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 Edward Bawden  (1903 - 1989)

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Lived/Active: England      Known for: painting, illustration, graphic art, furniture design, murals

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
The High Street, Great Bardfield, Essex
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Edward Bawden, CBE, RA (1903 - 1989) was a British painter, illustrator and graphic artist. He was also famous for his prints, book covers, posters, and garden metalwork furniture. During an interview, Edward Gorey mentioned that Bawden was one of his favorite artists, lamenting the fact that not many people remembered or knew about this fine artist.

Bawden was born in Braintree, Essex, and first studied at the Cambridge School of Art from 1919 to 1921.  This was followed in 1922 by a scholarship to the Royal College of Art* School of Design, where he took a diploma in illustration until 1925.  Importantly, here he met fellow student and future collaborator Eric Ravilious, both of whom were taught by the influential artist Paul Nash, who referred to them as "an extraordinary outbreak of talent".

By 1925 Bawden was working one day a week for the Curwen Press (as was Ravilious and their former tutor, Nash), producing illustrations for leading accounts such as London Transport, Westminster Bank, Twinings, Poole Potteries and Shell-Mex.

In 1928, Bawden was commissioned by Sir Joseph Duveen at the rate of £1 per day to create a mural for the Refectory at Morley College, London with Ravilious and Charles Mahoney. The mural was opened in 1930 by former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, at the time leader of the opposition, having ended his premiership in 1929.

In the early 1930s he was discovered by the famous Stuart Advertising Agency, owned by H. Stuart Menzies and Marcus Brumwell.  At this time Bawden produced some of his most humorous and innovative work for Fortnum & Mason and Imperial Airways.  It was also in this period that Bawden produced the tiles for the London Underground, which were exhibited at the International Building Trades Exhibition at Olympia in April 1928.

During the Second World War, Edward Bawden served as one of the official war artists for Britain. He made many evocative watercolor paintings recording the war effort in Iraq. His paintings show the unique life led by the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq, particularly their majestic dwellings made of reeds.

Bawden lived in Great Bardfield, Essex from the 1930s to 1970. While living at Bardfield he 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 abstract* painters.

In 1949 Bawden provided illustrations for the book London is London - A Selection of Prose and Verse by D. M. Low".

During the 1950s the Great Bardfield Artists organized a series of large 'open house' exhibitions which attracted national press attention. Positive reviews and the novelty of viewing art works in the artists own homes (including Bawden's Brick House) led to thousands visiting the remote village during the summer exhibitions of 1954, 1955 and 1958. As well as these shows the Great Bardfield Artists held several touring exhibitions of their work in 1957, 1958 and 1959.

After the death of his wife in 1970, Bawden moved to the nearby town of Saffron Walden, where he continued to work until his death. Bawden's work can be seen in many major collections and is shown regularly at the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden and the Bedford Museum & Art Gallery in Bedford.

Having briefly taught design and book illustration at Goldsmith's College from 1928-1931, Bawden then went on to teach at the Royal College of Art from 1930 - 1963 (minus the War years). In 1968, Bawden became a tutor at the Royal Academy* Schools and Senior Lecturer at Leicester College of Art and Design.

Among his numerous appointments and awards that came later in his career are[2]:
    •    1946 - Awarded CBE (Commander of the British Empire)
    •    1947 - Associate of the Royal Academy
    •    1949 - Appointed Royal Designer for Industry (RSA)
    •    1949/50 - Appointed guest instructor for the Summers of 1949/50 at the Banff School of Fine Art, Canada
    •    1951 - Appointed Trustee of the Tate Gallery (1951-1958)
    •    1956 - Elected Royal Academician
    •    1962 - Appointed Honorary Associate of Manchester College of Art
    •    1963 - Appointed Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art
    •    1964 - Awarded Silver Medal by the Society of Industrial Artists
    •    1970 - Received Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art
    •    1974 - Received Honorary Doctorate from Essex University
    •    1979 - Made Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers

    1.     "Bawden Chronology",Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Museum Retrieved on 2009-06-09.
    2.     a b c "Bawden Chronology"
    3.     Skipwith, Payton. "The Curwen Press: Illustrators against commercial ugliness",Apollo (magazine), 2008-01-01. Retrieved on 2009-06-09.


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