The portfolio of fifteen drawings by Wyndham Lewis, 1919 : a historical, technical and critical analysis
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The aim of this thesis is to explore the nature of the portfolio of Fifteen Drawings by Wyndham Lewis as a work of graphic art. Questions regarding the publishing, printing and criticism of the portfolio are the basis for the discussion in this thesis. In chapter one the nature of the Ovid Press (which published and printed the portfolio), is placed into a historical context by making some comparisons with other contemporary British private presses. Lewis's portfolio is then set in context by analyzing some other Ovid Press productions. They included portfolios by Gaudier-Brzeska and Edward Wadsworth. The printing of the portfolio of Fifteen Drawings is then analyzed with an accompanying description of the techniques and processes involved. Historical evidence is used to illuminate Lewis's involvement in the printing process and his dealings with the Ovid Press in general. Chapter three involves an analysis of the critical reception of the portfolio. This explores the currency of art criticism and discusses to what extent the critics fully understood the nuances of Lewis's art, c.1920. The fourth chapter offers an interpretation regarding Lewis's choice of the fifteen drawings included in the folio. This requires a detailed analysis of the themes of Lewis's art from 1912-1919 as the drawings in the portfolio offer a retrospective of his art covered by this period. In conclusion the importance of the portfolio to both Lewis's own career and its significance to the avant-garde in British art has been evaluated. As an appendix, the production of the portfolio is discussed in terms of its social significance and as an alternative to publication merely to serve the commercial art market. This includes a review of Lewis's involvement in the Arts League of Service portfolio scheme c.1924.
Thesis, MLitt Master of Letters
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