Frank Short

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Sir Francis Job "Frank" Short RA (19 June 1857 – 22 April 1945) was a British printmaker and teacher of printmaking. He revived the practices of mezzotint and aquatint engraving, and also wrote about printmaking to educate a wider public.


Blue plaque, 56 Brook Green

Francis Job Short was born on 19 June 1857, at Stourbridge, Worcestershire. He was educated to be a civil engineer.

He was engaged on various works in the Midlands until 1881, when he came to London as assistant to Baldwin Latham in connection with the Parliamentary Inquiry into the pollution of the river Thames. In 1883 he was elected an associate member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Having worked at the Stourbridge School of Art in his early years he joined the South Kensington School of Art, in 1883. He also worked at the life class under Professor Fred Brown at the Westminster School of Art, and for a short time at the Schools of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-colours.[1]

His real life-work now became that of an original and translator engraver. He was a keen student of the works of JMW Turner; and his etchings and mezzotints from Turner's Liber Studiorum (1885 seq.), examples of painstaking devotion and skill, were among his earliest successes, combining sympathetic study of the originals with a full knowledge of the resources of engraving and unwearied patience. Short received praise, constant advice and encouragement from Ruskin, and the co-operation of students of Turner such as William George Rawlinson and the Revd. Stopford Augustus Brooke. After completing the series from the existing plates of Turner's "Liber" Short turned to the subjects which Turner and his assistants had left incomplete. Several fine plates resulted from this study, bearing the simple lettering "F. Short, Sculp., after J. M. W. Turner, R.A.," which told little of the work expended on their production even before the copper was touched.

Short also reproduced in fine mezzotints several pictures of George Frederick Watts, "Orpheus and Eurydice," "Diana and Endymion," "Love and Death," "Hope," and the portrait of Lord Tennyson, all remarkable as faithful and imaginative renderings. His own fine quality as a water-colour painter made him also a sympathetic engraver of the landscapes of David Cox and Peter de Wint.

A blue plaque marks Short's former home at 56 Brook Green, Brook Green, Hammersmith, London.[2]


Short's subtle drawing of the receding lines of the low banks and shallows of river estuaries and flat shores is seen to perfection in many of his original etchings, mezzotints, and aquatints, notably "Low Tide and the Evening Star" and "The Solway at Mid-day." Other plates that may be mentioned are:

  • "Gathering the Flock on Maxwell Bank," a soft-ground etching
  • "New moon over the Bure", aquatint
  • "The Ferry over the Blyth," "Walberswick Pier," soft-ground
  • "Dutch Greengrocery," "Noon on the Zuider Zee," "De-venter," "Strolling Players at Lydd," "The clay pit", and "Staithes," all etchings
  • "A Wintry Blast on the Stourbridge Canal," "Peveril's Castle," and "Niagara Falls," dry points
  • "The Curfew," "A Span of old Battersea Bridge," and "Sunrise on Whitby Scaur," aquatints
  • "Ebbtide, Putney Bridge," "The Weary Moon was in the Wane," "Solway Fishers," "The Lifting Cloud," and "A Slant of Light in Polperro Harbour," mezzotints.

As head of the Engraving School at the Royal College of Art, South Kensington, Short had great influence on younger engravers, including Eli Marsden Wilson. He was elected to the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1885, and took a prominent part in conducting its affairs. In 1910 he succeeded Sir Seymour Haden as president.

Short received, amongst other distinctions, the gold medal for engraving at the Paris International Exhibition, 1889, and another gold medal (Rappel) 1900. In 1906 Short was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy, when membership as Associate Engraver was revived; and in 1911 he was elected a full Royal Academician, and also received a knighthood. His work as a watercolour painter was recognized in 1917 when he was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours.

The Etched and Engraved Work of Frank Short, by Edward F Strange (1908), describes 285 plates by the artist.


  1. ^ "Sir Frank Short". British Council. 
  2. ^ "Brook Green, West London". Daily Telegraph. 

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