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Jessie Rendle Furber: Painter and Printmaker

Photograph of Jessie Rendle Furber
Jessie Rendle Furber

Jessie Furber was born early January 1880 in Whitchurch at the family home, Copyhold Houses, 14 Watergate Street. Her father’s occupation at this time was that of a commercial teacher, having a small private school in the town at 26 Barkhill.

She was the fourth of five children, having two elder sisters and an elder brother. Two years after Jessie’s birth another brother was born.

Her father Robert later became the editor of the Whitchurch Herald, the local newspaper that had been established in 1869.

Jessie trained at Kensington School of Art in London and exhibited between 1908 and 1938. She is recorded as exhibiting at the Royal Academy and the Walker Art Gallery.

She was a specialist in mezzotints. This was a printmaking process where tones and half-tones were produced by roughening the metal plates with thousands of little dots. This was done using a metal tool with small teeth called a ‘rocker’. Because the pits in the plate are not deep the pressure of the press quickly smoothes them out. Therefore only a small number of top-quality impressions can be created.

The British Museum holds four of her prints. These titles include Scene in Normandy, “a landscape with a view along track with cart at centre, two figures in foreground, sheep in field beyond” and H.R.H. Princess Elizabeth, “a portrait of young princess seated holding basket of flowers, three-quarter length, wearing white dress with pale blue sash”. The third and fourth prints are both entitled Mrs Davenport, “a portrait of young woman wearing hat and fur-trimmed cloak, almost half-length to left, face three-quarter to left, one being in colour and the other in monochrome”. Whitchurch Heritage Centre holds a framed print of the colour portrait of Mrs Davenport as well as other smaller works by the artist.

In 1938 she presented four letters written by Sir Edward German to her father Robert, to the British Library.

Jessie Rendle Furber died in 1966 and her ashes were scattered in Whitchurch Graveyard.