Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Clare Leighton (1898-1989)   BIOGRAPHY

 RESERVED
 
Louisiana Pilgrimage (BPL 525), 1942
Framed (ref: 6012)
Original woodblock (cancelled)
4 x 5 3/8 in. (10.5 x 13.5 cm)

 


Provenance: The Artist's Estate


Southern Harvest was published in 1942, The Macmilllan Co, (1942). Lousiana Pilgrimage appeared on p 126.


By the time Clare Leighton immigrated to the United States in 1939, she was already an acclaimed engraver and writer in England. Not only did influential journalists and social thinkers such as Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, J. C. Squire, and N. B. Brailsford acknowledge her as a leader in the revival of wood engraving in Britain, they viewed her imagery as thematically compatible with issues they were championing
Southern Harvest was one of her first major commissions;  Accodring to Hickman
Southern Harvest is foremost a book about the common folk of a pre-industrial South, but its full content and style defy simple classification. Wood engravings showing southern agricultural practices and seasonal rituals mingle with documentary, drama, social commentary, even self-psychotherapy.
In the introduction to Southern Harvest, Leighton confesses that the book was created out of her own special need to become rooted in the American continent. She sought kinship by living among the people of the earth and by learning their habits and their lore, writing,
Leighton's wood engravings for Southern Harvest focus on several types uniquely associated with the rural South: the African American, the poor white, and the Appalachian mountain people, groups often portrayed as stereotypes in art and literature.

We are grateful to  Caroline Hickman whose article  CLARE LEIGHTON AND THE AMERICAN SOUTH, (Duke Library Magazine 2004) has been of great assistance.



Clare Leighton (1898-1989)

Clare Hope Leighton (1898 - 1989) was an English/American artist, writer and illustrator, best known for her wood engravings.

Clare Leighton was born in London on 12 April 1898[1], the daughter of
Robert Leighton (1858-1934) and Marie Connor Leighton (1865-1941),
both authors. Her early efforts at painting were encouraged by her parents and her uncle Jack Leighton, an artist and illustrator. In 1915, she began formal studies at the Brighton College of Art and later trained at the Slade School of Fine Art (1921-23), and the Central School of Arts and Crafts, where she studied wood engraving under Noel Rooke.

During the late 1920s and 1930s, Leighton visited the United States on
a number of lecture tours. In 1939, at the conclusion of a lengthy relationship with the radical journalist Henry Brailsford, she emigrated to the US and became a naturalised citizen in 1945.

Over the course of a long and prolific career, she wrote and illustrated numerous books praising the virtues of the countryside and the people who worked the land. During the 1920s and 1930s, as the world around her became increasingly technological, industrial, and urban, Leighton portrayed rural working men and women. In the 1950s she created designs for Steuben Glass, Wedgwood plates, several stained glass windows for churches in New England and for the windows of Worcester Cathedral, Massachussetts (USA).

Leighton had two brothers, Roland and Evelyn. The older brother Roland
Leighton, immortalised in Vera Brittain's memoir, Testament of Youth,
was killed in action, December 1915. Evelyn became a captain in the Royal Navy and died in 1969.

The best known of her books are The Farmer's Year (1933; a calendar of
English husbandry), Four Hedges - A Gardener's Chronicle (1935; the
development of a garden from a meadow she had bought in the Chilterns)
and Tempestuous Petticoat; The story of an invincible Edwardian (1948;
describing her childhood and her bohemian mother). Autobiographical
text and illustrations are available in "Clare Leighton: the growth and shaping of an artist-writer", published 2009.

See all works by Clare Leighton