One of Austin’s signature prints Girl on a Stairs might be seen as a pendant to the same sized image Evening which Austin produced in the early years of WW2. Both compositions, which evolve around solitary figures in at the bottom and top of a stair case, enveloped by shadows and silence, convey a sense of mystery. The setting of Evening was The Chapel at Burham Overy Staithe, (Norfolk) where Austin had his studio when not working in London. This is probably also the setting for Girl on Stairs
It is generally acknowledged that Austin was one of the greatest exponents of line engraving of the Twentieth century. Campbell Dodgson, keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, who compiled the standard reference work on Austins’ work, compared his work to that of Durer noting that Austin had ‘more than a touch of that master in him’ (Robert Austin, Twenty-One, 1930 Gallery).
Austin’s period of greatest acclaim was during the etching boom of the 1920s (which ended abruptly with the Wall Street Crash). Later works however, (for instance Girl by a gate,1930 and Empty Church, Concarneau, 1949,) demonstrate that Austin was still at the height of his powers long after his period of greatest acclaim.