Skip to content


An image of Saeta in green by Earle Backen

Earle Backen

(Australia 01 Sep 1927 – 03 Oct 2005)

Saeta in green
Media category
Materials used
colour etching, aquatint on ivory wove paper
artist's proof

43.9 x 27.1 cm platemark; 58.7 x 46.5 cm sheet

Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r., pencil "Earle Backen ... '59".
Purchased 1960
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Earle Backen was born in Albury, NSW and grew up in Wagga Wagga. He studied at the Dattilo Rubbo Art School and at the Julian Ashton Art School under John Passmore in 1954. He was awarded the NSW Travelling Art Scholarship, which allowed him to study in London at the Slade School and Central School under Mervyn Peake and Keith Vaughan 1954-55. In 1956 he studied at La Grande Chaumière where he saw the work of the American abstract expressionists for the first time. After meeting friends at S W Hayter's Atelier 17 in Paris, he stayed on as a student for the next three years. Saeta in green utilises Hayter's methods, rolling on colour from a single plate at different levels and viscosities of ink; it was printed by the artist in Paris.

Backen returned to Sydney in 1959; his prints of the early 1960s reflect the work he had been doing in Paris, although he continued to experiment with additional techniques, including photo-etching. He was a foundation member of the Sydney Printmakers group. Three of his colour etchings were included in the Gallery's touring 'Australian Print survey' of 1963-64. In 1964 he began teaching at the National Art School (East Sydney Technical College) where he set up etching classes and later at the Alexander Mackie College, Sydney. He retired from teaching in 1987 but had stopped making prints in the late 1970s, concentrating on painting in oil and watercolour.

Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, 'Australian prints from the Gallery's collection', AGNSW, 1998

Bibliography (2)

Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, Australian prints from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1998, 88, 89 (colour illus.). 73

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'Earle Backen in focus: an artist who deserves to be more widely known', pg. 25-27, Newtown, Oct 2005, 27 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (3)

Purchases and Acquisitions for 1960, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Mar 1961–23 Apr 1961

Religious art: from the permanent collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 1961–20 Aug 1961

Australian prints from the Gallery's collection (1998-1999), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Nov 1998–07 Feb 1999