Edward Bawden’s London

Illustrator, lithographer, and graphic artist Edward Bawden captured London over a life and career, which spanned the best part of the 20th century.

Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989) Nine London Monuments – The Horse Guards, 1966, linocut © The Edward Bawden Estate
Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989) Nine London Monuments – The Horse Guards, 1966, linocut © The Edward Bawden Estate

London by Edward Bawden is a huge retrospective at the Higgins Bedford museum, which taps into the archive of the artist’s work, bringing some of its 3000 pieces to light.

Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989) Changing The Guard: London’s Daily Military Tattoos, 1925, lithograph © The Edward Bawden Estate
Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989) Changing The Guard: London’s Daily Military Tattoos, 1925, lithograph © The Edward Bawden Estate

Bawden, an Essex man at heart, was drawn to the capital many times over his life, first as a student living in a bedsit with artist Eric Ravilious in Redcliffe road, Kensington.

Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989) Leadenhall Market, 1967, lithograph after linocut © The Edward Bawden Estate
Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989) Leadenhall Market, 1967, lithograph after linocut © The Edward Bawden Estate

Known by some as a ‘manure bed of genius’, the flat was a launch-pad for Bawden’s career, which took in commercial work for clients including Twinings, Westminster Bank, and The London Underground.

Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989) Leadenhall Market, 1967, lithograph after linocut © The Edward Bawden Estate
Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989) Leadenhall Market, 1967, lithograph after linocut © The Edward Bawden Estate

We’re particularly fond of his structural linocuts of London monuments and markets, and his engraving work.

Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989) The Pagoda, Kew Gardens, 1963, linocut © The Edward Bawden Estate
Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989) The Pagoda, Kew Gardens, 1963, linocut © The Edward Bawden Estate

Bawden created a study of Liverpool Street Station in the 1920s and returned to the site in the 1960s, but his most enduring relationship was with Kew Gardens.

The Higgins Bedford has acquired Bawden’s earliest depiction of it with help from The Art Fund. The unpublished manuscript, A General Guide to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Spring and Easter 1923, is a mocked-up guide book for Kew Gardens, and features a dedication on the first page to Ravilious.

Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989) Detail from A General Guide to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Spring & Easter 1923 © The Edward Bawden Estate Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund
Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989) Detail from A General Guide to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Spring & Easter 1923 © The Edward Bawden Estate Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund

Edward Bawden exhibition runs from 22 May – 23 October at The Higgins Bedford, Castle Lane, Bedford, MX40 3XD

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