Kenneth Rowntree



In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Kenneth Rowntree 1915–1997
Screenprint on paper
Image: 541 × 404 mm
Presented by the artist 1985

Catalogue entry

Kenneth Rowntree born 1915

P02837 Verlaine 1984

Screenprint 541 x 404 (21 3/8 x 15 7/8) on paper 685 x 508 (27 x 20); printed by the artist for the Mid Northumberland Arts Group at Sunderland Arts Centre and published by the Mid Northumberland Arts Group; artist's proof aside from the edition of 100
Inscribed 'A/P' b.r. and 'Kenneth Rowntree 1984' b.l.; printed inscription ' "Chanson d'Automne" by Verlaine, screenprint by Kenneth Rowntree - Mid Northumberland Arts Group, Ashington Northumberland 1984 | Printed at Sunderland Arts Centre' along bottom of sheet and 'Les sanglots longs | Des Violons | De L'automne Blessent mon coeur | D'une langeur | Monotone | Tout suffocant | Et blême, quand | Sonne l'heure, | Je me souviens | Des jours anciens | Et je pleure; | Et je m'en vais | Au vent mauvais | Qui m'emporte | Deça, delà | Pareil à la | Feuille mort.' bottom centre of image
Presented by the artist 1985

Unless otherwise stated, all quotations from the artist come from a letter to the compiler dated 13 April 1988.

'This print was made from a painting especially done for a commission from MIDNAG, Ashington (the Mid Northumberland Arts Group) via George Stephenson', its Director: the painting is in the artist's possession. In addition to the edition, 12 artists proofs were made, of which P02837 is one. In a letter to the compiler dated 4 May 1988, the artist writes of the print, 'there was no finished work, as such. It ended up with overlays very often two or three thick, to try out colours'. The subject is inspired directly by the Verlaine poem, the text of which is included in the image. The artist was allowed to choose the poem and and confirms that it is one of his favourite poems. The image is directly inspired by the images in the poem, 'the violin on the left is repeated as a tree form on the right, all bathed in autumnal light'.

The overall theme - creating images inspired by poetry - is one already fruitfully explored by MIDNAG. The artist writes, 'the MIDNAG has already an admirable series of commissioned works based on English poems. This is, I believe, the first of a new series of foreign language prints'. In a letter to the compiler dated 10 May 1988, George Stephenson writes:

The Kenneth Rowntree poster poem was the first of a new series, distinguished by the fact that they [sic] were of a higher quality (on better paper etc) than the earlier series and had a bigger selling price ... The earlier series which had over fifty posters in it over the years included both English and foreign texts, although most of them are now out of print.

Information provided by George Stephenson's office on 52 May 1988 shows that the number of poetry posters in the earlier series is sixty one. Birtley Aris has illustrated The Bonnie Broukit Bairn by Hugh Macdiarmid and Adlestrop by Edward Thomas. Kit Barker illustrated Winter at Gurnard's Head by David Wright. William Scammell's St Bees Head is illustrated by Julian Cooper. The illustrations to The Tyger by William Blake and In Memoriam Again by Robin Fulson were by the respective poets. According to the information provided the poets (if still alive) always had the choice of the poem and, where applicable, the sketches were always sent to them for approval.

The artist has approved this entry.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.455-6

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