Cabinet 09


In August 1939, JBW wrote to Mary, his wife, who was staying at Avignon: 'When I get to you we’ll decide whether we join the French or go back to Merry England and join up there - but there'll be more food in France! I still think that the corner will be turned at the last moment but am taking all precautions. I shall bring the silver with me!' Part of the silver consisted of his engraving tools and plates for Pervigilium Veneris: The Vigil of Venus, a commissioned work for Golden Cockerel and printed in August 1939. The idea of the designs for this work was inspired by the Roman sarcophagi at the Louvre.

Rod Cave, "The Making of the Vigil of Venus", Letters from John Buckland Wright to Christopher Sandford, 1937-1939', Matrix 9 (Winter 1989), pp. 146-171. Special Z 119 MD79.


On the subject of printing his copper engravings for 'Venus', JBW wrote: 'This is what I call a perfect print. The tone is sufficient and not too even. The lines have their full value and have slight tone or aureal round them, which will go on improving with age. It is of course greatly helped by the type of paper used, the ink, and the slight 'burr' left on the lines...This plate was printed cold, rag-wiped...'. The combined technique of line engraving and sugar-lift aquatint (learnt from Lacourière) produced one of JBW's finest illustrated books. Unfortunately the outbreak of the war reduced notice of it except to subscribers.    

Image No.7 from Pervigilium Veneris: The Vigil of Venus. London: Golden Cockerel Press, 1939. Private Collection.

Open Book

The Europa Press was established by George Reavey (1906-1976), the Irish surrealist poet and first literary agent of Samuel Beckett. Initially in Paris (1932-35), Reavey moved his press to London, which then ceased operation in 1939. Because of his friendship with 'Bill' Hayter at Atelier 17, he engaged JBW to illustrate Quixotic Perquisitions (1939). The fluid lines make Don Quixote easily recognizable; the placement of a delightfully small Sancho Panchez under the rearing Rocinante is a master stroke by JBW.

George Reavey, Quixotic Perquisitions. London: Printed by Hague and Gill, for the Europa Press, 1939. Special PR 6035 E25 Q59.

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