Richard and his wife Mavis were apart much of the time before they got married. She was a teacher at Southlands College in Wimbledon, and he was moving about, sometimes sketching and painting in Dorset, sometimes working in his London flat and occasionally going home to paint in Yorkshire. They kept in touch, almost daily at times, by letter.
The RE archives hold many of these letters, mainly those from Richard to Mavis. Richard illustrated some of them with humorous drawings. We have collected these illustrations together and included a few others he made for Christmas cards too.
The most unusual letter, dated September 1932, fills every page of a small sketchbook with handwriting and drawings.
Most of these drawings were added as breaks in the text or as end pieces. They rarely relate to what he is writing about. They are little jokes that stand on their own.
Richard sometimes drew on pieces of paper torn from exercise books, or on sheets of drawing or watercolour paper, and then enclosed them with his handwritten letters. These drawings were usually folded two or three times so they would fit into the envelopes. Most of these drawings have become separated from their accompanying letters, so we are unable to date them.
We have separated out two of the folded drawings because they are particularly surprising.
The Head and the Jungle
This one has two folds to create a square card containing a faint sketch of man's head, but once opened the reverse side displays a vibrant panorama of jungle animals. It is hard to tell if the portrait was done in the same period as the jungle scene, and difficult to date either of them.
The Dancing Sailor
This was another surprise. It is bigger than most of the others and has two folds to make it the size of a card envelope.
The style here is similar to his drawings in his 1929 Goupil Gallery solo debut exhibition, so it might have been done at that time?
We found several home made Christmas cards illustrated by Richard among the archive of letters.
The earliest one, made when he was 7 or 8, was for his aunt Agnes and Uncle Joe. Inside he has done a watercolour of a great passenger ship, a early indication of his interest in the sea.
The next one looks like it might have been done in the 1930s, picking up the cartoon style he was using in his letters to Mavis at that time.
The other three cards might have been done in the 1960s. They are all originals and have been signed. We assume the whole run of cards must have been signed originals since they were made before the days of photocopying and scanning.
Click on any of the image titles above to go to the relevant catalogue page where you can find more information and zoom into the images.
Get in touch or leave a comment...