Edward Burra British, 1905-1976

Privately educated, he studied at Chelsea Polytechnic 1921-3, and at the RCA 1923-5.  He subsequently lived much the rest of his life at his parent's house near Rye.  There in 1927 he met Paul Nash who showed him avant-garde periodicals in which he saw work by artists such as George Grosz; he was stimulated by them to make collages and drawings (and a few woodcuts) in a dadaist spirit.  He travelled (to Paris, Toulon, New York and Boston) as often as his poor health (rheumatic arthritis) permitted, spending much of his time in the low bars, nightclubs, dance-halls and cinemas from which he drew inspiration for his paintings, which were almost in watercolour.  These were often later in his life, very large in scale as he pieced seperately painted sheets of paper together.  His first one-man show was at the Leicester Gallery in 1930.   He exhibited at the 'Art Now' and Unit One exhibitions at the Mayor Gallery in 1933/34 and in the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936.  He visited Mexico in 1938 and, affected the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War, increasingly painted sombre, menacing compositions suggesting cruel religious rightes.  His illustrations, and his sets and costumes for various ballets (for example The Miracle in the Gorbals, 1944) were very successful.  He exhibited at the Lefevre Gallery from 1952, turning his attention to Still Life and landscape subjects.  A retrospective exhibition was held at the Hayward Gallery in 1985.