Who was Edward Burra?
Edward Burra was an individualistic artist who
painted in watercolour and oils. He was also an Illustrator and
Date and Place of Birth:
29th March 1905, Elvaston Place, South Kensington,
Burra was the only surviving son of Henry Curteis
Burra a barrister and onetime Chairman of East Sussex County Council
and his wife Ermentrude Anne (nee Robertson-Luxford).
Northaw Place prep school, Potters Bar. (Withdrawn
due to ill health). Educated at home instead of going to Eton. Chelsea
Polytechnic 1921-23, Royal College of Art 1923-25.
Chronology/Biography of Edward
1914: Burra sent
to Northaw Place Preparatory school in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire
1917: Suffers from
pneumonia and is now educated at home.
1920: Visits Switzerland
with his mother.
1921: Burra takes
art lessons with Miss Bradley in Rye. Begins studies in life drawing,
illustration and architectural drawing at Chelsea Polytechnic.
1922: Became interested
in films whilst at Chelsea Polytechnic and also jazz. He would buy
his records at Levy's in Aldgate. designs his first poster for the
Olympia Horse Show.
1923: Burra moves
on to the Royal College of Art.
1925: After leaving
the Royal College of Art Burra traveled to Italy with his mother
where he contracts rheumatic fever. He meets Paul
Nash during the summer. Visits Paris with his friend the dancer
and producer William Chappell in October. Joined the London Film
Society with his friend Barbara Ker-Seymer.
1926: Visits his
sister Anne in Florence with his family. He was particularly keen
on the Botticellis in the Uffizi Gallery. Burra also visits SIenna.
1927: In January
Burra visits Paris again and the South of France. Paul
Nash who lived near Rye at the time, encourages him to exhibit
in the New English Art Club show. In August he is introduced to
Oliver Brown of the Leicester Galleries in London.
1928: His vehicle
advertising signs are rejected by the Crawfords. Burra visited Toulon
with Chappell and, amongst other people, the writer Anthony Powell.
In December he meets Frederick Ashton in Paris. Visits music halls
in the Rue de Lappe.
1929: Burra holds
his first one-man exhibition at the Leicester Galleries in London.
He visits Paris once more in the Spring. Became interested in the
works of George Grosz which he had seen in periodicals given to
him by Nash. His sister Betsy dies in August of Meningitis. Visits
Scotland with his mother in September. In October he exhibits some
woodblock prints with the London Group at the Redfern Gallery in
1930: Visits France
again with Nash and they begin making joint
collages. Visits Scotland once more.
1931: Burra introduced
to the American poet Conrad Aiken by Nash. He had settled in Rye
the previous year and this was the start of a lifelong friendship.
Visits Marseilles in February and Paris again in May. Burra exhibits
in "Recent Developments in British Painting" in October
at Arthur Tooth and Sons ltd. He designs sets and costumes for Frederick
Ashton's ballet "A Day in a Southern Port" ("Rio
1932: Showed some
"decorative objects" which were painted trays at the Room
and Book Exhibition at the Zwemmer Gallery in May. In June he holds
his second one-man exhibition at the Leicester Galleries. Illustrates
Humbert Woolf's "ABC of the Theatre".
1933: Burra visits
Paris again. On his first trip to Spain he travels to Barcelona,Granada
and Seville with the writer Malcolm Lowry amongst others. Visits
New York, where he stays in Harlem, and Boston in September. His
work is included in the Art Now exhibition at the Mayor Gallery
1934: In January
Burra visits the Picasso exhibition in New York. Exhibits at the
"Unit One" exhibition at the Mayor Gallery in London in
April. In August he is diagnosed as suffering from pernicious anaemia.
1935: Visits Barcelona
and Madrid where he is impressed by the Bosch and Brueghel paintings
in the Prado. Returns home in July as his father has been taken
1936: Burra designs
sets and costumes for Ninette de Valois's ballet "Barabau"
at Saddlers Wells Theatre. In June he is represented in the International
Surrealist Exhibition in London and signs the statement by the English
Surrealist Group which appears in the International Surrealist Bulletin
No 4. in December he exhibits in "Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism"
at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
1937: Stays in Boston
with his friends the Aikens and visits the Silver Dollar bar. Returns
to england in July. Travels around Cornwall in September.
1938: Burra exhibits
in the International Surrealist Exhibition the Gallerie des Beaux
Arts in Paris in January. In July he visits Dublin and the West
1939: Visits Milan
and Venice with his sister Anne in August. He is included in Contemporary
British art at the British Pavilion at the New York World Fair.
1940: Suffers terribly
from rheumatism and gout. Spends much of the War years at his home,
Springfield, near Rye as travel is difficult. In June he exhibits
in the Surrealism Today exhibition at the Zwemmer Gallery.
1941: Suffers from
1942: Visits his
sister ANne in Herefordshire. Retrospective exhibition in November
at the Redfern Gallery, London.
1943: Begins to
suffer from tinnitus.
1944: Burra designs
sets and costumes for Robert Helpman's ballet "Miracle in the
1945: A book about
him is published in the Penguin Modern Painters series by John Rothenstein.
1946: Stayed at
Grasmere in the Lake District with his friend Conrad Aiken.
