Bawden Goes to Market

Bawden Goes to Market

Head of Modern & Contemporary Art, Amy Scanlon, shares some of the Bawden works coming up in our 4 October sale.

6 September 2022

There are many exciting lots coming up in our 4 October sale, including impressive works by Mary Fedden, Frederick Gore, Frank Dobson, Eliot Hodgkin and Australian artist Roy de Maistre but for this piece, I have chosen to focus on a single artist – Edward Bawden RA (1903-1989). Much can be said about his long and illustrious career, but in brief, for anyone unfamiliar with him, he was a painter, illustrator, and graphic designer.

He both studied and taught at the Royal College of Art, served as an official war artist in WWII and was part of the Great Bardfield group alongside Eric Ravilious and John Aldridge. He is one of my best-loved artists and with Sworders' proximity to where he lived and worked, I have been very lucky to see some outstanding pictures by him over the years.  


Edward Bawden RA (1903-1989)
'The Blue Tractor'
Estimate: £3,000-5,000

We have as many as nine lots by Bawden consigned to our October auction. My favourite example from this sale is 'The Blue Tractor' - a linocut in colours from 1962.  Here we see Market Place in Saffron Walden, Essex with the building of the-then Gibson & Co. Bank, now Barclays. This is one of the most inventive linocuts Bawden created with the imposing blue tractor and plough which jumps out of this everyday scene due to its apparent colossal size. Although artistic license has been used for the perspective and scale, this would have been a well-known sight to residents as the machinery belonged to a local agricultural firm which were regularly seen on Tuesday's market day. 

A rarely seen print, it is very exciting to have this work for sale and as we are only a few miles from Saffron Walden, I am sure our local clients and Bardfield enthusiasts will be looking forward to seeing it on view. Another nearby sight is shown in the 'The Temple of Conchord, Audley End'. In this picture, a magnificent tree from the estate dominates the view, whilst the beautiful house can be seen in the rolling grounds. This is a large watercolour, which has retained its lovely colours. I particularly like the way Bawden has created the leaves by drawing small diamonds and triangles and I think I could happily live with this on my wall.


Edward Bawden RA (1903-1989)
'The Temple of Concord, Audley End'
Estimate: £5,000-7,000


Edward Bawden was commissioned to produce murals during his career, including one for Blackwell's Oxford, which was completed in 1972 and can still be visited in the book shop today. Depicting Oxford’s greatest men, it consists of five joined panels, showing figures from medieval to Victorian times. The work has a fun and creative composition reminiscent of a tapestry. We will be offering for sale a preparatory work, (although not used for the final mural) from the Tudor section, showing Bishop Cranmer.  This small mixed media work on paper is colourful and lively. It has excellent provenance as it was purchased from The Fry Art Gallery and previously in the collection of Bawden’s son, the artist Richard Bawden.


Edward Bawden RA (1903-1989)
Bishop Cranmer, drawing for the mural in Blackwell's, Oxford

Estimate: £1,500-2,500


Although perhaps best-known for his prints and illustrations, Bawden also created more ‘painterly’ works and during the 1950s these took on an interesting and unexpected appearance. In the sale we have two gouaches from 1954 which can be set apart from our other offerings by the artist. ‘The Rookery’ is very striking with his dark and dramatic use of line. This alongside the coolness of the colour palette results is a stylized and sophisticated work.


Edward Bawden RA (1903-1989)
'The Rookery'
Estimate: £5,000-8,000


The ‘River Pant, Essex’ also from this year, is a little more typically Bawden with the pen and ink drawing, but it has quite an abstract look. He is playing with the planes of perspective far more than we see with most of his landscape studies, leading the eye back and forth between the trees and the water. These pictures would be a great addition to any collection of Bawden’s work as they represent how muti-talented this unique and innovative artist truly was.


Edward Bawden RA (1903-1989)
The River Pant, Essex
Estimate: £3,000-4,000


A selection of highlights from the auction is currently on view at our London Gallery in a combined preview until 16 September. Highlights include works by Louis Valtat, Mary Fedden, Frederick Gore, Bloomsbury artist Duncan Grant and contemporary juggernauts Grayson Perry and Damien Hirst. Viewing of the entire sale will follow shortly after at our Stansted Auction Rooms.





For more information about the sale, please contact:





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