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 Nathaniel Sparks  (1880 - 1957)

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Lived/Active: England      Known for: etching-architecture

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Nathaniel Sparks was born on 18 Jun 1880 in Bristol, England, the second son of Nathaniel Sparks Sr, a violin restorer.  He was educated privately until the age of 10 when he won a scholarship to The Bristol College of Art and Science, where he came under the tutelage of R Bush, ARE.  Another scholarship brought him, aged 20, to the Royal College of Art (RCA), London, where Frank Short, President of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers (RE), was Head of the Engraving School.
 
Whilst studying, he was commissioned by James McNeill Whistler to pull (print) his `Venice Set', and in 1905 he received a Diploma in Decorative Painting from the Royal Academy and was made an Associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers (ARE).

The year 1906 saw the first of a long line of annual exhibits at both the Royal Academy (RA) and the RE.  In 1909, he was elected a Fellow of the RE and won a Gold Medal for Outstanding Artwork.
 
During the World War 1, he was employed making gauges for the munitions factories, engraving the fine calibration required for accurate machining.  Following the end of the War, the rise of photography led to a decline in the demand for the engravers' skills.  Sparks continued to produce prints and watercolours, but faded into old age and obscurity.

His printing press was blown up by a German bomb in 1940.  He died in Somerton, Somerset in 29 August 1957.
 

Sources include:
Records of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers comprising:
 
Council minutes rules and regulations 1888-1927
 
Bankside Gallery: SPARKS, Nathaniel (1880-1957)

Papers of Nathaniel Sparks including letters to Sparks from Alfred Bentley, artist and drypoint engraver, 1916-1917, with 2 photographs; and letters
 

Written and submitted October 2005 by Annette Nolan:  "I researched this artist Nathanial Sparks through documents from the New York Library.  .   .  I love his detailed work.

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