The Society of Painter-Etchers (its original name) was founded by Francis Seymour Haden, in 1880, in reaction to the Royal Academy of Arts’ reluctance to exhibit etchings and engravings. In that year, the group’s inaugural exhibition at London’s Hanover Gallery included works by invited Royal Academicians and prominent overseas artists. Eight years and several exhibitions later, Queen Victoria granted the Society its royal prefix. Haden was the first President and he and his immediate successors – Frank Short, Malcolm Osborne and Robert Austin – led the Society until 1970, since when there have been seven further Presidents: Paul Drury, Harry Eccleston, Joseph Winkelman, David Carpanini, Anita Klein, Hilary Paynter and, currently, Bren Unwin.
The Society’s present home, Bankside Gallery, was opened by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1980. About this time, a change of title for the Society was mooted, with the aim of encouraging a process that had already begun: extending its range of print techniques beyond etching and engraving. The long process of modifying the royal charter led finally, in 1991, to the adoption of the title Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, thus opening up this historic Society to welcome and represent excellence in modern printmaking activity in all its diverse new forms.
- Sir Francis Seymour Haden PRE (1880-1910)
- Sir Frank Short PRE (1910-1938)
- Malcolm Osborne PRE (1938-1962)
- Robert Austin RA PRE (1962 -1970)
- Paul Drury PRE (1970-1975)
- Harry Eccleston OBE, PRE, RWS (1975-1989)
- Joseph Winkelman PRE (1989-1995)
- David Carpanini PRE, RWA (1995-2003)
- Anita Klein PRE (2003-2006)
- Hilary Paynter PRE, SWE (2006-2011)
- Dr Bren Unwin PhD, PRE, NSA (2011-)
Link to Full History Article at Printmaking Today.