From the catalogue introduction:
RICHARD EURICH was a man of few words whose life was contained within his dedication to painting and his family. Representing the R. A. at Southampton Art Gallery as Chair of the Smith Bequest’s Selection Committee, he used to sit quietly whilst the others discussed and argued about the pictures in front of them. When they eventually turned to him for a view, he would say simply, “We’ll have that one.” … which they did.
This show has arisen through our long association with the Eurich family. In 1987 we were marking Lowry’s centenary (and his Southampton link) with a display of his drawings at “The First”. In seeking out Eurich for permission to use the now widely-known photo of Lowry outside his home by Crispin, Richard’s son (1935 – 76), we found another creative talent awaiting “re-discovery”, so we made it a two-man exhibition, Two Memorable Men. This snow-balled into a very long-running UK tour, culminating in our becoming custodians of Crispin’s archive. We are still working on gaining national recognition of his stature, but that is another story.
Richard Eurich was an R. A. alongside Lowry, of course. Being strong-minded, they did not influence one another, but there are many affinities: integrity, doggedness, the eschewing of fashion; both personal and artistic unpretentiousness; the protectively self-deprecating tale of how they got into art; the high viewpoint of most of their scenes (sign of the observer-outsider); their empty seascapes and portrait heads, matchingly full-frontal and powerfully direct; the depiction of humanity’s isolation, an underlying common vision.
Both became War Artists; both were interested in, and would speculate aloud about, what was really behind other people’s social ‘masks’; maybe from studying the Antique, the works of both show an inner stillness, akin to the medieval (even in ‘busy’ pictures), investing in them a sense of timeless-ness. In particular the seascapes, incidentally of near abstract horizontal design, embody the eternals: life, death and hope — “a gathered radiance”.
Eurich remarked, plaintively, “The critics always seem to be ‘discovering’ me”, which was exactly so. The ups and downs of his career have been often told elsewhere. Suffice to say that time is the acid-test and is now recognizing that this remarkable artist is a universal treasure: distinctive, versatile, accomplished and relevant. Time for a big retrospective at the Tate… Above all, his pictures are meant to communicate, so enjoy.
Hilda Margery Clarke B. A. (Hons.) F. R. S. A.