Julian Trevelyan (1910 - 1988)

Etching and aquatint


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© Courtesy of the artist's estate/Bridgeman Art Library

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  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road
    This quirky print is one of a suite of prints that Trevelyan completed after visiting Florence that feature important landmarks in and around the city, including the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio. On Easter Sunday every year, Florence celebrates the religious holiday with a festival known as Scoppio del Carro, or the ‘Explosion of the Cart’, dating back over 350 years. An elaborate wagon built in 1622, standing two to three storeys high, is pulled by oxen decorated in garlands through the streets of Florence to the square between the Baptistry and the Cathedral. 

    Overall the style, with its sparse calligraphy and naïve drawing, is reminiscent of both Paul Klee and Joan Miró, artists that Trevelyan particularly admired. Best known for his Surrealist works of the 1930s, Trevelyan particularly relished depicting rural landscapes and lively cityscapes. Employing innovative and witty techniques, he displayed a zeal for discovering new ways of interpreting places.

  • About the artist
    Julian Trevelyan, a painter and printmaker, was born in Dorking in Surrey. He read English Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1928 to 1930, and it was here that he was introduced to French painting and Surrealism. He left Cambridge to move to Paris in 1931, where he attended the important printmaking studio Atelier 17, run by English artist Stanley William Hayter. Atelier 17 attracted both up-and-coming artists and established ones, and Trevelyan worked alongside the likes of Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. The influence of these two artists’ works can be seen in Trevelyan’s Surrealist prints of the early 1930s. Trevelyan returned to England in 1934, and two years later, a number of his works were selected for the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936. He joined the English Surrealist Group the following year, but resigned in 1938. At this time he was also involved in the photography project ‘Mass Observation’, an anthropological approach to studying working class life. During the Second World War, Trevelyan was employed in camouflage work and was sent to Africa and the Middle East. In 1950 he was made a member of the London Group and painted a series of murals for the Festival of Britain. He taught at Chelsea School of Art from 1950 to 1955, in which year he became a tutor of engraving at the Royal College of Art. He was later made head of the etching department, and held this post until 1963. Trevelyan’s book Etching, Modern Methods of Intaglio Printmaking (published in 1963), was a key work on modern printmaking, and in 1965 he became a founder member of the Printmakers’ Council. Trevelyan travelled widely with his second wife, the artist Mary Fedden, often producing sketches on his travels, which he would then work up into paintings or prints on his return. He was awarded a Senior Fellowship of the Royal College of Art in 1986 and the following year was appointed a Royal Academician. He died in Hammersmith, London, in 1988.
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    Materials & Techniques
    etching, aquatint
  • Details
    Portfolio Title
    Artists' Choice
    Etching and aquatint
    height: 30.50 cm, width: 30.80 cm
    Purchased from the Royal College of Art, November 2007
    below image: 45/48 / Julian Trevelyan
    Royal College of Art
    GAC number