. . . It has been said that Richard Eurich is a romantic artist; but he is also curiously unpredictable . . .
Wilfrid Robertshaw in the catalogue to the Bradford Artists Exhibition incorporating the Richard Eurich retropective in 1951
. . . Richard was one of the few people who read the whole of Proust’s “A la Recherche du Temps Perdu” probably at the instigation of his friend Sidney Schiff. This was some achievement for a man who was severely dyslexic to the extent that he was regarded as totally uneducable when at school
. . . [His memoir's] distinguishing characteristic is a recollection of the intense experiences of childhood often through the sense of smell and certainly of sights and sounds, building at times to an almost hallucinatory clarity
. . . He was interested in the power of a childish sensibility and how the world around was assimilated in all its glory without the intervention of a mature selective judgement.
. . . There was the little hut [in Richard's and Mavis's garden] in which somehow, when Richard was an official war artist in WW2, he managed to paint his huge wartime pieces . . . He was obviously content with the hut as, later, when the more appropriate large studio was built for him, at first he declared it was too grand for him!
. . . Conversation was always interesting, interspersed with warm humour, ever ready but gentle. On one occasion, Richard amusedly told the story of being with Henry Lamb and oboist Léon Goossens in a London hotel lounge, having tea. Goossens picked up The Times and, with a show of surprise, read out the notice of an award to someone who was anathema to Lamb, who reddened and stiffened. Richard quietly restrained his smiles for he divined Goossens was making it up!
. . . He was a man of few words and those would be to the point. As chairman of Southampton Art Gallery’s Smith Bequest Selection Committee, he would sit surveying what was on offer whilst the others continued to discuss them. Then he would just say: “We’ll have that one… ”, which they did.
. . . All Richard’s pictures have the essence of inner stillness. People in general relate to those containing detail, but it is the late ones that fill me with sheer wonder. My very favourite picture in the world is one of his empty seascapes with white clouds and shimmering water, for it has the mystical quality of eternity.
. . . I did not speak much with Richard. I was a mere whippersnapper, overwhelmed with awe for a real artist, something that seemed like the pinnacle of human achievement. And Richard himself was a somewhat reclusive working artist, doing office hours in the studio, listening to the Test Match on the radio as he worked. As a young man, he had seen the dissipation of talent among fellow artists brought about by a bohemian life style and so chose an almost monastic dedication to his art.
. . . The effect of this was that Mavis had to sacrifice any ambition she might have had for herself to childcare and making the way smooth for Richard’s vocation.
. . . something that was vital to Richard – the importance of painting in the great scheme of things. It had to be accorded the highest respect, be judged by the highest standards.
. . . everything in the house had a sense of aesthetic coherence and rightness – old and naïve marine paintings, objets trouvés, old musical instruments, an Epstein head of a boy and paintings and drawings by Richard himself, cheek by jowl with drawings and paintings by his children.
. . . I studied Richard’s colour effects and brushwork for what I could learn about how to paint well. I remember turning back the pictures [stacked in his studio], looking at the way Richard painted foliage in trees bending over a river, giving the impression of precision without precision, volume without gross tonal contrasts, just by the overlaying of the brush marks and the hardly perceptible variations of colours between them. I learnt how to look and explore that moment in perception when brush mark and image flip-flop one to the other and back again.
. . .The routine admonishment was ‘quiet! Papa’s working’. In spite of these wanderings from the path of a normal reverential grandson Papa did give me a lot of his time, and Nana filled the rest of the days with sandwiches and Kipling cakes, macaroni dishes of dubious origin and all manner of practical entertainments which made Appletreewick such a wonderful place to be.
. . . Overall it was tranquillity and stability that was so important about Appletreewick, along with Nana and Papa, during a turbulent childhood. I lost sight of that when I was subverted by university life. My last recollection of Papa as I left university was as he lay quietly smiling at me from the hospital bed and I told him about my future life at sea. The ubiquitous influence of the sea evident to the end.
. . . It seemed to me that the war was the time where Papa’s understanding of the sea matured; before the war his images were filled with comfortable renderings of beautiful ships in the last days of sail, close to home and safe haven in port. With the war the brutish conquest of the sea became more apparent with dark smudges battling elemental forces with no sight of home or respite. The rusty utility of naval and merchant ships subsequently portrayed with the insight of personal experience, the romantic association gone.
