Gwen RAVERAT S.W.E. (1885 -1957)

The first decade of wood engravings 1909 -1920

Gwen Raverat, to quote a cousin, ‘maintained with characteristic irrational ferocity that her art had never been influenced by anybody, but had simply occurred’. While this is no more entirely true than it is for any artist (in her case one thinks of Thomas Bewick and August Lepere in particular), it is the case that her wood engravings are inimitably her own. No-one else at the Slade, which she attended between 1908-1910, was making such things. ‘It is very shocking’ she wrote to the artist who had lent her the tools with which to start ‘but I really care for nothing but woodcuts now’. This little group of wood engravings has been chosen to show how she was developing between 1909 and 1920. That year she became a founder member of the Society of Wood Engravers, at whose annual exhibitions she showed 122 wood engravings over the next twenty years. The Society is now celebrating its Centenary with a wonderful exhibition (and catalogue) at the Ashmolean, arranged by the wood-engraver Anne Desmet.

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