Graphical version

Bankside Gallery

BAWDEN, Edward (1903-1989)


Reference code(s): GB 1744 BAWDEN

Held at: Bankside Gallery

Title: BAWDEN, Edward (1903-1989)

Date(s): 1920s-1980s

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 14 boxes and 5 scrapbooks

Name of creator(s): BAWDEN | Edward | 1903-1989 | painter and designer


Administrative/Biographical history:

Edward Bawden was born in Braintree, Essex in 1903. He was educated at Braintree High School, the Friends' School in Saffron Walden, Cambridge School of Art. From 1922-1925, he studied under Paul Nash at the Royal College of Art (RCA), and was a contemporary student and friend of Eric Ravilious and Douglas Percy Bliss. Bawden continued to study at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, and worked as tutor in the School of Graphic Design at the RCA, as well as teaching at the RA Schools and Goldsmiths' College. He exhibited watercolours at the St George's Gallery, 1927, and held his first on-artist show at the Zwemmer Gallery in 1934. In 1925 he was commissioned by Harold Curwen to illustrate a booklet, Pottery making in Poole, and together with Ravilious was designing patterned paper, borders and fleurons for Curwen Press. From 1928-50, he illustrated a number of other publications. Curwen became his friend, sponsor and teacher, and encouraged him to draw directly on the stone. In 1947, he illustrated The Arabs, for the Puffin Picture Book series, published by Penguin.

As an official war artist from 1940-1945, he was sent on a number of expeditions to the Middle East and other sectors, finally visiting Italy. He considered this period as the time when he "really learned to draw". During 1949 and 1950 he visited Canada as a guest instructor at Banff School of Fine Arts, Alberta.

He was a most skilful artist in black and white and colour, using several techniques in his work, including woodcuts, line drawing, linocutting and auto-lithography. As well as illustrating many books and book jackets, he painted in watercolour and gouache, painted a number of successful murals, designed wallpaper and ceramic wall tiles, produced linocut prints and did commercial work, including poster designs.

His work is represented in the Tate Gallery, London, and by water-colour drawings in several London, Dominion and provincial galleries; exhibitions at: Leicester Galleries, 1938, 1949, 1952; Zwemmer Gallery, 1934, 1963; Fine Art Society, 1968, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1987, 1989; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1978; Imperial War Museum, 1983; V&A, 1988, 1989; retrospective touring exhibition, 1988-1989.

As printmaker and graphic designer, he designed and cut blocks for a series of wallpapers printed by Messrs Cole & Son, and painted mural decorations for the SS Orcades and SS Oronsay, also for Lion and Unicorn Pavilion on South Bank site of Festival of Britain.

In 1932 he married Charlotte Epton of Lincoln (died 1970). Bawden died on 21 November 1989.

He held the positions of Trustee of Tate Gallery, 1951-1958, Honorary Dr RCA; DUniv Essex; Honorary RE, RWS. He was awarded CBE 1946; RA 1956 (ARA 1947); RDI 1949.

Books written and illustrated: Hold fast by your teeth, Routledge, 1963; A book of cuts, Scolar Press, 1979.

Illustrated books include: The Histories of Herodotus, Salammb˘, Tales of Troy and Greece, The Arabs, Life in an English Village, and many others.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Edward Bawden comprising correspondence, and scrapbooks, 1920s-1980s.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

The collection is currently uncatalogued.

Conditions governing access:

By appointment, contact the Archivist of the Royal Watercolour Society, in the first instance, Bankside Gallery, 48 Hopton St, Blackfriars, London SE1 9JH.

Conditions governing reproduction:

At the discretion of the Archivist.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Box list



Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The collection is on deposit at the Royal Watercolour Society. Transferred 1999-2000.


Related material:

The archives of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, and Royal Watercolour Society are held at Bankside Gallery.

Publication note:


Archivist's note: Sources: Historical Manuscripts Commission's On-Line National Register of Archives; Who's Who 1897-1996 CD-ROM (A & C Black); Modern English Painters, Vol 1, John Rothenstein, Macdonald & Co, 1984. Compiled by Alison Field as part of the London Signpost Survey Project.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: September 2003

Art galleries | Exhibitions
Illustration | Graphic arts
Painters | Artists
Paintings | Painting | Fine arts

Personal names
Bawden | Edward | 1903-1989 | painter and designer

Corporate names
Society of Painters in Water Colours x Royal Watercolour Society