In the past two weeks I have posted about Edward Bawden and his home in the twilight of his life. This is the third and last of these posts.
The artists of Great Bardfield all reacted to their surroundings by making paintings or prints of the area that they lived, so when Edward Bawden moved to Saffron Walden in 1970, he naturally used local places in his artworks, from Bridge End Garden’s to the church.
Exhibition list from The Fine Art Society Ltd show 20/ii/1978 – 10/iii/1978.
One of the biggest tourist attractions to Saffron Walden and one of the most prominent buildings in East Anglia is Audley End house and its gardens. It also was very convenient being twenty minuets walk from Bawden’s house, even for an older man.
In 1973 Bawden made a large lino cut of Audley End, a complex task to complete, with the regimented architecture of the building it is one of the more technical linocuts Bawden completed.
Edward Bawden – Audley End House, 1973
The watercolours Bawden completed where many but show off the wonderful and complex landscape of the Audley End Park, it’s follies and the trees.
Edward Bawden – The Temple of Concord, Audley End, 1975
The art that Edward Bawden filled his home with were mostly the pictures of the friends he made during his life; from Paul Nash to his son Richard.
Some of these works can be seen from the photographs taken when Bawden died, but also from the many watercolours of his house in Saffron Walden as seen in last week’s post.
The Living Room, 2 Park Lane, Saffron Walden, 1985
This is a picture of the corridor and a cupboard full of glasses and pottery. Bawden’s wife Charlotte Epton studied pottery with the Leach’s in Cornwall so it is likely it is part of her collection. To the right there is a print of Kew by Bawden.
Edward Bawden – The Palmhouse, Kew Gardens, 1950
It was said Bawden’s wife Charlotte had a flair for decoration at Brick House but with his move to Saffron Walden after her death the house on Park Lane was decorated to his own tastes. Bawden used his reserve of Wallpaper stock to decorate many of the rooms in 2 Park Lane, Saffron Walden.
As shown with the various views of the sitting room in the photos and watercolours, the walls were lined with shelves of studio pottery and framed pictures.
In the photo above on the wall above the table in the centre is a large print by John Norris Wood ‘Country Garden Butterflies’ of a poise of flowers with butterflies around it. It turns out that within Edward’s lifetime there was a Eric Ravilious on the wall of a Harlequin but on his death Edward left it to Anne Ullman, Eric Ravilious’s daughter who later sold it to the Fry Gallery. ♠ When Bawden died and the Harlequin removed it was replaced with the John Norris Wood that Bawden much have also owned.
Eric Ravilious – Harlequin, 1928
This Ravilious watercolour was part of the preparatory work for the commission of a mural for the Refectory at Morley College, London.
To the left of that image at the top is a set of four framed wood engravings by Paul Nash from the Nonesuch Press book ‘Genesis’, 1924, printed at the Curwen Press. How Bawden came to own them is quoted below:
The Curwen Press used Bawden’s patterns for wallpapers and were the earliest designs printed from linocuts by Edward Bawden. Paul Nash offered him support at the Royal College and exchanged five of his engravings for five of Bawden’s wallpaper patterns. †
Below the four ‘Genesis’ wood engravings and an engraving of ‘The Bay’, 1923. Through the archway and the Hoya Carnosa, hanging below the light and above the chair is a print by Edward’s son Richard, of the Aldeburgh Martello Tower.
Paul Nash – The Bay, 1923
Paul Nash – Let the earth bring forth the creatures, 1924
John Norris Wood – Country Garden Butterflies
Richard Bawden – The Martello Tower, Aldeburgh
In the photograph above, framed on the wall is Edward’s large print of ‘The Pagoda, Kew Gardens’ looking bold with it’s bloody red roof is provides a strong colour scheme for the room and the Persian red carpets and would be opposite the print of ‘The Palmhouse’, as pictured above.
