Leonard Marchant RE

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Leonard Marchant
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Born (1929-10-23) October 23, 1929 (age 92)
Simon's Town, South Africa
DiedJanuary 9th 2000
Shrewsbury, England
NationalitySouth African
CitizenshipSouth Africa
Occupation
  • Painter
  • Printmaker

Leonard Marchant was a painter and printmaker particularly admired as a master of the Mezzontint. Marchant was born as Simon's Town, South Africa on 23rd October 1929 and died at Shrewsbury, England, January 9th 2000 (Aged 70).

Early Life

Marchant was born at Simon's Town, South Africa, the second son of Kathleen (nee Cunningham) and Henry Marchant. His father died in North Africa a victim of the Second World War when Marchant was 15 and he and his siblings were brought up by his devout Catholic mother, grandmother and aunts. [1] As a teenager he taught himself to paint and in 1950, at the age of 19, was given a solo exhibition at the Argus Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa. [2] In 1950, Marchant worked his passage on a merchant ship and arrived in London with little money and no contacts. He was not eligible for a grant to study in the UK. He telephoned Jacob Epstein out of the blue and visited him with a portfolio of drawings and paintings. Epstein was encouraging and gave him a letter of recommendation to the British Council who provided a grant to allow him to study for three months at the Saint Martin's School of Art. [3] Returning to London from South Africa a year later to continue his studies while supporting himself with menial jobs, he met and in September 1953 married Tess Trapier. Forced by financial and political constraints to return to South Africa, they finally moved permanently to the UK three years later in 1956 and in 1959 Marchant received a grant to study full time at the Central School of Art and Design, where his teachers included Merlyn Evans, Keith Vaughan and William Roberts. [4] Marchant discovered a Mezzotint rocker and rocking pole in a cupboard. “No one knew how to do it any longer so I had to teach myself," he later wrote, “it was an incredibly laborious process. What really appealed to me was the superb richness of the tone” [5]

Printmaking

During his studies, Marchant saw the mezzotints of Yuzo Hamaguchi a Japanese artist then living in Paris. [6] Marchant was inspired by the complex printmaking technique; “The copper plate must first be prepared with a “rocker” which roughens the surface. A plate may be “rocked” 30 or 40 times. The rough surface is then reduced with a burnisher and scraper allowing the print a range of tones from velvety black through the greys to white” [7] Although Marchant continued to paint throughout his life, he was best known for his mezzotints. “With his mezzotints, he touched greatness… Marchant was a master, his needle scratched in the darkness; a candle, a bowl, a cup and saucer gleamed forth.” [8] “Marchant is credited with the revival of this old craft in the (19)60s, especially in Britain.” [9] [1] In 1986Marchant was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers with whom he exhibited regularly. [10]

Painting

Marchant painted in oils throughout his life, concentrating initially on the portrait and in later life mostly on still life painting. “The paintings show the same narrow repetition of a single class of subject, as if the artist’s concern is more with technique and medium than with the objects that are portrayed. But something else has crept in to these oils – a sense of purposeful naivety, of magic realism that reminds one vaguely and unexpectedly of the works of Frida Kahlo... “Marchant has gone his own way, working mostly outside the dominant art movements of the late twentieth century. But the singularity of his vision and the poetic quality that he achieves, especially in his mezzotints, give his oeuvre an immensely satisfying edge.” [11]

Teaching

In 1963 Marchant joined the staff of the Central School of Art and Design in the Fine Art Etching department where he stayed until 1983. In later years Marchant travelled to other art schools including Royal College, Slade, Chelsea, Morley College and Winchester School of Art, to demonstrate the mezzotint process and illustrate the demonstration with his own work. [12] [13]

Later Years

After retiring from teaching, Marchant and his wife moved to Shropshire, UK, where he continued to work both on mezzotints and painting. His final solo show was held at the London Bankside Gallery in 1998 [14] He wrote at the time of his 1998 Bankside exhibition: "I have never been attached to any group. Partly because of the medium in which I work, I have sometimes found myself to be working in isolation, going my own solitary way. But interesting things can be found there..." [15]

Awards

1970 – Stet prize, Florence Biennale. [16] 1975 - Grocers Fellowship, British School at Rome, Rome. 1986 – Christie's Contemporary Art Prize – Best print in Royal Society of Painters Etchers and Engravers Exhibition. 1987 - CCA Galleries, PLC Award. 1998 - Purcell Paper Prize, National Print Exchange, Mall Gallery.

