Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Haden, Francis Seymour

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HADEN, Sir FRANCIS SEYMOUR (1818–1910), etcher and surgeon, the son of Charles Thomas Haden, M.D. (1786–1824), was born at 62 Sloane Street on 16 Sept. 1818. A biographical notice of his father by Dr. Thomas Alcock was prefixed to his work, 'Practical Observations on the Management and Diseases of Children,' published posthumously in 1827. His mother, Emma, was daughter of Samuel Harrison [q. v.], the vocalist, and was herself an excellent musician.

Haden received his general education at Derby School, Christ's Hospital, and University College, London, and continued his professional studies in the medical schools of the Sorbonne, Paris, and at Grenoble, where he acted as prosecteur in 1839, and, later, lecturer on surgical anatomy at the military hospital. In 1842 he became a member, and in 1857 a fellow, of the Royal College of Surgeons. From 1851 to 1867 he was honorary surgeon to the Department of Science and Art. He had settled in private practice at 62 Sloane Street in 1847, moving in 1878 to 38 Hertford Street, Mayfair. In addition to the labours of a large private practice, he found time for much public work in relation to surgical science, serving on the juries of the International Exhibitions of 1851 and 1862, and contributing in this capacity in 1862 an exhaustive report, remarkable for its championship of the operation of ovariotomy. He was consulting surgeon to the Chapel Royal, a vice-president of the obstetrical society of London, and one of the principal movers in the foundation of the Royal Hospital for Incurables in 1850. Throughout his life he maintained a vigorous campaign against cremation, as well as against certain abuses which had become more or less inseparable from the old-fashioned methods of burial, advocating a natural 'earth to earth' burial, which he effected by his invention of a papier-mâché coffin. He published on the subject several pamphlets, 'The Disposal of the Dead,' 'A Protest against Cremation,' 'Earth to Earth' (1875), and 'Cremation an Incentive to Crime' (2nd edit. 1892). Among his fellow practitioners he was noted for an instinctive power of diagnosis, due largely to a disciplined sense of vision. Much of his spare time in the evenings while a student in Paris was spent in the art schools, and quite apart from his purely artistic inclination he was always a staunch advocate of the use of drawing in training the hand and eye of the surgeon.

Haden sought relaxation from his professional work of surgeon, which he pursued till 1887, in the art and study of etching. His etched work, although technically that of an amateur, is the chief memorial of his life. Except for a few plates after Turner, and some family portraits after Wright of Derby, his work is entirely original. It includes a few portraits and figure studies, but is chiefly devoted to landscape. Here he was an artist of great truth and keenness of vision, and his best work shows a real sense of style, a true appreciation of the value of line, and a thorough command of an eminently virile technique. Most of his etchings, which number two hundred and fifty in all (Nos. 66 and 57 in Dr. Harrington's catalogue are in reality different states of a single plate), were done during the years of his greatest professional activity. He was not only assiduous in drawing and etching when in the country, but even on his professional rounds he was seldom without a plate in his pocket or in the carriage, ready to use the etching needle to record his impressions as another would a note-book.

Six of his plates, the records of an Italian journey, date as early as 1843–4, but there was an interval of fourteen years before he took up etching again in 1858. By that time Haden had come into close relations with James Abbott McNeill Whistler [q. v. Suppl. II], whose half-sister Dasha Delano Whistler, Haden married on 16 Oct. 1847. The etchings of Whistler and Haden bear traces of a mutual influence which is well exemplified in portraits by both (Harrington, No. 9; Wedmore, No. 25) of Lady Haden reading by lamplight. The two etchings were done on the same evening in 1858, the year in which Whistler published the thirteen prints of the 'French set.'

One half of Haden's etchings were produced in the decade succeeding 1859, sixty-eight being done in the two years 1864–5 alone. Then in 1877, when he was staying at Newton Manor with Sir John Charles Robinson, and afterwards travelling with Robinson in Spain, he completed his record number for one year, etching thirty-nine plates. Between 1859 and 1887 he was intermittently regular in his pastime, two years being the longest interval that he allowed to pass without etching a plate. After 1887 no plate is recorded until 1896, and in the next three years, 1896-8, he did eighteen plates, including a considerable number of mezzotints, a process which he chiefly practised at this late period of his activity. His last plate, a sketch of Woodcote Park, done on a pewter plate from the artist's bedroom window, is dated 1901.

