Henry Rayner (1902-57)

(Hewitt) Henry Rayner (1902-1957) was born in Australia and came to England in 1923 at the age of 21 and he would stay there for the rest of his life.He was trained famously at the Royal Academy of Art in London having won an award to study there..He was mainly a drypoint etcher and took great pride in being an artist of the people producing many works of everyday life particularly in London at prices the general public could afford.. He studied under the legendary Walter Sickert and quickly became his protegee and friend. He was also a bit of a rebel leading a strike at the RA amongst the students working there. Sickert and Rayner were well known in the London artistic circles of the 1920ís and 30ís before Sickert moved to Bath in 1934.Between 1925 and 1945 Rayner produced over 500 plates. His work has a characteristically charming impressionist viewpoint and really recrate the feeling in the subject matter.There are many institutions that hold examples of Rayner's prints. These include the V&A, the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Collection, as well as major galleries in Australia and New Zealand.His dry point etching of King George VI gained notoriety in 1939 as it was believed to be the first image ever produced of a member of the Royal family casually dressed and smoking. It was well received by the public and the Royal family touching the heart of Queen Mary herself who was given a copy by Henry Raynerís wife. It is believed that there are only a maximum 12 copies of the King George VI etching still in existence (as per Rayner leading expert Roger Staton) as the original etching was made using tin which only had a short exposure run. Records confirm that there is a copy in The Royal Collection (Queen Mary was captivated by the image and acquired one for her son) RCIN812691. There is a copy held at the Victoria & Albert Museum E808:1939 and a copy at The National Portrait Gallery NPGD9197.Whilst he did not gain the recognition he sought at the time his work is rapidly gaining prominence today and today are sought after. An excellent book was written by Roger Staton about Henry Rayner called ĎAn Australian Artist in Londoní and a site detailing more information just about Henry Rayner can be found at Rayner died far too early in 1957 at Ramsgate but he has left a legacy of life in London particularly in the 1920ís to 40ís which give a realism and unique sentiment to the age they were made.

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