Men of Straw (1957)
Photo: Paul Carter      
© Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery / Richard Eurich Paintings

Men of Straw

1957

"Men of Straw" may have evolved from an earlier smaller painting "The Battle of the Boggarts" (1949). Richard mentions the motivation for this smaller painting in his diary:
7th June 1948: "Stretched a few canvases including a 30x25 on which I started a grand subject suggested by Mavis [RE's wife] and Caroline [RE's older daughter] who are reading ‘Worzel Gummidge’ together – ‘The Battle of Scarecrows'."

REP - PC

'Men of Straw' is one of Eurich's weird pictures in which you do not know quite what is happening. There are plenty of ordinary people about, though relegated to the background, as the foreground is taken over by the men of straw (does the figurative meaning of the term as someone having no substance or integrity have any satirical relevance here?), who appear to be busily engaged in a production line of scarecrows. An elevator shifts straw from the rick yard to the field where empty suits of clothes are being stuffed. Is this the revenge of the straw men …

read more..

'Men of Straw' is one of Eurich's weird pictures in which you do not know quite what is happening. There are plenty of ordinary people about, though relegated to the background, as the foreground is taken over by the men of straw (does the figurative meaning of the term as someone having no substance or integrity have any satirical relevance here?), who appear to be busily engaged in a production line of scarecrows. An elevator shifts straw from the rick yard to the field where empty suits of clothes are being stuffed. Is this the revenge of the straw men for the indignity of making them scarecrows for so many years? Regarding the proceedings (if not actually directing them) is a guy upon a flaming bonfire.

Andrew Lambirth 'The Art of Richard Eurich'

Richard notes in his sales diary that 'Men of Straw' was originally painted for the 1958 Pictures for Schools  exhibition, but it was rejected. Deemed too frightening for the children perhaps?

Provenance

ACQUIRED | 1958

Nottingham Castle, Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire

purchased from the artist for £175, via the Royal Academy of Arts; accession number NCM 1958-30

EXHIBITED | 3rd May to 17th Aug 1958

"Summer Exhibition 1958" - Royal Academy of Arts, London

Cat 452

EXHIBITED | 25th Nov 1979 to 20th Jan 1980

"Richard Eurich, RA - A Retrospective Exhibition" - Bradford City Art Gallery / Cartwright Hall, Bradford    (toured Glasgow, London, Southampton)

Cat 56

EXHIBITED | February 1983

"Landscape in Britain, 1850-1950" - Hayward Gallery (and touring), London

toured to Bristol City Museums & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent City Museums & Art Gallery, and Sheffield City Museums & Art Gallery

EXHIBITED | 28th Jan to 13th Mar 1994

"The Edge of all the Land: Richard Eurich 1903-1992" - Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton    (toured to Manchester, Bradford, Ipswich)

Cat 56, illustrated

CAN YOU HELP?

If you can help add to this timeline, please get in touch below.

Provenance:

  • ACQUIRED - 1958 - Nottingham Castle, Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
    purchased from the artist for £175, via the Royal Academy of Arts; accession number NCM 1958-30

Exhibitions:

  • 3rd May to 17th Aug 1958 - "Summer Exhibition 1958", Royal Academy of Arts, London
    Cat 452
  • 25th Nov 1979 to 20th Jan 1980 - "Richard Eurich, RA - A Retrospective Exhibition", Bradford City Art Gallery / Cartwright Hall, Bradford    (toured Glasgow, London, Southampton)
    Cat 56
  • February 1983 - "Landscape in Britain, 1850-1950", Hayward Gallery (and touring), London
    toured to Bristol City Museums & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent City Museums & Art Gallery, and Sheffield City Museums & Art Gallery
  • 28th Jan to 13th Mar 1994 - "The Edge of all the Land: Richard Eurich 1903-1992", Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton    (toured to Manchester, Bradford, Ipswich)
    Cat 56, illustrated

Notes:

  • None recorded.

Related  

A child’s mixture of delight and fear even in the unlikely setting of a quiet farm.

The Battle of the Boggarts (1948)
A child’s mixture of delight and fear even in the unlikely setting of a quiet farm.
Image © The Fine Art Society

Does this page contain inaccurate or missing information that you could help us with, or do you simply want to leave a comment?

Comments:

Just been to Nottingham Castle Museum where 'Men of Straw' hangs...a favourite of mine since the late 70s...as good as ever.

References:

  • The Art of Richard Eurich (Andrew Lambirth, pub. 2020: Lund Humphries, 170 colour illustrations, ISBN 9781848221727) [frontispiece (detail); fig 73, pg 96]
  • “Edge of All the Land” Southampton (1994) (Southampton City Art Gallery / Nicholas Usherwood.) [Figure 56]
  • Art UK [artuk.org]
  • Artstor Slide Library (Pub. ITHAKA) [Image reference]
  • "An eye for detail" (by Frances Spalding, pub. The Independent Magazine, 26 March 1994)
  • Portrait of the Weird [review of The Art of Richard Eurich by Andrew Lambirth, Sept 2020] (Frances Spalding, Literary Review)
  • Frenzy on the Farm (by William Feaver, The Observer, 1994)