Friday, January 22, 2010

Quiz question

What's the use of a quiz question without a prize? What's the world coming to? Answers on a postcard, please.



Anyway - the question is: which icon of Englishness created this modernist copper engraving?

5 comments:

Philip Wilkinson said...

Crumbs, I'm stuck! It doesn't look like the kind of abstraction that John Piper went in for in the 1930s. The little pylon-like structure looks like the sort of thing Eric Ravilious might have put into a landscape, but it doesn't look like him either - it's not by his friend Edward Bawden, is it?

Neil said...

Well, I did hope this quiz would last until at least Tim joined in, but I have been rumbled - this is indeed the one and only (so far as I know) abstract print by Edward Bawden - quite extraordinary to me to realise he ever worked in this kind of style - and also it's such a bravura piece of engraving - an engraver's burin is tooled to plough a straight furrow, so to make it do these beautiful concentric circles is fancy work. Congratulations on an inspired guess. More to follow on Bawden in the next post.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Well, it was a guess. But I did think there was something Bawdenish about this print - quite what, I don't know. I look forward to reading more about Bawden soon.

Whatever happened to... said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence Neil! It's a stunning print - can you let us know the date and title? I think there may be a bit of Paul Nash in there somewhere and it's very reminiscent in style to some of the early pattern papers Bawden produced for Frank Pick and Christian Barman at London Underground whilst employed by the Curwen Press.

Neil said...

Tim, this copper engraving was published, with no title, in issue 6 of Signature: A Quadrimestrial of Typography and Graphic Arts in July 1937. Signature was edited by Oliver Simon, and printed and published at the Curwen Press. In his Catalogue Raisonné, Edward Bawden: Editioned Prints, Jeremy Greenwood lists this as MG.024 under the title Abstract Design for "Signature". Apparently 444 copies of this issue were sold, though where they have all got to is a mystery. You're quite right about the link with London Transport commissions - Greenwood illustrates a rejected design for a London Transport appointments diary in 1935 which has similar concentric circles, also in copper engraving. He also points out the reappearance to the right in my engraving of a "propeller" motif first seen in a page border design drawn by Bawden for Curwen in 1934.