Edward Bawden – The Pagoda, Kew Gardens, 1963
Here in this room the walls are lined with the wallpaper Edward Bawden worked with John Aldridge on called ‘Grid and Cross / Waffle (Green)’, printed by Cole and Son Ltd.
The framed pictures are wood engravings by Eric Ravilious. These where for the 1933 Golden Houses Press publication of ‘The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta’ by Christopher Marlowe.
Eric Ravilious – Barabas in his Counting-house, 1933
This wood engraving was shown and for sale at the Society of Wood Engravers 14th show where the catalogue lists the print as ‘Wealthy Moore’.
Eric Ravilious – A charge, The cable cut, A cauldron discovered, 1933.
Edward Bawden – Grid and Cross & Waffle (Green), 1938
Edward Bawden – Cat among Pigeons, 1986
Pictured at the end of ‘Cat among Pigeons’ is the door to the bathroom and the stairwell to the ground floor. The pictures on the wall are a lithograph by Chagall and again, one of Bawden’s own prints. A small print of St Peter’s Basilica is in the bottom right corner of the photo. The wallpaper is ‘Wood Pigeon’ one of the Plaistow Wallpapers that was later printed by Cole and Son Ltd.
Marc Chagall – Donkey & the Eiffel Tower, 1954
Edward Bawden – Albert Bridge, 1966
Edward Bawden – Wood Pigeon, 1927
In the bedroom is the portrait of Edward Bawden that his friend Phyllis Dodd painted in 1929. Dodd would marry one of Bawden’s many biographers, Douglas Percy Bliss.
In 1929 she painted a likeness of Bawden sitting stiffly in his best suit and then she made portraits of Ravilious and later still his wife. ‡
Phyllis Dodd – Edward Bawden, 1929
In this room upon a large Victorian chest of drawers there are two oil lamps and a set of Staffordshire figurines, behind them is one of the rarer Bawden prints of ‘Grasses in a Jug’. The wallpaper is by Bawden, ‘Riviera’ from 1929.
Edward Bawden – Grasses in a Jug, 1967
Edward Bawden – Riviera, 1929
In this room with the Chest of Drawers of the photo above to the right we can see two more of Bawden’s own prints and to the right a Mary Fedden picture that looks like a nocturnal view of her print ‘The Lamp, 1972′.
In the centre the door is opening on to Bawden’s studio.
Edward Bawden – Kew Palace, London, 1983
Edward Bawden – The Royal Pavilion, Brighton, 1956
Here is a side view of the studio with picture racks and large artwork boards and tables to work from.
Edward Bawden – Roses and Rue, 1987
One of the most telling paintings is ‘Roses and Rue’. Bawden had no TV as he was profoundly deaf so most of his news came from copies of The Guardian. Painted in his studio it shows a tray of paints in the top left corner.
The Print Room – 2 Park Lane, Saffron Walden, 1989
Edward Bawden is best known as one of the Great Bardfield artists in the 1950s, but as the artists either divorced or moved away to other villages and towns, Edward and his wife Charlotte were the only important artists left in the village in the late 1960s, (other than John Aldridge). With health problems and old age, Bawden and his wife decided to move to Saffron Walden. Charlotte sadly died just before moving into 2 Park Lane, Saffron Walden, but Edward honoured the sale and moved alone in 1970.
With the blank canvas of a new house, Bawden set to work decorating the rooms with his own wallpapers and setting up the possessions brought from Brick House into this new home. A studio was built on the back of the property with large windows and a trap door for large works to enter the studio without going through the house. After ten years living at the property Bawden’s health became worse with old age.
For most of the year he was more house-bound than he had ever been and this forced him into new subject areas. In 1986 he began a series of watercolours which depicted his own rooms, his studio, his plants, his glowing oriental carpets, his gas fire, his cat Emma Nelson, and, eventually, this most private of men made his own face the subject of his art.
This focus on home and the cat was becoming obvious when one looks at the exhibition picture list for ‘The Private World of Edward Bawden’ by the Fine Art Society in 1987.
