Ceri Richards

Design for a Dropcloth: Homage to Dylan Thomas


Crayon, ink, gouache and cut paper on paper mounted on cardboard
Support: 527 x 781 mm
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1962

Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘Ceri Richards 53'54 Homage to Dylan Thomas’ b.l., ‘Design for a dropcloth for a reading of works by Dylan Thomas at the Globe Theatre Jan 24 1954 Ceri Richards’ b.r.

Crayon, ink, gouache and cut paper collage on paper, mounted on cardboard, 20 1/4×30 1/2 (53×78·5).

Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1962.
Coll: Purchased by the C.A.S. from the artist 1957.
Exh: C.A.S., Recent Acquisitions, Whitechapel Art Gallery, September 1961 (99).
Repr: Ambassador, No.11, 1962, p.54.

The artist wrote (letter of 30 January 1962) that this was one of many designs made when he was working on the sets and dropcloth for the Memorial Reading of Dylan Thomas's poems, organized by the Sunday Times, and given at the Globe Theatre on the evening of Sunday, 24 January 1954 (see also the inscription above). He explained that ‘the centre part of this particular design (as in some others) is a drawing mounted and surrounded by a border to meet the dimensions of the cloth - in this instance, the border was added some time later. Anyway, the design which was used for the cloth at the Reading is owned by John Russell. This is also a black drawing surrounded by a border - but it is a papier collé design in bright red and green.’

The motif of the owl and heron plucking at a shroud-bound corpse recurs again, in partly the same form, in ‘Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night’ (T00439). There is also a variant of the traditional memento mori emblem of a broken-stalked spray of flowers in a vase.

Two related designs were shown at the Whitechapel Art Gallery retrospective exhibition, 1960 (144 and 146); there is another in the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, and a further two were acquired by the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, in 1954.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II