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Etched in Memory:
The Elevated Art of J. Alphege Brewer
Drawn from the material at the jalphegebrewer.info website, this book is the first illustrated study of the life and work of J. Alphege Brewer (1881-1946), the early 20th-century British artist who made his fame producing large, color etchings of European cathedrals and other historical buildings damaged or threatened during WWI. Sixteen of these were listed in 1918 as additions to the holdings of the museum of the Royal United Service Institution, London, and described as "places and buildings mutilated by the Germans during the great European War." In both the United States and Great Britain, these etchings and reproductions of them were proudly hung on parlor walls in solidarity with the Allied cause and as a remembrance of the devastating cultural losses inflicted by the onslaught of war. Brewer's "à la poupée" technique, carried out in his studio workshop in Acton with the assistance of family members, required the plate to be painted entirely anew for each of the authorized 300-500 impressions. With the same "dab hand" at the end of his life, Brewer produced exquisite woodcuts of lakes, mountains, and other pastoral views. Chapters on Brewer's life story, techniques, and the artistic context for his war etchings are included, as well as a catalog of his known etchings.
From Amazon reviewers:
"Benjamin Dunham's short but informative account of Brewer's career is exhaustively researched, clearly written, and gorgeously produced, with attractive reproductions of many of the works alongside period photographs and documents associated with Brewer's marketing efforts.... Well worth the attention of anyone even mildly interested in charting the diverse currents that flowed through the pictorial arts in the first half of the 20th century."
"To my knowledge, this is the first time that information on this artist has been presented in one place, and in such a detailed and accessible format. This is an interesting and enjoyable read and will provide something for both the casual browser as well as the informed collector."
"As someone who appreciates work that demonstrates a mastery of the subject undertaken and the skill to present it in a way that anyone can understand and benefit from, I highly recommend it without hesitation!"
"Anyone interested in printmaking, history and art should consider this a must read. Truly an inspiring and informative book."
"This is a rewarding read and offers an easy but stimulating opportunity to savor the art of Brewer, the erudite and elegant narrative of Dunham, and the breadth of recent history."
"Brewer's etchings have unbelievable levels of detail, are a technical tour-de-force, and Dunham's well-researched descriptions bring them to life. The wartime chapter is particularly fascinating. Dunham has presented the art in the context of its time and somehow makes the destruction of WWI even more visceral... Masterfully done!"
“I hope this reaches a wide audience. It’s a fascinating story, wonderfully told.”
— George Gelles, former critic, The Washington Star
“The images of cathedrals and other buildings made on the eve of World War I are not only beautiful, but have significant documentary and historic value.”
— Laura M. Giles, Heather and Paul G. Haaga Jr., Class of 1970, Curator of Prints and Drawings, Princeton University Art Museum
"People interested in WWI-era art will enjoy every word.”
— Jeffrey B. Miller, author, WWI Crusaders and Yanks Behind the Lines
“A fascinating and informative study.”
— Morna O’Neill, Associate Professor of Art, Wake Forest University
"I wish more people took the time and care to share their knowledge with the public about lesser-known artists like Brewer, who obviously had a successful career and a generous nature.” — Marc Thomas Chabot, Marc Chabot Fine Arts, Southbury, Connecticut
" I discovered much about the period that was new to me. Ben Dunham's book deserves a place on your bookshelf alongside the books about the more fashionable artists.”
— Modern Printmakers blog