Works list at ‘The Private World of Edward Bawden’ Exhibition, 1987. †
The Tate now possess two of the pictures from this show, “Emma Nelson by the Fire” and “Roses and Rue”, both pictures with the cat in. In the magazine ‘House and Garden’ (December 1987) Edward Bawden gave an interview about his cat:
No cat will suffer from being lifted up and dropped into an empty space intended for her to occupy; that procedure led inevitably to Emma, tail up, walking away at once, so I had to wait patiently until Emma had enjoyed a good meal of Coley and was ready to choose her daily sleeping place, wherever it might be. I would then spring into action with a colour and colour. ‡
Edward Bawden – Emma Nelson by the Fire, 1987
When the Tate wrote to Richard Bawden for more information on the painting they had acquired (Emma Nelson by the Fire) in 1991 he responded with this letter:
Although the house is covered with his early wallpapers, yellowed by nineteen years of nicotine, his studio being an extension was painted brick and not alas the wallpaper known as Rustication [1938–9] … The nasty tartan fur lined cat ‘basket’ came from the local charity shop … The rug on the floor used to be in the bathroom at Brick House, Gt. Bardfield, bought by my mother on a trip to Portugal or elsewhere. The curtain draped over the armchair hung in the spare room at Gt. Bardfield, and I am fairly sure must have been designed by Marianne Straub who lived in the cottage directly across the road and who at the time, I mean the late fifties, was chief designer at Warners. The cushion, at a guess because there is not much showing, was probably covered by a piece of hand blocked cotton by Barron & Larcher who had a studio in Painswick until the outbreak of war. The gas fire I cannot help you with, only I think Edward has improved its design. ♠
The letter illustrates a lifetime of collecting and friendships in the possessions Bawden owned. In next week’s post I will elaborate more on this theme but I will leave you with some of the many images Bawden painted of his home and of his cat.
Edward Bawden: Cat and an Orchid, 1987
The Living Print Room – 2 Park Lane, Saffron Walden, 1989
Edward Bawden – Cat on Cushions. 1985
Edward Bawden – The Living Room, 1985 (Featured in the R.A. ‘85 Summer Exhibition)
The Living Room – 2 Park Lane, Saffron Walden, 1989
Edward Bawden – Cat on the Carpet, 1987
Edward Bawden – Bamboos and Garden Seat, 1979
Edward Bawden – Cat and Greenhouse, 1986
Edward Bawden – Cat Among Pigeons, 1986.
Edward Bawden – Two Chairs and a Cat, 1986
Edward Bawden – Rose and Shaving Mirror, 1987
Edward Bawden – Cat on A Pile of Blankets, 1985
Edward Bawden – Four Chairs and a Cat, 1987
Edward Bawden – Roses and Rue, 1987
Edward Bawden – Cat with Everlastings, 1987
Edward Bawden – Play With Me, 1983
The linocut on the table when finished and editioned was also called Play with Me, now famous for being a Cushion from the Fry Gallery.
Edward Bawden – Cap and Base, 1983
Bawden printed these designs onto ceramic tiles, presumably for himself.
Edward Bawden – Self-Portrait, 1986
Jorge Lewinski – Edward Bawden in his Studio, 1978.
Edward Bawden – Cat on a settee, 1987
Edward Bawden – Daffodils, 1988
Below is one of the last watercolours Bawden painted and left unfinished and the linocut also unfinished.
Edward Bawden – Daffodils, Unfinished, 1989
Edward Bawden – Poseidon Linocut, Unfinished 1989
Bawden was working on this linocut on November 21st 1989 before attending for lunch, where he died at table. ♥
† Fine Art Society, The Private World of Edward Bawden’ Exhibition Booklet, 6-30 April, 1987 ‡ House and Garden’ (December 1987) Edward Bawden ♠ Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions1986-88, London 1996. ♣ Malcolm Yorke – Edward Bawden and his Circle. ♥ Fry Gallery Label 2018