A portrait of Robert Catterson-Smith

robert catterson-smith Tom Riedlinger has recently sent us a scan of this portrait of Robert Catterson-Smith, a pastel painting by T. Murray Bernard Bladon in about 1920. It was for many years owned by the Central School of Arts and Crafts in Birmingham and is now in the Jenden/Riedlinger Collection.

The original label read: “R. Catterson-Smith M.A. | Principal of the Central School of Arts and Crafts 1903–1920 | Director of Art Education for the City from 1911.”

Catterson-Smith, it will be recalled, was the young Birmingham artist hired by Morris to assist in the preparation of Burne-Jones’s illustrations for the Kelmscott Chaucer. Burne-Jones’s designs were delicately shaded pencil sketches that proved to be unsuitable for the bold, medieval-looking wood-engravings Morris had in mind. Hence his sketches were photographed by Emery Walker’s firm so that Catterson-Smith could trace over them, and then in turn those modified tracings were transferred to woodblocks. There were some complaints at the time because Catterson-Smith’s name was not mentioned in the colophon of the Chaucer; one suspects that Morris was unwilling to acknowledge publicly his heavy reliance on photographic technology.

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  1. Pingback: Three copies for sale in one month | The Kelmscott Chaucer

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