Tate Britain Talk

Library and Archive Show and Tell: Illustrated letters from the archive

Join us as we reveal drawings, sketches and doodles hidden in the private letters of artists

Artists often embellished their letters to friends and family with all kinds of images. Some of them illustrate artworks the writer is working on; some give a ‘snapshot’ of their surroundings or an activity they took part in; some provide maps or directions; and some are simply whimsical, romantic, humorous, satiric, or merely contain doodles.

This Show and Tell will look at illustrated letters selected from the rich holdings of artists’ correspondence held in Tate Archive. Exhibits may include comic scenes by Bloomsbury artist Dora Carrington; dispatches by the Nash brothers from the Western Front; self-portrait caricatures by William Orpen; fantastic drawings by British Surrealists; correspondence between émigré Austrian artist Marie-Louise von Motesiczky and German Expressionist painters such as Max Beckmann and Oskar Kokoschka; letters from Kenneth Armitage to his wife while serving with the Royal Artillery during World War II; and illustrated letters from Alexander Calder, Lucian Freud, Augustus John, Mervyn Peake, Walter Sickert and Stanley Spencer. Not to mention endless pictures of cats ...

Material selected by Nicola Roberts (Reader Services), with help from Victoria Jenkins and Darragh O’Donoghue (Tate Archive)

Tate Britain


1 December 2017 at 12.30–13.30

1 December 2017 at 13.30–14.30