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Edward Bawden, R.A. (1903-1989)
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Edward Bawden, R.A. (1903-1989)

The English Pub

Edward Bawden, R.A. (1903-1989)
The English Pub
signed and inscribed 'EDWARD BAWDEN assisted by E.W. Fenton & M. Hoddell' (on the final panel); each inscribed '976 Oronsay/1st class lounge/Feature Panel' (on a label attached to the reverse)
oil on eleven panels
69¼ x 19¼ in. (176 x 49 cm.) each; 69¼ x 199 in. (176 x 506 cm.) overall
Painted in 1949-1951.
D. P. Bliss, Edward Bawden, Godalming, 1975, p. 154.
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Lot Essay

The present work was commissioned by Sir Colin Anderson in 1949 for the first class lounge of the passenger liner SS Oronsay. Anderson's interest in the arts had begun while he was studying at Trinity College, Oxford, and encouraged through his friendship with Kenneth Clark. On leaving Oxford, in 1925, Anderson joined the family shipping firm, Anderson, Green & Co., which ran the Orient Line to Australia until 1960. He was instrumental in introducing modern design to ships.
The importance of Sir Colin Anderson's patronage of emerging artists, not only in buying works for his own collection (a group of works from this were sold at Christie's, London, 18 November 2005, lots 22-42) but also commissioning works for ships, cannot be underestimated. The list of principal artists and designers commissioned for the Orient Line ships between 1935 and 1960 includes John Armstrong, Louis le Brocquy, Marion Dorn, Edward McKnight Kauffer, John Minton, John Nash, Winifred Nicholson, John Piper, Ceri Richards, Julian Trevelyan and John Tunnard. Sir Colin, who was knighted in 1950, was a key figure in the world of British art: he was, at various times, chairman of the trustees of the Tate Gallery; Chairman of the Contemporary Art Society; a director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the English Opera Group; a director of the City Arts Trust; trustee of the National Gallery; chairman of the Royal Fine Art Commission; Provost of the Royal College of Art; and first Jubilee Medal winner of the Royal Society of Arts.

In addition to the present work, Bawden also designed the menu covers, curtains and china of SS Oronsay, all with an English theme. In The English Pub Bawden's motifs are all juxtaposed in a kaleidoscope of colour, life and energy. The screen divisions of the work give the impression of looking through the veranda of the pub, onto the country beyond. D. Percy Bliss (loc. cit., p. 154) notes that it depicts, 'rural England, the England of the Squires, the England that tourists flock to see. The pub signs, the Rose and Crown, the Cock, the Wheatsheaf and the like, are shown as roundels hanging (as well as they might have done in real life) but - a clever variation - as diminishing slightly in size and tilting slightly inwards from the outer edges of the decoration'.

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