Edward Bawden is revered in illustration circles as a versatile artist whose work has formed over time a visual identity for mid century Britain through evocative images of the countryside, buildings and a disappeared lifestyle epitomised by the English village of local shops, farmers fields and church spires.
Edward Bawden, March: Noon, 1936, Pencil on paper, The University of Manchester, The Whitworth, Photo: Image courtesy of the Whitworth, © The University of Manchester, ©Estate of Edward Bawden
The Bawden exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery covers all this, but also includes a lot of his book illustration work along with lesser known artworks. Bawden, who died in 1989, was a master print maker and there are some of his stunning large scale lino prints in limited colour palettes which create a deep atmosphere, especially Liverpool Street Station (1961) which glories in the soaring Victorian architecture.
Edward Bawden, Brighton Pier, 1958, Linocut on paper, Trustees of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery (The Higgins Bedford), © Estate of Edward Bawden
An entire section of the show is given to Bawden’s drawings as a war artist in the Middle East, and these include images of refugees and portaits of African and Morrocan soldiers and Iranian sheikhs. These are works I wasn’t aware of, and reveal a sensitive approach to portraiture (always including the space that the sitter is part of). It’s a shame these portraits are not more widely known as they reveal the faces of those not typically depicted in British art.
Edward Bawden, A Sergeant in the Police Force formed by the Italians, Watercolour, chalk and ink on paper, © IWM (Art. IWM ART LD 1791), © Estate of Edward Bawden
The exhibition closes 9 September, and is highly recommended to all those interested in amazing technical skills and beautiful and often intricate drawing.
Edward Bawden, Mount Pleasant Road, 1927, Copperplate engraving. Private Collection, © Estate of Edward Bawden
We’ve reviewed several books on Bawden:
Are You Sitting Comfortably? – review
Bawden, Ravilious and the artists of Great Bardfield – book review