Solo Exhibitions

1950 - Argus Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa. 1957 - Argus Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa. 1957 - Lidchi Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa. 1975 - First solo UK exhibition at the Flowers Gallery London. 1977 - Pigeonhole, London. 1980 - Pigeonhole, London. 1983 - Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, Australia. 1985 - New Metropole Arts Centre, Folkestone, UK. 1986 - Shrewsbury School, Shropshire, UK. 1988 - Pretoria Museum, [2] South Africa. 1988 - Michaelis, University of Cape Town, South Africa. 1989 - Hurlingham Gallery, Chelsea, London. 1993 - English Bridge Workshop, Shrewsbury, UK. 1994 - Ludlow Assembly Rooms, Ludlow, UK. 1994 - Builth Wells Art Gallery. Builth, UK. 1994 - Shire Hall, Shrewsbury, UK. 1995 - Telford Teachers Gallery. Telford, UK. 1998 - Retrospective 1948 - 1998, Bankside Gallery, London.

Group Exhibitions

1962 - Royal Society of Wood Engravers, Craft Centre, London. 1963 - RWS Gallery - Society of Painter Etchers and Engravers, London. 1964 - RWS Gallery - Society of Painter Etchers and Engravers, London. 1965 - Grosvenor Gallery, London. 1965 - Contemporary Prints by Known and Unknown Artists, Grabowski Gallery, London. 1966 - Bradford City Art Gallery, Bradford, UK. 1967 - Bradford City Art Gallery, Bradford, UK. 1967 - 7 Italic text

Early Life

Marchant was born at Simon's Town, South Africa, the second son of Kathleen (nee Cunningham) and Henry Marchant. His father died in North Africa a victim of the Second World War when Marchant was 15 and he and his siblings were brought up by his devout Catholic mother, grandmother and aunts. [17] As a teenager he taught himself to paint and in 1950, at the age of 19, was given a solo exhibition at the Argus Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa. [18] In 1950, Marchant worked his passage on a merchant ship and arrived in London with little money and no contacts. He was not eligible for a grant to study in the UK. He telephoned Jacob Epstein out of the blue and visited him with a portfolio of drawings and paintings. Epstein was encouraging and gave him a letter of recommendation to the British Council who provided a grant to allow him to study for three months at the Saint Martin's School of Art. [19] Returning to London from South Africa a year later to continue his studies while supporting himself with menial jobs, he met and in September 1953 married Tess Trapier. Forced by financial and political constraints to return to South Africa, they finally moved permanently to the UK three years later in 1956 and in 1959 Marchant received a grant to study full time at the Central School of Art and Design, where his teachers included Merlyn Evans, Keith Vaughan and William Roberts. [20] Marchant discovered a Mezzotint rocker and rocking pole in a cupboard. “No one knew how to do it any longer so I had to teach myself," he later wrote, “it was an incredibly laborious process. What really appealed to me was the superb richness of the tone” [21]

Printmaking

During his studies, Marchant saw the mezzotints of Yuzo Hamaguchi a Japanese artist then living in Paris. [22] Marchant was inspired by the complex printmaking technique; “The copper plate must first be prepared with a “rocker” which roughens the surface. A plate may be “rocked” 30 or 40 times. The rough surface is then reduced with a burnisher and scraper allowing the print a range of tones from velvety black through the greys to white” [23] Although Marchant continued to paint throughout his life, he was best known for his mezzotints. “With his mezzotints, he touched greatness… Marchant was a master, his needle scratched in the darkness; a candle, a bowl, a cup and saucer gleamed forth.” [24] Marchant is credited with the revival of this old craft in the (19)60s, especially in Britain.” [25] [3] In 1986Marchant was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers with whom he exhibited regularly. [26]

