No two of us anywhere in the world would choose the same pictures to hang on our walls: many people would only hang hand painted originals, some just want to fill the walls; the occasional one even chooses the art to match the colours in their house. But most of us want to feel something when we look at our pictures, whether it’s a sense of belonging, pleasure at its beauty, curiosity about its meaning, pride in the artist or just the sheer joy of ownership.
The use of printmaking and the creation of prints to create something original, rather than just being a photographic reproduction of a painting, allowed a new and more affordable way of acquiring and enjoying works of art by great artists, which would otherwise be beyond our reach.
Morning on the Downs by the illustrator, designer, cartoonist and Surrealist Ronald George Ferns (1925-97) – featuring a horse and jockey and an enigmatic figure standing to one side – is one to look at and notice something different each time. Before he embarked on his noted series of Surrealist oil paintings in St Ives in the 1960s, Ferns was a stage costume and set designer, who illustrated Guinness advertisements and the covers of the Fortnum & Mason catalogues, and in 1951 created a large mural for the 1951 Festival of Britain.
There are two pen and ink drawings by Dora Maar (1907-97) arguably the most significant and influential of Pablo Picasso’s muses and lovers, and a signed and dated drawing, Tete de Taureau, by Picasso himself (1881-1973).
Shakespeare’s plays contained themes – lust, death, the blurring between fantasy and reality – that intrigued surrealist artists. A signed dry-point etching by Salvador Dali (1908-89) depicts the downfall of Timon of Athens as a swirling whirlwind with a red skull in the foreground: two other dry-point etchings, both signed and numbered, are the 1973 Hippofemme and the 1974 work Tree of Knowledge. Also on a Classical theme is Marc Chagall’s (1887-1985) lithograph of The Banquet at the Palace of Menelaus from ‘The Odyssey’ of Homer suite of 1975.
David Hockney (b.1937) illustrated the homoerotic ‘Fourteen Poems’ by the Greek poet C V Cavafy. His research work for these drawings took him to Beirut, but in the end they were largely based on friends’ experiences in London: here is the etching with aquatint To Remain (1967) depicting a tobacco shop, another example of which is in the Tate.
Tracy Emin works in a diverse range of media: painting, photography, needlework, sculpture and installation, mostly explorative of women and relationships, and candidly honest. The Kiss, an etching to commemorate the Royal Wedding of 2011 contrasts with two lithographs of neon light installations entitled The Kiss Was Beautiful and I Loved You Like A Distant Star from 2015.
La Bouteille Cassee is a 1970 artist’s proof print by Armand Fernandes (1928-2005), known as Arman. He was a French-born American sculptor and painter, attracted to Dadaism and best known for his ‘accumulations’ and large public sculptures. Arman started his career as a painter noted for his use of objects for the ink or paint traces they left behind (cachets or allure d’objets), in this instance a broken bottle.
John Piper (1903-92) produced work in an array of media: pottery, fabric design, stained glass windows, painting and prints. The richly coloured screen-print of Fawley Bottom, signed, dated and numbered 24/70, shows the derelict farmhouse in Buckinghamshire to which Piper and his wife Myfanwy moved in 1938 and which became a treasured family home; here the house is pictured encompassed, embraced almost, by barns and dense trees.
Graham Sutherland (1903-1980) trained as a printmaker and worked in glass and fabrics; he was an occasionally-controversial portrait artist – memorably of Winston Churchill. He was a Catholic convert, largely influenced by religion and landscape, and he became an official war artist during the Second World War, painting scenes of damage and devastation. The subject of this signed and numbered lithograph, Roses, was a subject that Sutherland returned to many times in his career in fabric design, painting and even ceramic decoration.
Although diverse in styles, one thing is certain: we walk slowly by them, and every single one of us sees something different.
Lucy Deedes has written for the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, Saga magazine, Country & Townhouse magazine, had regular columns in the Scottish Field and Country Illustrated magazine.
For inspiration, pay a visit to our extensive showrooms in Petworth, home to room sets featuring bespoke, antique and contemporary pieces. Our adjacent lifestyle store offers a choice of homewares, accessories and gifts for everyone from children to the family pet.