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Bawdens Book Illustration

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Bawden’s Book Illustration


11th April 2015 - January  31st 2016

book illustration 1

Featuring early illustrations, unused designs, original artwork and books written and illustrated by Bawden himself. Quirky and humorous work bursting with original ideas, Bawden’s Book Illustration was drawn from the vast collection of 3,000 works at The Higgins Bedford; the largest of its kind.


Bawden produced an astonishing number of illustrations for books and book jackets throughout his career. Whilst some of the titles themselves may not have stood the test of time Bawden’s illustrations remain as fresh and vibrant as the day they were published. His quirky and humorous work made him the perfect choice for publishers, ‘highly intelligent’ and ‘bursting with original and amusing ideas’.


Book illustration

The illustrated bookjacket was something of a new phenomenon, only becoming firmly established in the 1920s. It was perfect timing for the young Edward Bawden who was employed by the Curwen Press, one of the finest book printers, whilst still a student. Bawden’s first illustrations were for ‘The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins’ by Robert Paltock. This early book published by J.M Dent & Sons, on display in the exhibition, shows one of Bawden’s early influences, the French Illustrator Edy Legrand and clearly shows the development of his work.


This book led to many more including titles for Faber & Faber, Penguin and Chatto & Windus and several plaudits including two Francis William Awards for Illustration.


This exhibition  featured early illustrations, unused designs, original art work as well as books written and illustrated by Bawden himself.