Painting

Marchant painted in oils throughout his life, concentrating initially on the portrait and in later life mostly on still life painting. The paintings show the same narrow repetition of a single class of subject, as if the artist’s concern is more with technique and medium than with the objects that are portrayed. But something else has crept in to these oils – a sense of purposeful naivety, of magic realism that reminds one vaguely and unexpectedly of the works of Frida Kahlo... Marchant has gone his own way, working mostly outside the dominant art movements of the late twentieth century. But the singularity of his vision and the poetic quality that he achieves, especially in his mezzotints, give his oeuvre an immensely satisfying edge.” [27]

Teaching

In 1963 Marchant joined the staff of the Central School of Art and Design in the Fine Art Etching department where he stayed until 1983. In later years Marchant travelled to other art schools including Royal College, Slade, Chelsea, Morley College and Winchester School of Art, to demonstrate the mezzotint process and illustrate the demonstration with his own work. [28] [29]

Later Years

After retiring from teaching, Marchant and his wife moved to Shropshire, UK, where he continued to work both on mezzotints and painting. His final solo show was held at the London Bankside Gallery in 1998 [30] He wrote at the time of his 1998 Bankside exhibition: "I have never been attached to any group. Partly because of the medium in which I work, I have sometimes found myself to be working in isolation, going my own solitary way. But interesting things can be found there..." [31]

Awards

1970 – Stet prize, Florence Biennale. [32]

1975 - Grocers Fellowship, British School at Rome, Rome.

1986 – Christie's Contemporary Art Prize – Best print in Royal Society of Painters Etchers and Engravers Exhibition.

1987 - CCA Galleries, PLC Award.

1998 - Purcell Paper Prize, National Print Exchange, Mall Gallery.

Solo Exhibitions

1950 - Argus Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa.

1957 - Argus Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa.

1957 - Lidchi Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa.

1975 - First solo UK exhibition at the Flowers Gallery London.

1977 - Pigeonhole, London.

1980 - Pigeonhole, London.

1983 - Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, Australia.

1985 - New Metropole Arts Centre, Folkestone, UK.

1986 - Shrewsbury School, Shropshire, UK.

1988 - Pretoria Museum, [4] South Africa.

1988 - Michaelis, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

1989 - Hurlingham Gallery, Chelsea, London.

1993 - English Bridge Workshop, Shrewsbury, UK.

1994 - Ludlow Assembly Rooms, Ludlow, UK.

1994 - Builth Wells Art Gallery. Builth, UK.

1994 - Shire Hall, Shrewsbury, UK.

1995 - Telford Teachers Gallery. Telford, UK.

1998 - Retrospective 1948 - 1998, Bankside Gallery, London.

Group Exhibitions

1962 - Royal Society of Wood Engravers, Craft Centre, London.

1963 - RWS Gallery - Society of Painter Etchers and Engravers, London.

1964 - RWS Gallery - Society of Painter Etchers and Engravers, London.

1965 - Grosvenor Gallery, London.

1965 - Contemporary Prints by Known and Unknown Artists, Grabowski Gallery, London.

1966 - Bradford City Art Gallery, Bradford, UK.

1967 - Bradford City Art Gallery, Bradford, UK.

1967 - 7th International Exhibition of Graphic Art, Ljubljana, Yugoslavia.

1968 – Three works included in the British Council, Circulating exhibition. [5]

1968 - Modern Prints, Bethnal Green Museum, London.

1969 - Structural Growth in Natural Form, Upper Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, London.

1969 - Mezzotints, Oxford Gallery, Oxford, UK.

1970 - International Print Biennale, Florence, Italy.

1970 - Touring Shows in England and Wales, Printmakers Council.

1970 - Wolpe Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa.

1970 - Second International Print Biennale, Bradford, UK.

1970 - Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London.

1970 - Royal Academy Touring Exhibition.

1970 - International Print Biennale, Tokyo.

1971 - Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London.

1971 - 9th International Exhibition of Graphic Art, Ljubljana, Yugoslavia.

1972 - Printmakers Council Exhibition.

1972 - Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London.

1972 - International Exhibition of Graphic Art, Frechan, Germany.

