Edward Bawden, CBE RA (1903–1989, British)

Self-Portrait with Cat, 1986 Edward BawdenEdward Bawden, CBE RA (1903–1989, British) was primarily an illustrator and graphic artist and was adept at using a variety of media. Born in Essex, Edward was the only child of an ironmonger. Early on Bawden enjoyed drawing, spending much of his time alone. His first drawings were copies of Louis Wain’s cats.  Prior to attending the Royal College of Art where he eventually taught, he was a student at the Cambridge School of Art.  He was influenced by the style of William Morris.  Bawden became a commercial artist and worked on many publications. In 1932, he married Charlotte Epton, a fellow student at the Royal College of Art, and they had two children, perhaps the most famous of whom is Richard. Richard Bawden followed in his father’s footsteps and included many cats in his compositions. In fact, it is difficult to tell the difference between the father and son’s works.

During WWII, Bawden was a war artist. Many of his works from this time period concentrated on landscapes and portraits in the Middle East. Upon his return to England, his ship the Laconia was torpedoed, and he spent five days on the open sea before being rescued by a French ship which took him to an internment camp in Casablanca, where he spent two months before it was liberated by the Americans. In 1943, he returned to the Middle East as a Ministry of Information artist, but only spent a year there. By July 1945, Bawden had returned to England.

After the war years, Bawden continued to illustrate publications and to design tiles in public transport venues such as at Tottenham Hale and the London Underground.  Additionally, he illustrated several books which include: Life in an English Village, The English Scene, Hold Fast Your Teeth and Travels of a War Artist.

In his later years, Bawden concentrated more on cats and in particular his cat Emma Nelson.  He said of her while trying to paint the now famous work, Emma Nelson by the Fire,No cat will suffer from being lifted up and dropped into an empty space intended for her to occupy; that procedure led inevitably to Emma, tail up, walking away at once, so I had to wait patiently until Emma had enjoyed a good meal of Coley and was ready to choose her daily sleeping place, wherever it might be. I would then spring into action with a colour and colour.” His son Richard later commented about the painting, “Although the house is covered with his early wallpapers, yellowed by nineteen years of nicotine, his studio being an extension was painted brick and not alas the wallpaper known as Rustication [1938–9] … The nasty tartan fur lined cat ‘basket’ came from the local charity shop … The rug on the floor used to be in the bathroom at Brick House, Gt. Bardfield, bought by my mother on a trip to Portugal or elsewhere. The curtain draped over the armchair hung in the spare room at Gt. Bardfield, and I am fairly sure must have been designed by Marianne Straub who lived in the cottage directly across the road and who at the time, I mean the late fifties, was chief designer at Warners. The cushion, at a guess because there is not much showing, was probably covered by a piece of hand blocked cotton by Barron & Larcher who had a studio in Painswick until the outbreak of war. The gas fire I cannot help you with, only I think Edward has improved its design.



Emma Nelson by the Fire 1987, Edward Bawden cat art

Emma Nelson by the Fire, 1987




La Reverie, etching, Edward Bawden, cats in art

La Reverie, etching




My Cat Wife, Edward Bawden

My Cat Wife




Play with Me, Edward Bawden, cat with string

Play with Me




Linocut Cat, Edward Bawden

Linocut Cat





Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989) cat linocut




Edward Bawden, cat linocut





Tyger, Tyger Edward Bawden

Tyger, Tyger





Edward Bawden Cat and an Orchid, 1987

Cat and an Orchid, 1987





Cat, Flowers and The Guardian, Edward Bawden

Cat, Flowers and The Guardian




Cat with Everlasting Flowers, Edward Bawden

Cat with Everlasting Flowers




Cat on a Carpet, Edward Bawden

Cat on a Carpet





Cat and Greenhouse watercolour, 1986 Edward Bawden

Cat and Greenhouse, 1986




Cats, Edward Bawden







Cat Amongst the Pigeons, 1986, Edward Bawden

Cat Amongst the Pigeons, 1986





Four Chairs and a Cat, 1987 Edward Bawden

Four Chairs and a Cat, 1987




Cat on a Chair, Edward Bawden

Cat on a Chair




Cat Begging, Illustration, Edward Bawden

Cat Begging, Illustration




The Well-Fed Cat, from 1950s Fortnum and Mason Christmas catalogue, Edward Bawden

The Well-Fed Cat, from 1950s Fortnum and Mason Christmas catalog




Cats in Advertising F&M Christmas Catalogue, Edward Bawden

Cats in Advertising F&M Christmas Catalog




Cat Merry Christmas Illustration, Edward Bawden

Merry Christmas Illustration




Cat Illustration cover of magazine, Edward Bawden




Cat in the Kitchen Illustration, Edward Bawden




Edward Bawden, Cat Illustrations




It's Time, Edward Bawden

It’s Time




The Ginger Cat, Edward Bawden

The Ginger Cat



Want to know more about the cat in art, history and literature? Then Revered and Reviled is the book for you.  Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 



Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats


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