Mary Ellen Edwards – A Victorian Woman Illustrator

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Mary Ellen Edwards (later Mrs Freer, later Mrs Staples) by Unknown photographer, albumen carte-de-visite with black masking paint, 1860s, © National Portrait Gallery, London

Illustrator Mary Ellen Edwards was born to Mary (née Johnson, c.1809-1898) and Downes Edwards (c. 1805-1882) on the 6th November 1838 on her father’s farm in Surbiton just outside London. The family had nine children of which two died in infancy. The Edwards moved frequently. Her father was an engineer and inventor and had by 1848 enough funds to built a family residence, Ravenscliffe in Douglas on the Isle of Man. Eventually they settled in London and lived there at various addresses in fashionable parts of town such as Pimlico, South Kensington and Chelsea.

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7. German Talk, 06/02/2019, 5pm, School of Art

netsuke iiiWhen: 6th February 2019

Time: 5pm – 6pm

Where: School of Art, Room 206

Topic(s): Karen’s Cabinet of Curiosities

For more information about the ‘German Talks’ and how to find us:

7. german talk flyer – karen’s cabinet of curiosities – 6. february 2019

‘Travelling Through: Landscapes/Landmarks/Legacies’, School of Art Gallery, 12/10/2018 – 8/2/2019

‘Platform Two’, Steve Whitehead, 1985, oil and alkyd on canvas

Drawn from the School of Art’s extensive collection, Travelling Through traverses five centuries of visual culture ranging from sublime and picturesque landscapes to nineteenth-century travel photographs, twentieth-century London Underground posters and contemporary responses to our environment in a variety of media.

The exhibition, curated by Dr Harry Heuser, explores relationships between tourism and landscape art, between the consumption of signposted sights and the production of personal insights, between the fleeting experience of our journeys and the carbon footprint we leave behind.

 

 

5. German Talk, 19th September 2018, School of Art

Powell and German Culture StencilWhen: 19th September 2018

Time: 5pm – 6pm

Where: School of Art, room 206

Topic: ‘Powell & German Culture’

For more information about the German Talks and how to find us:

5. German Talk Powell and German Culture September 2018

‘Visual Theology 1: Transformative Looking Between the Visual Arts and Christian Doctrine (1850– Now)’

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Professor John Harvey will be keynote speaker at ‘Visual Theology 1: Transformative Looking Between the Visual Arts and Christian Doctrine (1850– Now)’, 19-20 October 2018, The Palace, Chichester, Sussex

For more information: http://www.visualtheology.org.uk

Joseph Wolf – “The best all-round animal painter that ever lived.”

Joseph Wolf, Lance Chalkin, 1890, the Zoological Society of London (Source: Wikipedia)
Joseph Wolf, Lance Chalkin, 1890, the Zoological Society of London (Source: Wikipedia)

Joseph (Mathias) Wolf was born on the 22nd January 1820 in the little village of Mörz, near Koblenz, Germany. His father, Anton Wolf (1788-1859) was a farmer and headman of the village. As a boy, Wolf loved spending time outdoors, observing and sketching the local wildlife. Sometimes, he would shoot specimens to dissect them at home in order to achieve a better understanding of their anatomy, plumage or fur. He would also capture live birds and mammals to draw them. He built special traps to catch large birds of prey without harming them. His obsession, apparently, earned him the unflattering nickname ‘bird fool’ from his father. Watching wildlife became a lifelong passion and, although he killed some for study, he abhorred the mindless slaughter of animals that many Victorians regarded as a ‘manly’ pastime and sport. According to his biographer and friend Alfred Herbert Palmer (1853-1931), son of artist Samuel Palmer (1805-81), Wolf accused these ‘sportsmen’ of having “no desire to know about a thing. Their only desire is to kill it.” He also called man “the most destructive and carnivorous animal in the world.”

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‘To hell with nature!’ A Reappraisal of Charles Tunnicliffe Prints – at the School of Art Gallery, 12/02/-16/03/2018

TunnicliffePrintsPoster_small‘To hell with nature!’ – A Reappraisal of Charles Tunnicliffe Prints

Painter-printmaker Charles Tunnicliffe (1901–1979) grew up on a farm near Macclesfield in Cheshire. A scholarship enabled him to study at the Royal College of Art in London. Soon after his studies, Tunnicliffe gained a reputation as an etcher of farming subjects. Today, he is widely regarded as Britain’s foremost twentieth-century wildlife artist.

Towards the end of a career spanning six decades, Tunnicliffe was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. In an interview published in the Society’s magazine, Tunnicliffe stated:

‘I have shocked quite a lot of people by saying ‘To hell with nature!’ Nature is made to be used, not to be dictator, as far as the dyed-in-the-wool artist is concerned.’

Tunnicliffe’s exclamation expresses the frustration of an artist whose pictures are often judged on the strength of their fidelity to nature. Instead, Tunnicliffe’s prints show us nature transformed by culture and outdone by art. They demonstrate their maker’s knowledge of art history, his love of design, and the need to tell his own story.

Printmaking earned Tunnicliffe his Royal Academy of Arts membership in 1954. By then, he rarely produced fine art prints. For decades, Tunnicliffe’s work in various media appeared in magazines, on calendars and biscuit tins.

The stock market crash of 1929 had made it necessary for Tunnicliffe to rethink his career. Turning from etching to wood engraving, he became a prolific illustrator. His first project was Tarka the Otter.

Anglesey was no retreat for Tunnicliffe. Working on commission, he created colourful paintings he described as ‘decorations for modern rooms.’ He also continued to turn out mass-reproduced designs that promoted anything from pesticides to the Midland Bank.

Since the mid-1930s, Tunnicliffe’s work has been appreciated mainly second-hand. Until last year, when Robert Meyrick and I put together a catalogue raisonné of his etchings and wood engravings, Tunnicliffe never had a printmaking exhibition at the Royal Academy.

For some of his early prints, no contemporary impressions are known to exist. The plates were proofed by School of Art printmaker Andrew Baldwin.

Tunnicliffe’s career does not fit into the narrative of Modernism. It is a product of modernity. In his work, at least, he never said ‘to hell’ with culture. Pragmatic yet passionate, he made images to make a living.

Harry Heuser, exhibition curator

Curatorial team: Phil Garratt, Neil Holland, Robert Meyrick, Karen Westendorf