Waugh Exhibition Catalogue Available Online

The catalogue of E.W. Pinxit: An Exhibition of the Graphic Art of Evelyn Waugh is available online and may be downloaded in pdf format from this link. It is written by Mark Everett with the assistence of Ed Maggs and Alice Rowell, with photography by Ivo Karaivanov. There is a textual discussion of Waugh’s career as an artist as well as an identification and brief description (where relevant) of each of the more than 60 items on display, many of which are illustrated. Some items are for sale, in which case a price is listed. Here’s an excerpt of the text:

We have the opportunity to see in the present exhibition more of Waugh’s graphic work than has ever been brought together before and exhibited in public. Confronted by this body of work, the vast majority of which Waugh had completed by the age of 30, the question arises whether the world lost a significant artist, when he decided to concentrate exclusively on prose.

Waugh himself had no illusions about the limitations of his talent for graphic art. In A Little Learning (1964), he says of his short time at Heatherley’s art school in 1924: “As a result of the exercises in the studio my eye grew sharpened and my hand more responsive until my drawings were by no means the worst in the class; but boredom soon overcame me. I enjoyed making an agreeable arrangement of line and shadow on the paper, but I was totally lacking in that obsession with solid form, the zeal for probing the structure of anatomy and for relating to one another the recessions of planes, which alone could make the long hours before the models exciting.” …

What would Waugh have made of the present exhibition? One suspects that he would have been amused that anyone had considered it an exercise worth undertaking. As a craftsman, though, he would surely have been gratified that his largely ephemeral work of so long ago was still being appreciated. Above all, one suspects that he would wish to repeat his injunction from the Author’s Note to Decline and Fall: Please bear in mind throughout that IT IS MEANT TO BE FUNNY.

Ths exhibition opened earlier this week and continues through Friday, 28 July at Maggs Bros., 48 Bedford Square, London WC1.

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