Born in Leeds, Sutcliffe was the son of Thomas Sutcliffe, an artist, lecturer and art critic who in 1870 moved the family to Whitby, a seaside town in Yorkshire, northern England. After his father died the following year and being faced with providing for the family, he devoted himself to being a photographer. Whitby was a thriving tourist destination and Sutcliffe was able to establish a successful portrait studio. Yet it was photographing the workers on the docks and the daily life of the town that inspired him. Sutcliffe was included in numerous exhibitions both in England and internationally and in 1935 was made an Honorary Fellow of The Royal Photographic Society.
Sun Artist was the first publication in England to represent ‘the artistic position of photography’. The Journal is a significant example of photogravure in the history of the photographically illustrated book. Sun Artists was published in eight parts between October 1889 and July 1891. Each Issue was devoted to the work of a single British photographer, illustrated by four hand-pulled photogravures, together with an introductory descriptive essay. Particular care was taken by the publisher of Sun Artists to identify the individuals who prepared the photogravures for publication, all leading exponents of photogravure at the time. Mr Dawson of the Typographic Etching Company, himself an acclaimed photographer, made the etchings for Issue 1. Mr Cameron Swan of Messrs Annan and Swan made those for Issues 2, 3, and 4 while the etchings for Issues 5-8 were made by Mr W.L. Colls. (Hannavy V2)
These exceptional issues highlight those men and women who best express the period’s rich Pictorialist dialogue between painting and photography, the rise of the Secession Movement, and a turning point "in the ways photographs were made for the pages of books" (Truthful Lens, 41) – namely in the photogravure process of "printing photographs from an etched copper plate" -as seen in these 32 superb hand-pulled gravures (Harker, 168).
The photographers included are: J. Gale (essay by (George Davison); H.P. Robinson (essay by Andrew Pringle); J.B.B. Wellington (essay by Graham Balfour); Lydell Sawyer (essay by Rev. F.C. Lambert); Julia M. Cameron (essay by P.H. Emerson); B. Gay Wilkinson (essay by Rev. F.C. Lambert); F.W.H. Myers (essay by John Addington Symonds); and Frank Sutcliffe (essay by Charles N. Armfield). Sun Artists was issued in two states, a regular edition and an edition of 100 numbered copies on India proof paper, with the photogravures signed in pencil by the artists, with the exception of Julia Margaret Cameron who had already died.
Gernsheim, Helmut. Creative Photography. Aesthetic Trends 1839-1960. [with Illustrations.]. London: Faber & Faber, 1962. p. 120
McCaully – History of Photography "Writing Photography’s History before Newhall " v 21 n 2 1997
Harker, Margaret. The Linked Ring: the Secession Movement in Photography in Britain, 1892-1910. London: Heinemann, 1979. Print.
Hannavy John. 2008. Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography. New York NY: Routledge.
Gernsheim, Helmut. The History of Photography: The Age of Collodion. London: Thames and Hudson, 1989. p.44
Goldschmidt Lucien Weston J Naef and Grolier Club. 1980. The Truthful Lens : A Survey of the Photographically Illustrated Book 1844-1914. 1st ed. New York: Grolier Club
Weaver, Mike. British Photography in the Nineteenth Century: The Fine Art Tradition. Cambridge [United States: University Press, 1989. p. 157-8