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IRISH ARTISTS & ILLUSTRATION 1830-1930

Title: A fair maid of Cyprus

Title of artwork:
A fair maid of Cyprus
Artist:
Gibbings, Robert
Materials:
Paper (fiber material), Ink
Techniques:
Wood engraving
Engraver:
Gibbings, Robert
Author:
de Bourdeille, Pierre
Title of Publication:
The lives of gallant ladies Vol. II
Publisher:
Golden Cockerel Press
Publication place:
Waltham Saint Lawrence, Berkshire
Publication date:
1924
Curator Comment:
Robert Gibbings acquired the Golden Cockerel Press in 1924. The prospect of having complete control over the book-making process appealed greatly to the Cork-born wood engraver. Under his stewardship, the press gained a high, international reputation for the artistic quality of its publications. ‘The Lives of Gallant Ladies’ was among his first illustrative projects for the press. The decision was taken to publish an illustrated version of the erotic text in order to create a much-needed income stream.
Note on artwork:
Following the example of Eric Gill, much of Gibbing's illustrative work depicted the human body, in particular the female form, seen by Gill and his followers as a sexual intuitive creature. Here the female nude is expressed through flowing lines and rounded forms. Unlike other works by Gibbings, such as those for 'Samson and Delilah', his approach here is not overly stylised. Employing the 'white-line' technique, the nude body is dramatically and sensuously lit. This figure is silhouetted against a stark landscape suggesting vulnerability. The intimate nature of wood engraving, both as a process and through its display, was regarded as highly appropriate for explorations of the nude.
References:
Martin J. Andrews, The life and work of Robert Gibbings (Bicester, 2003).


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