Monk, William (1863 -1937)

William Monk R.E. (1863-1937) was one of the most significant artists to be born in Chester. He was a highly respected figure in the British Etching Revival, a movement which saw the rebirth of etching as an artistically creative form of printmaking. His prints celebrate a vision of England which ranges from the quaint corners of picturesque Chester, through the age-old tradition of historic colleges, to the grandeur and vitality of metropolitan London.

William Monk was the son of the gunmaker William Henry Monk, whose business was in Foregate Street and continues today in Queen Street. He attended Chester School of Art and had a studio in Eastgate Row North. In 1887-8 Monk studied at the Antwerp Academy in Belgium, where he first started to etch. In 1888 he moved to a studio at Waterside Lodge, Barrell Well Hill, in the Chester suburb of Boughton. In 1892 Monk moved to London, where he subsequently spent the great part of his working life before returning to Chester in 1933.

Monk became an Associate of the Society of Painter-Etchers (now the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers) in 1894 and a full member in 1899. In 1902 he launched the Calendarium Londinense or the London Almanack, known to print collectors as ‘Monk’s Calendar’, and etched every edition up to 1938. Monk was one of the earliest members of the Society of Graver-Printers in Colour, founded in 1909, and was its Vice-President at the time of his death.

Examples of his work can be found in the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Imperial War Museum. He exhibited at the Royal Academy. In 2013 the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, held an exhibition of his work: 'A Vision of England: Etchings by William Monk'.

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