Archive of prints by 20th century artists from The Curwen Studio, Chilford Hall, to go under hammer

Art Daily
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Edward Bawden CBE, RA (British 1903-1989) Aid to Russia; The Rail-Head at Khanagin, Iraq.
Edward Bawden CBE, RA (British 1903-1989) Aid to Russia; The Rail-Head at Khanagin, Iraq.

CAMBRIDGE.- A large archive of prints by the likes of Edward Bawden, Lionel Bulmer and Kip Gresham will go under the hammer at Cheffins in Cambridge on the 21st – 28th August. In a timed online format, the prints on offer are the remaining items from the famous Curwen Studio, previously located at Chilford Hall, Cambridgeshire.

The Curwen Studio was founded by the Reverend John Curwen in 1863 and based in Plaistow, Newham. Initially publishers of sheet music, the press went on to become one of the first institutions to produce lithographs and prints by some of the UK’s most well-known graphic artists from the early 20th century. In 1977, an exhibition at the Tate Gallery named ‘Artists at Curwen: A Celebration of the Gift of Artists’ Prints from the Curwen Studio’ was the turning point to putting the Press on the map and was the start of the Tate’s archive of contemporary prints. The Curwen Studio was relocated to Chilford Hall in Cambridgeshire 1989 by businessman and art enthusiast, Sam Alper, where it went from strength to strength. Later, Sam Alper also established the Curwen Print Study Centre which is still in existence. Following Sam’s death in 2002, The Curwen Studio returned to London where it currently operates from Worton Hall.

Brett Tryner, Director, Cheffins comments: “The Curwen Studio produced tens of thousands of prints by some of the most important contemporary 20th century artists and became known as one of the preeminent printmakers of the past century. The key artists of the 20th and 21st century are the ones to watch in this market, with works from the likes of Edward Bawden, Bernard Dunstan and Lionel Bulmer, offering some of the best lithographs or prints available, especially those which carry a signature and a low edition number. There has been an uplift in values for some of the best prints on the market, with Lowry examples now achieving prices well into the thousands, however the joy with prints is that they provide a way to invest for less, making them a viable option for those looking to start a collection.”

Fiona Alper, who is selling the collection said: “During the 20th and 21st centuries the Curwen name put its stamp firmly on art history, and as with all great reputations there is a fascinating tale to be told. From the early beginnings right through to the present day the studio enjoyed global acclaim for its pioneering work in the world of print under the direction of Master Printmakers Kip Gresham and Stanley Jones. This sale of Curwen works marks a poignant end to an illustrious period of development in the lithographic printing process. For myself and my husband, the late Sam Alper, it has been a great personal pleasure and privilege to have been a part of that story. Our association and friendships with some of the world’s most exceptional print makers and artists provided us with precious memories. At Chilford Hall we welcomed such wonderful talented people as Paula Rego, John Bellany RA, Sir Kyffin Williams RA and HRH The Prince of Wales just to name a few, many of whom are present through their work in the upcoming auction.”

The sale will include single examples of prints to appeal to the private collector, however multiple prints of the same edition will be available later.