A Dutch Mill Near Dordrecht by Howarth, 1909
A Dutch Mill Near Dordrecht by Albany E. Howarth, 1909 (Halftone reproduction after the original)
Windmills were originally made to mill grain, but have been adapted to a number of purposes throughout history. The earliest known use of a machine to harness wind power was Heron of Alexandria's windwheel in the first century. However, the first practical windmills were developed in Eastern Persia during the ninth century. These were horizontal in orientation and became widespread across the Middle East and into Asia. They were used for grinding grain or drawing up water. The vertical windmill first appeared in Northern Europe at the end of the twelfth century. Since wind direction is variable in Europe, they needed mills that could shift along with the direction of the wind. Post mills were the earliest type and remained the most common until the nineteenth century. In the thirteenth century, stone tower mills were developed allowing for a more stable source of energy. The smock mill was a later adaptation of the tower type and since it had a wooden body they were lighter and less expensive to produce. In the tower and smock variation only the cap, which contains the sails, moves allowing for mills to be taller and the sails longer to increase production.
Dordrecht is the oldest city in what is now South Holland in the Netherlands. It was granted city rights in 1220 by William I, Count of Holland. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it was a major market city trading primarily wine, wood, and cereals. In 1253, a Latin school was founded in Dordrecht and is the oldest gymnasium (secondary school) in the Netherlands. Dordrecht has been an island since 1421, when the Saint Elisabeth Flood swept through South Holland. The Union of Dordrecht, which was comprised of representatives from all of Holland's cities except Amsterdam, met in secret and denounced King Phillip II of Spain and appointed William of Orange as stadtholder and official leader of the Dutch revolt. It was the first important step toward securing independence from Spain.
Albany E. Howarth (1872-1936) was a largely self-taught English etcher. His father had wanted him to enter into business but Howarth wanted to be an artist. He got a job in the drawing offices of Armstrong Mitchell, later Armstrong Whitworth, but stayed only four years. Howarth then worked briefly as an illustrator for several papers and periodicals. This exposed him to the various different methods for printing and he began to experiment on his own. After reading Hamerton's book on etching, he became fascinated with the medium. He began teaching himself the technique and he sought the advice of Frederick Goulding (1842-1909), the leading etcher at the time. In 1910, Howarth was elected as an associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers, now the R. S. of Painter-Printmakers. He exhibited annually, with the exception of 1915, until 1920, after which he was expelled from the society over a dispute. His preferred technique involved using nitric acid on a copper plate, though he liked zinc better for drypoint etchings. Howarth would etch the deepest lines first and allow them multiple exposures as the finer lines were etched, to ensure they were bitten to the desired depth.
- Naomi Bean