Douglas Percy Bliss (1900 - 1984)

Snow in Blackheath, (Christmas, 1938)

SKU: 10540

Oil on canvas



Height – 76cm x Width – 102cm


Prudence and Rosalind Bliss

Literature: Gargoyles & Tattie-Bogles: the lives and work of Douglas Percy Bliss and Phyllis Dodd, Fleece Press, 2018.

In 1932 the Bliss family moved from Lambeth to Blackheath and Douglas took a job at Blackheath Art School. Phyllis gave birth to her first daughter, Prudence.

As an artist Douglas exchanged the low-toned backstreet scenes of Lambeth for views over his extensive back garden in Blackheath, and these were now usually painted in oils……The Blisses began to settle into the Blackheath community. Douglas had always shown a flair for organising and getting things done at college, and now in 1937 he became a Founder and firstSecretary of the Blackheath Society with Lord Vaizey as President and poet John Betjeman in support. This protected the Georgian and Regency architecture of the district and organised opposition to those speculative builders who wished to tamper with it, or to hack down the trees; the Society is still in existence.

We are grateful to Malcome Yorke and Simon Lawrence, for the above information, which is quoted in the Fleece Press Publication, Gargoyles & Tattie-Bogles, 2017, pp 125-142

Exhibited: Sanctuary, Artist-Gardeners, 1919-39, Garden Museum, London, 25th February – 5 April, 2020

Literature: Christopher Woodward, Sanctuary: Artist-Gardeners, 1919–1939, published by Liss Llewellyn, 2020

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Douglas Percy Bliss
Douglas Percy
1900 - 1984

Douglas Percy Bliss (28 January 1900’11 March 1984) was a Scottish painter and art conservationist. Bliss’s family was from Northamptonshire, England. Bliss himself was born in Karachi, India (now in Pakistan). Bliss was raised in Edinburgh and educated at George Watson’s College from 1906 to 1917.

Bliss left school in 1917 to join the Highland Light Infantry until the end of WW1

In 1922 he was awarded an M.A. in English Literature by the University of Edinburgh. He had studied Art History in his first year. Bliss then studied painting at the Royal College of Art in London. In his post-graduate year he studied engraving. In 1925 the Oxford University Press published his engravings illustrating Border ballads. Bliss then received a number of commissions, including a commission to write A History of Wood Engraving. This work received such critical acclaim that Bliss’ reputation as an artist was overshadowed by his reputation as a critic and teacher.

In 1928 Bliss married Phyllis Dodd, who was a painter. Encouraged by his wife Bliss took up painting again, painting oil and watercolour landscapes in Scotland and England. Coincidentally his paintings record the end of an era of small-holding. He also painted some urban scenes just before the towns were transformed by high rise and high-density buildings.

In the 1930s Bliss established the Blackheath Society, which continues today to attempt to protect the amenity of life in south-east London. In the 1930s he taught at the Blackheath School of Art and was the London art critic for The Scotsman.

In 1941 Bliss joined the RAF and was stationed in Scotland. After the war he was appointed Director of the Glasgow School of Art. He referred to Glasgow as “the greatest industrial city in the Empire”. Bliss was instrumental in saving much of the Art Nouveau architecture and furniture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. He continued as Director from 1946 until 1964. When he completed his period as Director, Glasgow School of Art was listed by Whitaker’s Almanack among the six top Art Schools in Britain.

Bliss’s own art was exhibited around Britain. There was an exhibition of his work in the Glasgow School of Art, in the northern hemisphere summer of 1998.

Much of the work of Bliss’s youth has been lost. Most of his engravings were unpublished before the beginning of the War in 1939 and his entire collection was stolen during the Blitz. Decades later sixteen degraded blocks were identified at an auction. Most split when printing was attempted.


SKU: 7665

Douglas Percy Bliss (1900 - 1984)

Man carrying a sack over his shoulder, ascending the steps of a barn., circa 1930


SKU: 7632

Douglas Percy Bliss (1900 - 1984)

Boy Scaring Crows, 1925