 1888-1978; financial records 1881-1954; newspaper cuttings book 1889-1910, 1933-1946; exhibitions registers 1889-1962, 1968-1983; sales books 1890-1942, 1955-1968; sales file 1969-1983; register of names and address 1900-1920; roll of candidates 1920-1933; council signatures 1890-1910, 1920-1960; correspondence between Seymour Haden and the Print Sellers Association 1877-1884; papers for society elections 1963-1978; general correspondence 1880-1989; lists of Diploma Etchings 1882-1891; scrapbooks, 1898, 1894; lists of contributors to exhibitions 1881-1887; prospectus 1881 (also in French and German); photographs of Haden [1902]; photos of exhibition galleries 1909; printed monographs of Haden 1880-1902; papers and correspondence relating to the dispute over the RE charter 1905-1906; files relating to Haden's will 1908;

Catalogues of exhibitions 1881-1990, including annual exhibitions, open exhibitions and various visiting exhibitions;

Joseph Webb Memorial Fund minute book 1922-1981; correspondence 1964-1972; competition papers 1972-1979; and ledger 1965-1976;

Print Collector's Club records including minutes 1921-1991; sale book for Print Collectors Club publications 1939-1955; financial records 1928-1942, 1972-1983; correspondence 1921-1938, 1962-1974; Annual General Meeting reports and drafts 1922-1939; pamphlets for demonstrations of etching, mezzotint, wood-cutting and wood-engraving, acquatint, lithography, line engraving and dry point, 1922-1957; publicity materials 1933-1988; and rule book 1921;

Personal papers collections of Sir Frank Short, c1905-1924 (see separate description); Nathaniel Sparks 1916-1923 (see separate description); Thomas Lupton 1827-1854; and John Landseer [1804].

miscellaneous drawing of Frederick Goulding by James Tissot;

and collection of tools used by Seymour Haden presented to the society by his family.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, French, German

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

By appointment, contact the Archivist in the first instance, Bankside Gallery, 48 Hopton St, Blackfriars, London SE1 9JH.

Conditions governing reproduction:

At the discretion of the Archivist.

Finding aids:

Catalogued at Bankside Gallery, Dec 1994-Sep 1995.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Generated by the Society and its predecessors in the course of business., with some material presented by private individuals.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Records of RE exhibitions since 1980 are included in the archives of Bankside Gallery.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

No day with a line, the history of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers, 1880-1999, Martin Hopkinson, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1999.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Historical Manuscripts Commission's On-Line National Register of Archives; The business of watercolour, a guide to the archives of the Royal Watercolour Society, Simon Fenwick & Greg Smith, Ashgate, Aldershot, 1997; Printworks Magazine (online) Compiled by Alison Field as part of the London Signpost Survey Project

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
September 2003

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