Osborne Samuel Gallery
The Artists of the Grosvenor School
The Artists of the Grosvenor School
Sybil Andrews, Claude Flight, William Greengrass, Cyril Power, Ethel Spowers
The Grosvenor School of Modern Art opened in 1925 at 33 Warwick Way, just behind London’s Victoria Station. The principal was the wood engraver Iain MacNab; Frank Rutter, an eminent critic and writer lectured on Modern Painters from Cézanne to Picasso; Cyril Power lectured on The Form and Structure of Buildings, Historical Ornament and Symbolism and The Outline of Architectural Styles and 24 year old Sybil Andrews was the School Secretary. Here Claude Flight taught his technique of linocut printing and gathered a coterie of students that included Power and Andrews, William Greengrass, Lill Tschudi and Edith Lawrence. Also amongst Flight’s students were the Antipodeans Ethel Spowers, Eveline Syme and Dorrit Black; all three later played a prominent part in organizing exhibitions in Australia. Their work has found a very firm place in the annals of twentieth-century printmaking and has stimulated an international circle of collectors attracted by the energy, colour and modernity of the prints. Examples can be found in many international museums including the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, MoMa New York and national museums in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Osborne Samuel are the leading international dealers in the linocuts of the Grosvenor School, with decades of experience and many seminal gallery exhibitions. The gallery also publishes widely on the subject including catalogues raisonnes of the leading artists.
In 2019 Gordon Samuel of Osborne Samuel Gallery curated the exhibition ‘Cutting Edge – Modernist British Printmaking’ at London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery, the world’s oldest purpose-built picture gallery. It was the largest exhibition ever assembled of these dynamic linocuts with loans from the gallery as well as private collections and museums in the UK, US and Australia. The exhibition had the highest attendance for any summer exhibition at the museum with 90,000 visitors. The exhibition catalogue has been reprinted three times.
Cyril Power, The Sunshine Roof, c.1934
…unless a picture is well designed in the first place, all the subsequent cutting and printing will be useless.
Sybil Andrews in her studio, 1980s
Exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2019
Exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2019
Sybil Andrews (1898-1992)
Sybil Andrews’ first introduction to art was through John Hassall’s correspondence course while she was an oxyacetylene welder in Bristol during the First World War. Following the war she moved back to her hometown of Bury St. Edmunds in Sussex where she met architect and artist, Cyril Power. Together they moved to London where Power became a lecturer at the newly established Grosvenor School of Art and Andrews took a position as the school secretary. Andrews’ art education had continued with her move to London, where she attended Heatherley’s school of art. It was here she witnessed a lecture demonstration by William Kermode on black and white woodblock printing. Her interest in relief printing continued through her work, where Claude Flight was a lecturer in the technique of lino cutting. Andrews attended many of his classes and became one of his most successful and well-known pupils, demonstrating a superior technical ability. Andrews was quick to develop the formal language encouraged by Flight, her prints are obviously influenced by Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism. She however rejected many of Flight’s ideals.
Andrews would later acknowledge her debt to Power and the formal instruction on draughtsmanship that he provided. The working relationship did not last long however and both left London in the late 1930s, Power to return to his family and Andrew to marry. She emigrated with her husband to the remote logging town of Campbell River on Vancouver Island in 1947 and while she continued producing linocuts until her death in 1992 they no longer captured the spirit and dynamism of those she produced while at the Grosvenor School.
Claude Flight (1881-1955)
Linocut and woodcut artist; painter of figures, landscapes and townscapes in oils and watercolours; interior designer and illustrator. He studied at Heatherley’s 1913-14 and from 1918 and exhibited at the RA in 1921, in Paris in 1922 and in London at the RBA from 1923, regularly at the Redfern Gallery and abroad. A member of the Seven and Five society in 1923, and of the Grubb Group in 1928, his work is represented in collections including the V&A.
Flight collaborated with Edith Lawrence, taught at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art and wrote about and organized exhibitions on linocuts. Flight was undoubtably Britain’s foremost exponent of linocutting between the wars. Undetered by the unpopularity of the medium at the time, Flight arranged yearly exhibitions of Grosvenor School artists’ linocuts at the Redfern and the Ward Galleries and as well as touring exhibitions to provincial galleries.
William Greengrass (1896-1970)
William Greengrass was born in 1896, the son of a school teacher in Hertfordshire. William left school in 1908 and started a career at the Post Office but by 1911 he had joined the army and trained as a signal lineman in the Royal Engineers. In 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres, Greengrass volunteered for cable laying on the front line and was shot in the foot. He lay wounded in no-man’s land for some days and gangrene set in, leading to the later amputation of his leg.
After the war Greengrass became an Assistant Keeper at the Victoria & Albert Museum and in his spare time produced accomplished wood engravings. In 1930 he attended Flight’s classes at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art and quickly learned Flight’s techniques. In fact, Flight featured his work in both of his publications – his 1927 ‘Linocuts: a Hand-Book’ and in 1934 in his ‘The Art and Craft of Lino Cutting’. Greengrass also exhibited in Flight’s Redfern and Ward Gallery exhibitions in the 1930’s.
Cyril Power (1872-1951)
Architect, painter, etcher, colour linocut, and monotype artist. Having been awarded the Sloane Medallion by the RIBA in 1900, Power was involved in his own family’s architectural practice as well as working with Sir Richard Allington at the Ministry of Works in 1905. Power then worked as a lecturer at University College, London. In 1912 he published a three-volume work, History of English Mediaeval Architecture ‘, illustrated with his own drawings. During The First World War he flew with the RFC. In 1916 he designed and executed a War Memorial for the Great Western Railway at Paddington, London. In the early 1920s he made the first of some forty drypoints and produced a large number of watercolour landscapes and town scapes.
In 1923 he recommenced study at Heatherley’s and in 1925 helped Iain Macnab set up the Grosvenor School of Art. Whilst teaching Architecture at the Grosvenor School Power and other, now famous, print makers studied linocutting under Claude Flight. Architecture is the subject of his early linocuts: At Lavenham (c1928), and Westminster Cathedral (c.1928), but with The Escalator and The Merry-go-round (both c1929) the Vorticist interest in speed and movement can be seen. He was the most important of the Grosvenor School artists: The Tube Staircase , Brooklands and Speed Trial (1929-32) the latter of which was of Sir Malcolm Cambell’s recordbreaking car Bluebird ; are amongst his best works.
Ethel Spowers (1890-1947)
Ethel Louise Spowers was born on 11 July 1890, in South Yarra, Melbourne, daughter of a New Zealand father and a London-born mother. Her father, William Spowers, owned a newspaper. Spowers trained as an artist in Melbourne, with some study in Paris as well (most notably with André Lhote).
Spowers had her first solo exhibit in Melbourne at age 30, showing fairy-tale illustrations as those of Ethel Jackson Morris. In 1928–29, she studied linocut printmaking with Claude Flight at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London. She was one of several Australian women artists at the Grosvenor School, including Dorrit Black and Eveline Winifred Syme. Spowers mounted an exhibition of Australian linocuts in Melbourne in 1930. In 1932, she became a founder of the Contemporary Art Group, promoting modern art in Australia.