1972 - 11th Annual Exhibition, Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, Glasgow, UK.

1972 - 4th International Biennale of Graphic Art, Krakow, Poland.

1972 - International Print Biennale, Bradford, UK.

1973 - Print Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

1973 - Loughborough College of Art, Loughborough, UK.

1973 - British Council Exhibition, South Africa.

1973 - Limited Edition Prints, Gallery 24, Shaftesbury, Dorset, UK.

1974 - International Contemporary Mezzotints, London.

1974 - International Contemporary Mezzotints, Park Square Gallery, Leeds, UK.

1974 - Royal College of Art Gallery, London.

1974 - Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London.

1974 - Quatrabiennale, Florence, Italy.

1974 - Third International Exhibition of Graphic Art, Frechen, Germany.

1975 - The Mezzotint Rediscovered, Colnaghi's, London.

1975 - Back to Black Two, Thumb Gallery, London.

1976 - Flowers Gallery, London.

1978 - Christchurch Arts Festival International of Drawings, Robert McDougal Art Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand, March to April 1978.[6] Page 23 – Christchurch Arts Festival International of Drawings catalogue. https://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/media/uploads/2010_08/Drawings-1978.pdf)

1981 - New Metropole Art Centre, Folkestone., UK.

1981 - Woman Washing, Francis Kyle Gallery, London.

1982 - 7th International Print Biennale, Bradford, UK.

1982 - Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London.

1982 - Modern Masters, Angela Flowers Gallery, London.

1982 - Pratt Graphics Centre (New York) Exhibition, Caracas, Venezuela.

1983 - Modern Prints from the Birmingham Collection.

1983 - Three Decades of Artists from ILEA schools, Royal Academy., London.

1984 - Print Club, Philadelphia, USA.

1984 - Pratt Graphics Centre, New York, USA.

1984 - 8th International Print Biennale, Bradford, UK.

1984 - Royal Academy, Summer Exhibition, London.

1985 - Royal Society of Painter Etchers and Engravers, London

1985 - Still Life - A New Life, Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, UK.

1985 - Still Life - A New Life, Travelling Exhibition.

1986 - 9th International Print Biennale, Bradford, UK.

1986 - Print Show, Angela Flowers Gallery, London.

1987 - Royal Society of Painter Etchers and Engravers, London.

1988 - Art in Bloomsbury, St George's Crypt, London.

1988 - Food for Thought, Ilkley, UK.

1988 - 20th Century Art Fair, Cumberland Hotel, London.

1988 - Royal Society of Painter Etchers and Engravers, London.

1989 - Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London.

1989 - Moscow and Leningrad Exhibition, Royal Society of Painter Etchers and Engravers, London.

1990 - Royal Society of Painter Etchers and Engravers, London.

1991 - Chelsea Arts Centennial Exhibition, Smith's Gallery, London.

1992 - Christmas Exhibition, Waterman's Gallery, London.

1993 - Royal Society of Painter Etcher and Engravers, London

1994 - National Print Exhibition, Mall Gallery, London.

1995 - Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers.

1995 - National Print Exhibition, Mall Gallery, London.

1995 - Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London.

1995 - Small is Beautiful, Flowers East, London.

1996 - Gateway Gallery, Shrewsbury, UK.

1996 - Absolut Secret, Royal Academy, London.

1996 - Small is Beautiful, Flowers East, London.

1997 - National Print Exhibition, Mall Gallery, London.

1997 - The Subjective Eye, Morley Gallery, London.

1997 - Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, Bankside Gallery, London.

1997 - Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London.

1997 - Small is Beautiful, Flowers East, London.

1998 - National Print Exhibition, Mall Gallery, London.

1998 - Contemporary Print Exhibition, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, Birmingham, UK.

1998 - Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, Bankside Gallery, London.

1998 - Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London.

1999 - National Print Exhibition, Mall Gallery, London.

1999 - Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London.

1999 - No Day Without a Line, Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers 1880 to 1990, Ashmolean, Oxford, UK.

2000 - Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, Bankside Gallery, London.

2001 - Wrexham Print International, Wrexham, UK.

