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Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989)

Edward Bawden, CBE RA (10 March 1903 – 21 November 1989) was an English painter, illustrator and graphic artist, known for his prints, book covers and posters, amongst other things. Bawden taught at the Royal College of Art, where he had been a student, worked as a commercial artist and served as a war artist in World War II. He was admired by Edward Gorey, David Gentleman and other graphic artists, and his work and career is often associated with that of his contemporary Eric Ravilious.

Upon leaving school in 1919, Bawden attended Cambridge School of Art full-time from 1919 to 1921. There he became interested in calligraphy and in the work of Aubrey Beardsley, Richard Doyle, William Morris and other Victorians. This was followed in 1922 by a scholarship to the Royal College of Art School of Design in London, where he took a diploma in illustration until 1925. Here he met his fellow student and future collaborator Eric Ravilious; the pair were described by their teacher Paul Nash as “an extraordinary outbreak of talent”.

By 1930, Bawden was working one day a week for the Curwen Press, as was Ravilious and their former tutor, Nash, producing illustrations for leading companies at the time such as London Transport, Westminster Bank, Twinings, Poole Potteries, Shell-Mex & BP, the Folio Society, Chatto & Windus and Penguin Books. In the early 1930s he was discovered by the Stuart Advertising Agency, owned by H. Stuart Menzies and Marcus Brumwell. Around this time Bawden produced some of his most humorous and innovative work for Fortnum & Mason and Imperial Airways. He also worked for The Listener.

During World War II, Bawden served as an official war artist, first with the British army in France and then, following the army’s evacuation from there, in the Middle East. Already in France before World War II was declared, he recorded defences being prepared at Halluin, then witnessed the bombing of Armentières and the evacuation from Dunkirk. He was posted to North Africa as a War Office Artist on a full-time War Artists’ Advisory Committee contract. Bawden painted landscapes and portraits in Libya, Sudan, Cairo, Eritrea and Ethiopia, reaching Addis Ababa in May 1941. At the start of 1942 he travelled with Anthony Gross to Palestine and Lebanon.

Whilst living at Bardfield (Essex) from the 1930s to 1970, Bawden was an important member of the Great Bardfield Artists. This group of local artists were diverse in style but shared a love for figurative art, making the group distinct from the better known St Ives art community in Cornwall, who, after the war, were chiefly dominated by abstractionists.

In 1949, Bawden provided illustrations for the book London is London – A Selection of Prose and Verse by D. M. Low. Bawden completed a series of eleven murals for the First Class lounge of the P&O liner Oronsay, which was launched in 1951. The theme was the English pub and Bawden depicted traditional pub names, such as the Rose & Crown, in purely visual form in his design. For the Festival of Britain in 1951 he created a mural, English Country Life, that was displayed in the entrance of The Lion and the Unicorn Pavilion.

Bawden died at his home in Saffron Walden on 21 November 1989.

Above text edited from Wikipedia, where you can see more examples of Bawden’s work.