Sir Francis Seymour Haden

Prominent British surgeon (1818 - 1910) with a keen interest in etching and print collecting

Haden was Whistler’s brother-in-law. He was a prominent London-based surgeon and print collector with a keen interest in etching. Haden encouraged Whistler to work from nature and together they etched scenes along the River Thames.

Haden played a significant role in redefining etching as an original art medium in Britain. In 1866 he published an influential article, ‘About Etching’, in the Fine Arts Quarterly Review. Haden established etching as an immediate response to nature, championing its creative qualities over its reproductive function. He highlighted the importance of biting a plate immediately after drawing on it, to minimise the gap between inspiration and execution. Haden emphasised the significance of the etched line and advocated ‘a labour of selection and omission’ in which blank spaces could prompt the viewer to determine the meaning of what they saw. The lack of a line was just as important as the line itself.

In 1880 Haden became the founder and first president of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers which supported and promoted artists working in the medium. He often referred to etchers as painter-etchers to establish how etching was equal to painting.
  • Gender
    Male
  • Relationship
    Artist/maker, Sitter
  • Nationality
    British: English
  • Born
    1818-09-16
  • Place of birth
    Europe: Northern Europe: UK: England: London
  • Died
    1910-06-01
  • Place of death
    Europe: Northern Europe: UK: England: Hampshire
  • Cause of death
    Unknown or unrecorded
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