. . . In the Easter holiday of 1937, Uncle Richard and Aunt Mavis invited me to stay for three days at ‘Appletreewick’, their house in Dibden Purlieu.
. . . Richard and Mavis had a sort of ‘Punch and Judy’ theatre, in which they worked glove puppets. I suppose the show was really laid on for my benefit, but my parents were also there, as well as several neighbours to make a larger audience. I can remember nothing of the show, except that it was amusing; but I was intrigued by the backcloth, which Richard and Mavis could see through, though they were hidden from us.
. . . Sleeping by myself in a bed in the studio, I was given a torch in case I woke up in the night. However, I used it mostly to gaze at the wonderful pictures of ships and their rigging in one of Richard’s books. On my last morning I got up early to check whether the paint on the theatre [he had made me the day before] had dried. When I told Richard that it had, he said “Have you been putting your paws all over it ?”
[Richard] also served for 35 years or so as Chairman of the Committee which decides on purchases for Southampton Art Gallery made with the income of the Smith Bequest; in this role he was both efficient and broadminded supporting acquisitions in idioms being very different from his own. In 1950 when the gallery was without a curator - one had left and a new appointment was yet to be made ‐ Eurich initiated the purchase of Stanley Spencer’s The Resurrection with the Raising of jairus’s Daughter; without his prompt action the picture would not be in Southampton.
[David Brown - from the introduction to the catalogue for the 'Eurich at 80' exhibition at The Fine Art Society in 1983]
"As the provinces contribute their annual quota of young artists to London there gathers a force of young opinion and effor which could, in amalgamation, make English art lead the world with ease. Since London gains them, it is London's duty to see that they are not wasted. Richard Eurich is an example. He was born in Bradford, but, in view of his present opinions, it might be kinder not to say where he studied. He says "I am trying to unlearn what I learnt in schools," and considers that self-taught artists are by far the best, since their progress of learning, although slow, goes far. Obviously, form his work, a painter, he is not impressed by drawing as an end, and many watchers of present conditions will agree with his feeling that all works of art should be done for a special purpose, painted for a definite place and lighting, definitely circumstanced and commissioned. Given such conditions work such as this young painter has already done would be valuable to the community. Painted aimfully rather than aimlessly, what he may do may rise to great strength. He was born in 1903. Inspired by Rembrandt, Cézanne, Ucello and virile. Its problem is to know what best mayt be done with them when they are produced."
J.W.S in Studio magazine, February 1928. Harlequins (1926) illustrated the piece.
FURTHER to the touching obituary you published of Richard Eurich (by Peyton Skipwith, 10 June), may I add a reminder of his sensitivity as a teacher? writes David Hepher.
He was a visiting teacher at Camberwell when I was there in the late Fifties and it was the custom at that time to put up exhibitions of student work done over the summer holidays at the beginning of the autumn term, for criticism and prizes. I remember putting in three pictures, two fairly conventional landscapes done in France and one more experimental painting of a landscape in Sheffield which owed not a little to Mondrian. I got a severe hammering by the senior tutor for the more adventurous picture, but was awarded a prize for the landscapes. Afterwards Richard took me on one side and said how important it was to experiment and how he wholly supported me in this; here I felt was a painter talking and not an academic - particularly moving in that he was of the most radical of artists himself.
Response to an obituary in the Independent,
@richardeurichpaintings . . . One of my favourite painters. Reaches the heart, surprises
Instagram post mjohnson_studio
Eurich's influence as a teacher at Camberwell is hard to trace, but a picture such as this Broken Cloud (1988) evidently had much to offer a younger fellow RA, Fred Cuming, who remembers Eurich with affection and respect. Even in his eighties Eurich remained open to new ideas. and may himself have derived inspiration from such committed colleagues as Cuming.
Edward Chaney from ‘Richard Eurich, Visionary Artist’ 2003
I hope it doesn't sound pompous if I try and tell you that I have come away with the sensation of having been able or allowed to share part of the experiences of your creative journey from the young Self Portrait to the beautiful Beach of 1977 and feel full of elation. Perhaps I mean revelation because you have touched with meticulous tenderness and wry wit upon the secrets and mysteries within people and places.
part of a letter from the Redfern Gallery, on seeing the the Eurich retrospective at the Fine Art Society in 1980