Secondhand Rows 

Join Stephen Reid, our secondhand maestro, every month here as he takes a closer look at a couple of titles from his shelves.

September 2017

 - Monday, September 04, 2017

Norman Lindsay—Favourite Etchings. Introduction by Daniel Thomas.  Angus & Robertson, Sydney 1977. Hardcover; quarto; black boards with gilt illustration. Dustjacket. Unpaginated. Approx. 200pp. With 100 full-page captioned duo tone illustrations. Slight age spotting on edges otherwise Very Good condition in a slightly worn and sun faded Dustjacket. $95.00.

My German-born wife and I live in the Blue Mountains in the vicinity of the National Trust administered Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum. When she first arrived here, some 18 years ago, I spent ages raving to her about The Magic Pudding—Lindsay’s famed children’s book. My absolute favourite which incidentally, celebrates its centenary next year! Bunyip Bluegum, Uncle Wattleberry, Watkin Wombat! Albert the Puddin’!
My beloved’s life would be incomplete I insisted, unless she visited the mountain residence of this comic, artistic genius. One evening she told me she had finally made the pilgrimage. In a puzzled tone she remarked: ‘All those naked women? Being chased by a Devil?’ Oh. In my enthusiasm for ‘The Puddin’ I had completely neglected to mention Norman Lindsay’s other claim to fame/notoriety.
Norman Alfred William Lindsay (1879–1969) was born at Creswick, Victoria, the fifth of ten children in one of the most influential artist families in Australian art. He was a novelist as well as an illustrator, painter, cartoonist, sculptor, landscape designer, ship model maker and etcher. In 1912 Norman Lindsay and his family moved to Springwood. His brother Lionel (1874–1961) introduced him to etching, and between 1919 and 1937 he produced a varied and remarkable collection of prints. These remain among the most sought after of any Australian artist. Most of his etchings were completed in the 1920s at the height of his fame. In 1923 in a literary magazine called Vision—‘written from the viewpoint of the Dionysian intoxicated with life, drunken with the glory of youth’—Lindsay described his own artistic philosophy as creating art that appealed to the ‘Hyperboreans’—the Free Spirits who were liberated from convention and celebrated creativity and ‘the passion which recreates life upon earth’. This belief resulted in his numerous portrayals of voluptuous female nudes that were frank and often controversial. Indeed, in 1940, when some sixteen crates of drawings, paintings and etchings were transported to the United States for safe keeping during the war, they were impounded, deemed pornographic and burnt by US customs officials. ‘Don’t worry, I’ll do more’, was Lindsay’s reaction on being told the news. That was no idle boast. His energy and output were prodigious.
Rose Lindsay (1885–1978), the artist’s second wife, was also his model, collaborator, author, manager and print-maker of the majority of his etchings: ‘The etchings are entirely my wife’s affair. She prints them, arranges the editions, keeps count of their sales, destroys all discarded proofs and prints. Once I’ve finished a plate I’ve done with it’.
This book also contains an essay by Norman Lindsay on The Craft of Etching. The print selection was made from the two-volume work which Angus & Robertson published as Norman Lindsay: Two Hundred Etchings. Edited Douglas Stewart (1974). A deluxe, limited edition of 200 copies which sold out before publication. This present work was the first book to offer a selection of Lindsay’s etchings to a wider public.
A selection of my favourite Plates: Plate 1—Self-Portrait. Plate 60—The Black Hat (1924). Plate 64—The Pool. Plate 67—Death in the Garden (1923). Plate 84—Desire (1919). Plate 96—Lands of Afternoon (1923). Stephen