Except for the twenty-five etchings which appeared in Paris under the title 'Études à l'eau-forte' in a portfolio with text by Philippe Burty (1865–6), nearly all Haden's etcliings were put into commerce separately by the artist. Pieces of capital importance in the sale-room are the 'Thames Fishermen' (Harrington, No. 11); 'By-road in Tipperary' (ib. No. 30); the larger 'Shere Mill Pond' (ib. No. 38); 'Sunset in Ireland' (ib. No. 51); 'La Belle Anglaise' {ib. No. 90); the 'River in Ireland' (ib. No. 91), and, most popular of all, the 'Breaking up of the Agamemnon' (ib. No. 145), a subject repeated in a later plate (ib. No. 229). But these pièces capitales are by no means the best of his work, which is as often found in the plates of less rarity and value. Special praise is due to the series of dry-points done in 1877 near Swanage, e.g. 'Windmill Hill,' No. 1 (H. No. 163); and for breadth and vigour of style in pure etching 'Sawley Abbey' (ib. No. 148) ; 'By Inveroran' (ib. No. 149); the 'Inn, Purfleet' (ib. No. 139) ; the ' Easex Farm' (ib. No. 155) ; and the 'Boat House' (ib. No. 156). Haden's practical services to British etching include the foundation in 1880 of the Society (now the Royal Society) of Painter-Etchers, whose president he remained until his death. His public service was rewarded in 1894 by a knighthood, and his distinction recognised abroad by honorary membership of the Institut de France in 1905, the Academic des Beaux Arts, and the Societe des Artistes Français. He was elected a member of the Athenæum in 1891 under Rule II. Among the medals awarded him at various times for etching were Grands Prix at the Expositions Universelles at Paris in 1889 and 1900. He exhibited etchings in the Royal Academy from 1860 to 1885, using the pseudonym of H. Dean in the exhibitions of 1860 to 1864. He also produced a large number of landscape drawings (now preserved in the collections of Mr. F. ScArmour Haden, Dr. I H. N. Harrington, tho Victoria and Albert Museum, and elsewhere), some of the earliest being in water-colour, but the majority executed in black chalk, characterised by great breadth and vigour of handling; he received a medal for some exhibited at the International Exhibition, Chicago, 1893. Most of Haden's etchings were done direct on the copper without the aid of preliminary studies, but drawings which were used as studies for twenty-seven etchings are known.

The chief collections of his etchings are in the British Museum, the Avery collection in the New York Public Library, the Allbright Art Gallery, Buffalo, and the private collections of Dr. H. N. Harrington (who was one of Haden's executors) and Mr. Harris B. Dick of New York. Special exhibitions of his etchings were held by the Fine Art Society (1878–9), at the Corporation Art Gallery, Derby (1886), by the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers (1889), Wunderlich & Co.. New York (1890), P. & D. 'Colnaghi (1901), F. Keppel & Co., New York (1901, 1903, 1904, 1906, 1908–9), Grolier Club, New York (1902), at the Salon d'Automne. Paris (1907), by Obach & Co., London (1907), T. & R. Annan & Co., Glasgow (1910), Ernest Brown & PhilHps, Leicester Galleries (1911, Dr. H. N. Harrington's collection, with his valuable preface to the catalogue).

As a critic and writer on art, Haden will be chiefly remembered as a pioneer of the scientific criticism of Rembrandt's etchings (of which he had a considerable collection). He was largely responsible for the Rembrandt exhibition at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1879, and his introductory remarks to the catalogue gave the chief impetus to the criticism that has divided so much school work from the master's own etching. In addition to this introduction (published separately in 1879 as 'The Etched Work of Rembrandt'; French trans. 1880), his most valuable publications on art include 'About Etching' (1879; 3rd edit. 1581), 'The Relative Claims of Etching and Engraving to rank as Fine Arts and to be represented as such in the Royal Academy' (1883), 'The Art of the Painter- Etchers' (1890), 'The Royal Society of Painter-Etchers' (1891) (this and the preceding reprinted from the 'Nineteenth Century'), 'The Etched Work of Rembrandt, True and False' (a lecture, 1895), his 'Presidential Address to the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers, 1901' (1902).

On retiring from his London practice in 1887 Haden lived in the neighbourhood of Alresford, Hampshire. From 1888 he resided at Woodcote Manor, an old Elizabethan house, where he died on 1 June 1910. Lady Haden died in 1908. By her he had one daughter and three sons, his eldest son, Francis Seymour, C.M.G., being distinguished in the colonial service in South Africa.

There are two painted portraits of Haden, both done by Jacomb Hood in 1892, one being in the possession of his son, Mr. F. Seymour Haden, the other belonging to the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers. There is a portrait drawing by Alphonse Legros (done about 1883, and once in the possession of Messrs. Keppel of New York). His portrait was etched by himself (3 plates), L. Flameng (1875), L. Lacretelle (1878), W. Strang (1883), H. von Herkomer (2 plates, 1892), and Percy Thomas (1900); it was engraved by C. W. Sherborn (1880), and was mezzotinted by A. Legros (1881), G. Robinson (1887), and Sir Frank Short (1911, after the Painter-Etchers' portrait by Jacomb Hood).

[H. N. Harrington, Descriptive Catalogue, 1910 (including a complete series of reproductions of the etchings); The Times, 2 June 1910; information supplied by his son, Mr. Francis Seymour Haden.]

A. M. H.