Cabinet 02

Open Book

In 1924, JBW visited Room 74 (now gone) in the Victoria and Albert Museum and was enthused by the then permanent display that illustrated many of the various techniques of print-making and the printing of books. In addition to engravers' and etchers' tools and examples of plates, there were also tools, blocks and other equipment documenting wood-engraving practise, many from the workshop of Joseph Swain, who was an important engraver in the heyday of the trade in the 1860's. At this time JBW was also greatly influenced by Edward Gordon Craig's new book on woodcuts, which begins intriguingly with: 'Why did I wood-engrave?'

Edward Gordon Craig, Woodcuts and Some Words. London: Dent, 1924. Special PN 2598 C85 CV95.

Open Book

After his service as a front-line ambulance driver during the last years of World War I (for which he was awarded the Croix de Guerre for rescuing the wounded at Verdun), JBW enrolled in a War degree at Magdalen College reading History. While at Oxford he visited the Ashmolean Museum and spent hours copying from ancient sculptures and forms. The splendid array of Greek nymphs and goddesses at the Museum were his early models and in time a romantic classicism developed that formed the basis of his approach to his art. Ovid and Virgil were reading favourites.

Treasures of the Ashmolean Museum. An Illustrated Souvenir of Art. Oxford: University of Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, 1970. Central AM 101 0Z5.


JBW was self taught. He had begun drawing at the age of thirteen, and his only formal instruction in art was from the Art Master at Rugby, Warwickshire. He enjoyed drawing the human body and some of his earliest engravings were of nereids, nymphs, Pan or satyrs, many of which he set in a natural environment such as streams, rivers, and forests. In order to improve his skill at drawing the human body, particularly the female form, JBW used Arthur Thomson's A Handbook of Anatomy for Art Students (1915). This is a copy of that book.

Arthur Thomson, A Handbook of Anatomy for Art Students. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1915. Leith, Medical Repos.

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University of Otago Master of the Burin: The Book Illustrations of John Buckland Wright, 1897 - 1954 <