Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Eric Daglish - Printmaker

I didn't recall having seen many works by this artist before I encountered this striking wood engraving of a Vulture. I was some how mysteriously drawn to this print even through it was almost hidden in a pile of other frames that was casually thrown on the ground at a market. 



It sort of reminded me of the vulture executed by Allen W Seaby, which was in colour. These stark black on white images are often more suitable for these quite ugly subjects, the graphic quality of it is so much more dramatic.

and the artist ?

Eric Fitch Daglish  (
1892-1966)
The boring dry academic bit records him as an artist, writer and professional naturalist, who had learnt the art of wood engraving from his friend Paul Nash. There is limited information on his exhibition record with only 2 works shown at the New English Art Club and 10 at the Redfern Gallery. Of course there is more to his story than this ---


Eric was an academic with interest in zoology and nature who went on the become a writer artist, prolific book illustrator and Fellow of the Zoological Society. He had been educated at Hereford County College, the University of London with further study in Bonn. As with most of his generation; life was interrupted by WW1, during which he served in the Middlesex Imperial Yeomanry and the Royal Artillery. He remain in the army until 1922 becoming an army education officer (1918-22) based at the Woolwich Garrison.


It was during this post war period that he mastered wood engraving after lessons from his friend Paul Nash (1889-1946). He must have taken quickly to this skill as he exhibited 3 works at the Society of Wood Engravers first exhibition in 1920, subsequently being invited to become a member in 1922. This period coincided with his move from London to the Chiltern countryside in Buckinghamshire to pursue his passion for natural history and fulfill an ambition to write.


It would appear from the number (over 400) of references to him on abebooks that he succeeded with this ambition, publishing his first book in 1923. Many of his books are on nature and especially on birds, with his 1948 book "Birds of the British Isles" being of interest to us wood engraving enthusiasts as it was illustrated with 48 of his own engravings. Another area of interest was dogs, writing books titled "Training your dog" and "Caring for your Puppy". He also judged at dog shows including Crufts - if you click the to the Daglish Family blog you will find a picture of him judging.



Other books written and illustrated, include; Woodcuts of British Birds (1925), The Book of Garden Animals (1928), Animals in Black and White (1928), The Life Story of Birds, the "Name This " series and a series of books on breeds of dogs published by W&G Foyle. This list does not do justice to his works and I suggest a few minutes spent on abebooks to get the full impression of success as a writer. He also illustrated other books, again often on nature subjects, including "The Natural History of Selborne" by Gilbert White.


Works by him are held in several public collections, including; Christchurch Art Gallery (follow link to see more pictures), British Council Art Collection, Auckland Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canada, British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Liverpool Art Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery and the Metropolitan Museums of New York, Boston and Philadelphia.


These are lovely images created by an artist who was clearly passionate about his subject.

As a little aside - Eric was a regular lecturer on zoology at Toynbee Hall and president of their Natural History Society and Toynbee Hall was the original location of C R Ashbee's Guild of Handicraft and gave rise to the Whitechapel Art Gallery. Some these art hstories are so convoluted they never seem to end - great fun researching !!

And Lastly a quote from the Daily News - "Mr Daglish has quickly established himself as the Bewick of our time, with his exquisite woodcuts of birds and fishes and wild life. He has done nothing more charming than his series of six animal books. Such delicate craftsmanship, of both pen and the engraver's knife, is wholly delightful."


Dealers with prints by him include;
http://www.lyonsltd.com/Artists/Eric_Fitch_Daglish
http://www.courtgallery.com/artwork/Dalglish_cat.html
Other internet references include;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Fitch_Daglish
http://daglishfamily.blogspot.com/2007/06/eric-fitch-daglish-author-and-engraver.html