Closeout Price! By Andrew Lambirth. This is the first book to present a comprehensive overview of the entire career of British artist Richard Eurich (1903-1992). Eurich was a draughtsman, landscape painter, teacher, war artist, autobiographer, marine painter extraordinaire, portrait painter, figure painter, satirist, genre painter, visual poet of the beach, and occasional sculptor. And on occasion he’d paint “the mysterious and unseen.” He settled on the coast of England and marine paintings became a specialty. During World War II he was a war artist. Lund Hunphries, 2020.
This is the first book to present a comprehensive overview of the entire career of British artist Richard Eurich (1903-1992). Eurich was a draughtsman, landscape painter, teacher, war artist, autobiographer, marine painter extraordinaire, portrait painter, figure painter, satirist, genre painter, visual poet of the beach, and occasional sculptor. And on occasion he’d paint “the mysterious and unseen.” He settled on the coast of England and marine paintings became a specialty. During World War II he was a war artist.
While still a student, Eurich met Sir Edward Marsh, a great patron of the arts. He took Eurich under his wing and together with Eric Gill was instrumental in arranging Eurich’s first one-man show at the Goupil Gallery in 1929. This exhibition consisted entirely of painstaking pencil drawings. At the opening, Eurich met the artist Christopher Wood who advised him to “paint what you love and damn all fashions that come and go”, which advice Eurich took to heart.
Marsh also introduced Eurich’s work to the Redfern Gallery where he had a show in 1933; it was so successful that the Redfern offered to act as his London dealer. His association with the gallery lasted for twenty-five years and he had a further fifteen exhibitions there. Eurich spent the early part of the 1930s living in small fishing ports on the south coast of England and in 1934 he settled in Hythe, Hampshire. Hythe, and the nearby Southampton Water, became regular subjects of his paintings.
In June 1940 Eurich wrote to the War Artists’ Advisory Committee, WAAC, suggesting the withdrawal from Dunkirk as a subject, as he had previously painted in the port at Dunkirk. Although WAAC had already commissioned a large painting from Charles Cundall on the withdrawal, they agreed to Eurich’s suggestion. His panoramic painting of the Dunkirk beaches made his name overnight when it was shown at the National Gallery in August 1940, alongside Cundall’s treatment of the same subject.
From 1941 to 1945 he painted epic reconstructions of battle scenes, depictions of survival stories and also simpler paintings of ships and boats. Some of these works were based on locations and vessels Eurich was familiar with, such as his paintings of British fishing boats and of naval actions off the south coast of England.
To ensure accuracy, Eurich made several trips on destroyers patrolling the Straits of Dover during the war. Other paintings were based on photographs and eyewitness accounts and some were wholly works of imagination. This last category included “Survivors From a Torpedoed Ship”, showing exhausted men clinging to the upturned hull of their lifeboat. Although the painting was greatly praised, by Winston Churchill among others, WAAC quickly withdrew it from public display fearing it would adversely affect recruitment to the Merchant Navy.
Eurich painted reconstructions of British Commando raids on Vaagso, Bruneval and Dieppe. For the Dieppe raid, Eurich was given access to the operations room for the attack and listened to the British radio communications as events developed. During the war, Eurich also painted scenes representing the D-Day landings, the Battle of Salerno, the wreck of the Tirpitz and air attacks on a convoy. In total, Eurich completed some 34 oil paintings during the war.
Eurich first had a picture exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1937. In 1942 he was elected an Associate member and became a full Academician in 1953. He became a member of the New English Art Club in 1943 and was an honorary member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists.
Eurich was a private man, not given to self-promotion, and as such has not received the widespread attention he deserves. The Art of Richard Eurich places the artist within the context of 20th-century British art, demonstrating his relevance in all quarters of the art world of the period. His many creative talents are united in this compelling analysis of the man who was responsible for them. Featuring a wide selection of his artworks, from the topographical to the visionary, from the drawn to the painted, this book unspools the narrative of Eurich’s life through expertly selected paintings and drawings, and places him in relation to his fellow artists, friends, and contemporaries.
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