2012 - 100 Prints, Flowers Gallery, London.


Publications

Fritz Eichenberg, The Art of the Print, [33] Royal Academy, Illustrated Catalogue, 1982 Carol Wax, The Mezzotint. [34] Merle Huntley, Art in Outline, [35] F. L. Alexander, South African Graphic Art, [36] Royal Academy, Illustrated Catalogue, 1995 Royal Academy, Illustrated Catalogue, 1997 Royal Academy, Illustrated Catalogue, 1998


References

  1. Jeremy Issacs, The Independent Newspaper, Obituaries, 14 January 2000
  2. Albert Werth, IN MEMORIAM; Leonard Marchant – Master of Mezzotint, Pretoria Art Museum, PAM Bulletin, Issue 11, April 2000, pp 20/21
  3. Mark Balakjian; Leonard Marchant – An appreciation, Printmaking Today, Volume 6, Number 1, 1997 Pgs 11/12
  4. Jeremy Issacs, The Independent Newspaper, Obituaries, 14 January 2000
  5. The Times Newspaper, Obituaries, 14 January 2000
  6. Denis Herbstein, Guardian Newspaper, Obituaries 17 Jan 2000
  7. Denis Herbstein, Guardian Newspaper, Obituaries, 17 Jan 2000
  8. Jeremy Issacs, The Independent Newspaper, Obituaries, 14 January 2000
  9. Liese Van Der Watt, VUKA, Vol 3, No1, 1998
  10. Royal Society of Painter Printmakers - Annual Exhibition catalogue Obituary - May-June 2000
  11. Liese Van Der Watt, VUKA, Vol 3, No1, 1998
  12. Mark Balakjian, Leonard Marchant - An Appreciation, Printmaking Today, Volume 6, Number 1, 1997 pp11/12
  13. The Times Newspaper, Obituaries, 15 Jan 2000.
  14. Anna Adair, Wrexham Print International 2001, Appreciation
  15. Darkness Visible, p5, Bulletin, Journal of Watercolour Society and Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, Exhibition Information, Spring 1998.
  16. Jeremy Issacs, The Independent Newspaper, Obituaries, 14 January 2000
  17. Jeremy Issacs, The Independent Newspaper, Obituaries, 14 January 2000
  18. Albert Werth, IN MEMORIAM; Leonard Marchant – Master of Mezzotint, Pretoria Art Museum, PAM Bulletin, Issue 11, April 2000, pp 20/21
  19. Mark Balakjian; Leonard Marchant – An appreciation, Printmaking Today, Volume 6, Number 1, 1997 Pgs 11/12
  20. Jeremy Issacs, The Independent Newspaper, Obituaries, 14 January 2000
  21. The Times Newspaper, Obituaries, 14 January 2000
  22. Denis Herbstein, Guardian Newspaper, Obituaries 17 Jan 2000
  23. Denis Herbstein, Guardian Newspaper, Obituaries, 17 Jan 2000
  24. Jeremy Issacs, The Independent Newspaper, Obituaries, 14 January 2000
  25. Liese Van Der Watt, VUKA, Vol 3, No1, 1998
  26. Royal Society of Painter Printmakers - Annual Exhibition catalogue Obituary - May-June 2000
  27. Liese Van Der Watt, VUKA, Vol 3, No1, 1998
  28. Mark Balakjian, Leonard Marchant - An Appreciation, Printmaking Today, Volume 6, Number 1, 1997 pp11/12
  29. The Times Newspaper, Obituaries, 15 Jan 2000.
  30. Anna Adair, Wrexham Print International 2001, Appreciation
  31. Darkness Visible, p5, Bulletin, Journal of Watercolour Society and Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, Exhibition Information, Spring 1998.
  32. Jeremy Issacs, The Independent Newspaper, Obituaries, 14 January 2000
  33. Thames and Hudson Ltd, UK ISBN 10 0500232539, 1976,
  34. Thames and Hudson Lted, UK, 1990
  35. Oxford University Press, South Africa, 1993, ISBN 0195709020
  36. Human and Rousseau, South Africa, 1974, ISBN-10 : 0798103299

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