1947: Burra designs
sets and costumes for Bizet's "Carmen" at the Royal Opera
House. In June he holds a one man exhibition at the Leicester Galleries.
Visits Dublin with his sister Anne.
1948: In April he
visits Cork with Anne. Designs designs for the set of "A Piece
of Cake" for the Rank Organisation. Designs sets and costumes
for Ashton's Ballet "Don Juan". Illustrates Mark Twain's
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", Edgar Allen Poe's
"Tell Tale Heart" and Laurie Lee's "The Voyage of
1949: Burra holds
a one man exhibition at the Leicester Galleries, London in July.
1950: Designs sets
and costumes for De Valois's ballet "Don Quixote". Tours
France with Anne.
1951: Included in
the Art's Council Festival of Britain exhibition "Sixty Paintings
for 51". Designs sets and costumes for David Paltenghi's "Canterbury
Prologue" produced by Ballet Rambert.
1952: First exhibition
at the Lefevre Gallery in London. Visits Paris and Barcelona.
1953: Stays with
the Aikens at Cape Cod in America from April until October. The
Burra family leave Springfield for Chapel House in the middle of
Rye which had been built for them.
1954: Burra is taken
into hospital for a blood transfusion. Visits Paris in July for
a jazz festival.
1955: In January
he holds a one man retrospective at the Magdalene Sothmann Gallery
in Amsterdam. In April has another one man show at the Lefevre Galleries.
Visits New York and Boston.
1956: Burra suffers
an attack of anaemia. Holds one man exhibition at the Museum of
Art, Rhode Island School of Design.
1957: Begins being
more interested in botanical subjects and holds an exhibition of
still lives and flowers at the Lefevre Gallery. His father dies
1958: Designs sets
for the Adelphi Theatre's production of "Simply Heavenly".
1959: Burra suffers
from mumps and anaemia. Visits Paris and has a one man exhibition
at the Lefevre Gallery in November. Included in Three Contemporary
English Artists at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester.
1961: Visits Paris
and has a one man exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery in July.
1962: Last visit
to Ireland. Takes day trips to Boulougne. Visits the Francis
Bacon Exhibition at the Tate Gallery.
1963: Burra refuses
an A.R.A offered by the Royal Academy of Arts. Holds a one man exhibition
in April at the Lefevre Gallery.
1964: First visit
to Holland with his sister Anne. Meets Francis
Bacon via his friend John Banting.
1965: Burra visits
Norwich with his sister and is impressed by the John
Sell Cotman paintings. Visits Cambridge. One man exhibition
at the Lefevre Gallery in May. Visits Florence in August.
1966: Visits Lincoln,
Boston and Kings Lynn with Anne and in September revisits friends
1967: Visits Peterborough,
Norwich and the North Norfolk coast with his sister in April. Has
a one man exhibition at the Lefevre Galleries in May. Visits Harrogate
in June and August. Wins the Marzotto prize.
1968: Burra visits
the Wye Valley and the Welsh borders in March. Death of his Mother
1969: Moves from
Chapel House to 2 Springfield Cottages, a gardener's cottage next
to his former home, Springfield at Playden, near Rye. Visits Rochester,
the Peak District, Bath and Salisbury. One man exhibition at the
Lefevre Galleries in April.
1970: Burra visits
Norwich with his sister in May and they spend August in Penzance,
1971: Visits Bath
and then on to the South Wales Valleys. Shows new work at the Lefevre
Gallery and early woodcuts at the Treadwell Gallery in London. In
June he is awarded a C.B.E. in the Birthday Honours list. Visits
Liverpool and Snowdonia in October. Starts his first etchings.
1972: Visits North
Yorkshire and Northumberland with his sister Anne.
1973: Burra visits
the Lake District with his sister in April. In May The Tate Gallery
holds an Edward Burra Retrospective of 143 of his pictures and there
is a show at the same time at the Lefevre Galleries showing new
work. In June and July he travels to Boston, Lincolnshire with Anne
and also Cambridge. In September they visit Tavistock and Dartmoor.
1974: In May he
visits North Yorkshire with his sister and then they go on to Northumberland,
seeing Lindisfarne and Warkworth Castle. They then visit the Cairngorms
in Scotland. Breaks his hip during the year from which he never
1975: Burra visits
Canterbury with Barbara Ker-Seymer, He visits Cornwall with Anne
in April and shows new work at the Lefevre Galleries in May.
1976: Has a bout
of gastric flu in February and falls over again in Rye in May this
time breaking his leg. In September he is admitted to Hastings hospital
with a blocked bowel.
Date and Place of Death:
22nd October 1976, Hastings Hospital, England.
Age at Death:
Site of Grave:
Rye Cemetery, Rye, East Sussex.
Places of Interest:
2 Springfield Cottages, Playden, Rye. (former
Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne
Russell Cotes Art Gallery, Bournemouth
Redfern Gallery, Cork Street
Alex Reed Lefevre, Brutin Street
Victoria and Albert Museum
Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester
Castle Art Gallery, Nottingham
Museum and Art Gallery, Hove
Ory Gallery, Leeds
City Art Gallery, York
McManus Galleries, Dundee
Ulster Museum, Belfast