Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Harold Frank Collinson: in Normandy !

Harold Frank Collinson
(Nottingham 1886 - 1955 New York USA) 
British etcher, printmaker and teacher.  

Harold Frank Collinson I've met before in Charles' Modern Printmakers Blog where he wrote enthusiastically about this wonderful woodblock print: Haying in the Vale of Trent. 

And although Charles seems to show another (?) copy with greenish skies (or has the first one been through Photoshop's laundry ?) 

to try and capture poring rain is on the one hand very Japanese ("Shono Haku-U", Driving rain at Shono) by Hiroshige (1795-1958) but .........

there's also the possibility Collinson was a British artist following John Constable (1776-1837) and William Turner (1775-1851) immensely enjoying  to master and capture typical British foul weather.  

You can read most of what is known about Collinson at Charles' Blog, but it wasn't mentioned he'd left his native Nottingham for America in 1940 and lived there until his death in New York in 1955. Collinson is mainly known as an etcher (and a teacher) but thanks to reader Tom here's another woodblock print by him. It came to me without a title. It took me some time but in the end I was able to figure out where it is and what it Collinson is showing us.

It is a view on a bend in river Seine, the ruins of Chateau Gaillard situated on  the steep hill (much like his native Nottingham Castle), the village of les Andelys below and counterbalancing the deep blues of the village and Eglise Saint Sauveur in the shadows in the lower right corner a heavy shower is placed in the upper left corner. Probably created in the 1920-30's ? 

What brought Collinson to Normandy and les Andelys ? 

Maybe he was on holiday or on his way to Paris, following the path and footsteps of perhaps the greatest of all British drawers and painters: William Turner (1775-1851) who also made the climb up the steep hill. 

Turners painting was turned into an etching by master engraver and keeper of the Prints Department of the British Museum in London John Thomas Smith (1766 - 1833). As an etcher Collinson could have been familiar with that print too. On the other hand: Collinson and Turner just happened to have both witnessed a heavy rain shower on the horizon when visiting les Andelys and chateau Gaillard.      

Collinson could also have been on his way to nearby Giverny, on a pilgrimage to Claude Monet's (1840-1926) gardens, just a few miles up-stream. I couldn't find a painting by Monet of  les Andelys but Australian impressionist Emanuel Phillips Fox (1865-1915) was definitely here painting the view from the same hill in wonderful bright pastel colors. 

And Paul Signac (1863-1935) lived and worked in Andelys in 1886 drawing and painting the picturesque village and river Seine slowly flowing to the West. It was here where his fame as a  painter was made.  

Henri Lebasque (1865-1937) a post-impressionist painter also painted from  the same spot where Turner stood before and Collison after him.  

There is mentioning of a woodblock print of Chateau Gaillard by British printmaker Phillip Needell (1886-1974) but I failed finding an example. Maybe there's more to come, maybe they knew each other. But then, I'm not a n expert on British prints or printmakers.      

Within the hour, after just  9 readers so far, thanks to a commenting reader the (a) Phillip  Needell print showing Chateau Gaillard was delivered to me. Here it is:

(les Petit Andelys and Gaillard Castle ruins seen from the banks of River Seine). 

Two years later (december 2017) reader Tom from Boston pointed me to another Gaillard print by Philipp Needell offered in Ebay. 


All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.     


  1. What about this print by Needell?: http://bit.ly/1XGXgFE
    It appears to be looking back at the Chateau from water's edge. Can't read the title in the lower corner. It appears to read "Le Petit ???ddy"


    1. Within the hour ! The amazing Internet. Thank you sooo much.
      It'll read "le Petit Andelys" without a doubt.
      Many thanks !

  2. Needell almost certainly made a colour woodcut of Chateau Gaillard similar to Collinson's. I seem to remember seeing it for sale a long time ago. Needell visited France for many years and his subjects include Normandy, Avignon and Martigues. I think the Collinson is just another version but it's very useful to see two more prints by him. I must check my catalogues once again.

    1. Thank you Charles, I look forward to it and hope you'll find. It would be interesting to see and compare.