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Monday 23 January 2023

Frank Lewis Emanuel’s etching, “J'auld Brig o'Dumfries”, c1900

Frank Lewis Emanuel (1865–1948)

“J'auld Brig o'Dumfries”, c1900 (BM 1880–1920), a proof-state impression that is pencil-signed and annotated with a proposal for cutting the plate. I understand that this bridge is the oldest in Scotland and is commonly called the “Devorgilla Bridge”. Although there has been a succession of bridges built on the same site—a ford across the River Nith that is slightly south of the centre of town in Dumfries in the south-west of Scotland—the first Devorgilla Bridge “was built around 1270 by the Lady Dervorgilla of Galloway” (see 

Etching with plate tone and retroussage work—a technique employed when wiping the still wet plate to allow ink to “spill” over the lines—on fine cream wove paper pencil-signed by the artist at lower right and pencil annotated (presumably by the artist) at lower left: “Could look better with the bottom third/ cut off to plate./ […]/ [Or else the?] sky cut off to a level just/ above the bridge.” There may also be a pale brown ink inscription along the upper edge of the sheet, but it is too faded to read—if it is a line of writing!

Size: (sheet) 29 x 23 cm; (plate) 24.9 x 20 cm.

The British Museum offers the following description of this print: “River view, with low wide cascades in the foreground, running down from under bridge in the right middle distance, houses along the left river bank, church tower in the background. Etching” (

Condition: a very richly inked artist’s proof that to my eye suggests an initial impression based on the lack of finesse in the wiping of the plate edges (cf. the BM’s copy [inv. no. 1920,0213.7]) and the annotations about reducing the plate size. The sheet is slightly grubby—again suggesting an artist’s initial impression that has been well handled/examined—but with no tears, holes, folds or significant stains.

I am selling this exceptionally rare proof-state etching signed and annotated in pencil with a proposal to cut the plate (i.e., reduce its size), for AU$366 (currently US$257.23/EUR236.52/GBP207.81 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world, but not (of course) any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries.

If you are interested in purchasing this moody etching of turbulent river currents flowing past the Devorgilla Bridge—the oldest bridge in Scotland—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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