Search is on for the lost watercolours of Edward Bawden

By Richard Moss | 21 November 2014

Do you have a 'lost' Edward Bawden painting hanging on your wall? The Mainstone Press would like to hear from you

a watercolour painting of a ploughed filed with a sun rising above trees in the distance
Edward Bawden, Ploughed Field (1934)© Aberdeen Art Gallery
When the designer and painter Edward Bawden left his Hammersmith flat for the bucolic charms of his home county of Essex during the early 1930s, it afforded him the space and time to indulge his passion for watercolour painting.

With his friend Eric Ravilious, Bawden had been a star pupil of Paul Nash at the Royal College of Art. But his recent success with commercial design work meant the watercolours had taken a back seat.

Once he moved to Brick House in Great Bardfield, he began venturing into the Essex countryside and making trips down to Ravilious’ stamping grounds along the Sussex coast for painting expeditions that resulted in a series of inventive watercolours, regarded by some as his best.

Sixty of them were shown in two major solo exhibitions in London - one at the Zwemmer Gallery in 1933 and the other at the Leicester Galleries (aka Ernest Brown & Phillips) in 1938. Such was their popularity, nearly all of the paintings were snapped up by private collectors. 

Now the search is on to find these lost treasures of the 1930s and show them to the public once again in a new book by James Russell published by the Mainstone Press.

The Lost Watercolours of Edward Bawden will combine Russell’s insights with beautiful pictures of Bawden's Essex and Sussex to offer the perfect complement to the independent art publisher's popular series of books on Ravilious.

The only problem is, most of these inventive and vibrant works have been little seen since the 1930s. And, after a search that has led both publisher and author across the UK, there remains a few elusive Bawdens still out there - somewhere.

“Whilst we have managed to track down a number of the works shown in the two shows, there are still a number of paintings that we have not been able to locate,” says publisher Tim Mainstone.

"The scenes depicted were near Bawden’s home in Great Bardfield (panoramic landscapes, local villages, farms, orchards, views from Brick house) and also seascapes at Newhaven Harbour.”

Thanks in part to art galleries like the Fry in Saffron Walden and The Higgins in Bedford, Bawden's designs, posters, linocuts, illustrations and even the watercolours he produced as an Official War Artist during World War Two have become an integral part of mid-20th century British art history.

It's enticing to think there's more out there still to be seen and enjoyed.

If you have a beautiful Bawden hanging in your home and would like to share it with the world, get in touch with the Mainstone Press at info@themainstonepress.com or telephone Tim Mainstone on 01362 68839501362 688395.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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I have an Edward Bawden watercolour - 'Heligan Jungle' 1978/9 Contact me on artistval@icloud.com if you want to know more
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