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Kenneth Rowntree (1915 - 1997)

Design for wallpaper Putney House combining wood engravings by Ravilious and Thomas Bewick

SKU: 6341
Signed, inscribed with pen and ink
Collage
approx 25 3/8 x 18 1/2 in. (65 x 47 cm)

Size:
Height – 65cm
Width – 47cm

DESCRIPTION

Presentation:
unframed

The design for wallpaper, used in Rowntree’s home in Putney, combining  enlarged versions of Ravilious wood engravings with those of Thomas Bewick.

Ravilious had been one of Rowntree’s tutors at the Ruskin School, Oxford, in the early 1930s and was to remain the single most enduring influence on his design work, with the two men sharing a particularly fascination for letter-forms.   This fascination is evident in a number of the glazed ceramics Rowntree made whilst at the RCA and also in Alphabet (c.1957) his roller-printed glazed cotton design for Edinburgh Weavers, which, with its delightful vignettes, is an unashamed homage to his mentor’s pre-war Wedgwood Alphabet design.   He paid a similar tribute to Ravilious’s memory with the wallpaper he designed for his own use in the house in Ruvigny Road, Putney, to which he and Diana moved in late autumn 1949, in which he juxtaposed enlarged versions of Ravilious wood engravings with engravings by the late eighteenth-century master of the genre, Thomas Bewick, thus creating an elegant eighteenth-century papier peint effect.


Photograph from House and Garden, Feb 1954 (photo by Michael Wickam)
Fig. 23 in Kenneth Rowntree, A Centenary Exhibition by Moore-Gwyn and Liss Llewellyn Fine Art, February 2015
   Another influence on Rowntree at this time was Ben Nicholson, whose work he also greatly admired, and this is reflected in what is probably his most popular textile, Full Measure, a semi-abstract design of mugs, with particular emphasis on the curves of their handles;  a hint of sea beyond helps convey a beguiling sense of leisure and pleasure.   His other designs for Edinburgh Weavers, Marl and Herba are very different in feel just exploiting the pattern of bars of colour – yellow, orange, pink and bright green – against a dark ground.
Sheet of printed wallpaper, Fig. 24 in Kenneth Rowntree, A Centenary Exhibition by Moore-Gwyn and Liss Llewellyn Fine Art, February 2015
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THE ARTIST

Kenneth Rowntree
Kenneth
Rowntree
1915 - 1997

Painter, illustrator, artist in collage and murals, draughtsman and teacher, born in Scarborough, Yorkshire. He studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing, Oxford, under Albert Rutherston, 1934’35, and at the Slade under Randolph Schwabe. During World War II he participated in the Pilgrim Trust Recording Britain project and was an Official War Artist. He had his first one-man exhibition at Leicester Galleries in 1946; other one-man shows followed at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Zwemmer Gallery, New Art Centre, and the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with a retrospective at Hatton Gallery there in 1980. In 1949 he became a tutor at RCA, a post he held until 1958. In 1959 he became Professor of Fine Arts, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, succeeding Lawrence Gowing; he held the position until 1980. In 1992 a touring retrospective was organinsed, starting in Newtown. Group shows included NEAC, AIA and RSW. He became a member of the Society of Mural Painters in 1943, taught mural painting at the Royal College of Art for 10 years from 1948, and received a Ford Foundation Grant to visit America in 1959. In 1948 he illustrated A Prospect of Wales. Murals completed include those for Barclay School, Stevenage, 1946, RMS Orsova and Iberia, 1954, and the British Pavilion at Brussels International Exhibition in 1958. In 1951 he painted murals for the Lion and Unicorn Pavilion at the Festival of Britain. Tate, Victoria & Albert Museum and WAC are among many public owners of his work. Rowntree’s pictures reflect the genial and witty nature of the artist, usually being landscapes and townscapes in which the elements have a toy-like neatness and familiar notations are employed. In the post-war years he also painted a considerable number of abstract (and semi-abstract) works. His work is sometimes signed with just his initials. He lived at Corbridge, Northumberland.

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