Monday, 23 January 2017

Richard Eurich: the Correspondence with Sydney Schiff in the Tate Archives

In March, 2016 I spent a few days at the Tate Archives in London where I was able to copy the entire correspondence, and I then started transcribing the whole collection. This I continued when I arrived six weeks later in Trieste, spending each morning in the municipal library transcribing the letters into my notebooks, with the intention of typing these up ready for further research and annotation by myself. Unfortunately I began to be very ill, and having returned to England I was soon in hospital and spent four months there, with a diagnosis of leukaemia. Given that I now have very little time left to live I have decided to place these images in my blog in the hope that they may be of use and interest to others. Please remember though, that copyright, I am sure, belongs to the Tate Archives in London, and their permission should be sought for their use.
There are over two hundred images below, and at the moment not all are in the correct order, though I shall try to correct this before I die.
The letters are fascinating in providing an insight into the nature of the relationship between an artist and his admirer and patron. We can sometimes get a very jaundiced view of Sydney Schiff's role as a patron of the arts, from contemporaries such as the positively evil Wyndham Lewis, and recent writers such as the nasty Richard Davenport-Hines. Sydney Schiff's relationship with Richard Eurich appears to the reader as benevolent, kindly, unobtrusive and encouraging. This is similar to the relationship he appears to have had with the artist and poet Isaac Rosenberg, whom Sydney Schiff  also befriended.
The correspondence covers the period 1938 to Schiff's death in 1944. I have included some other letters from the Tate Archives that involve Sydney Schiff, and his wife Violet.

27th August 2017

I recently purchased a copy of 'Richard Eurich (1903–1992) Visionary Artist' by Edward Chaney and Christine Clearkin, published in 2003 to mark the centenary of his birth. This is an excellent study of Eurich's work, and the first time that I have discovered a work that makes use of the letters in the Tate Archive. The essay by Christine Clearkin is especially impressive for this: she has clearly closely studied the correspondence between Richard Eurich and Sydney Schiff.
Of course, I approach the correspondence from a very different viewpoint, as I try to understand Sydney Schiff the person, and his role as a patron of the arts and of artists. What I have realised as I study Sydney Schiff is the depth of English antisemitism, and how pernicious it was. Having just read Galya Diment's book 'A Russian Jew of Bloomsbury' brings this home to me forcefully. Sydney Schiff is often described as Jewish, and often disparagingly. of course he was Christian and an Anglican, though his father Alfred was indeed born a Jew. I am horrified b people such as D.H. Lawrence and his outrageous antisemitism, along with that of Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Katherine Mansfield, David Garnett and others, who could also be counted as friends of Sydney Schiff, or at least as acquaintances.
Richard Eurich also shared with Sydney Schiff a German-Jewish ancestry, which I have hardly ever seen mentioned. I think his paternal grandparents, or more likely great grandparents were Jewish. This might explain some of the empathy he shared with Sydney Schiff, much as seems to have been the case for Sydney Schiff with Isaac Rosenberg, though Rosenberg came from a hugely different background to that of Richard and Sydney. Richard Eurich's sympathies come through particularly in his painting of persecuted Jews at Dachau, as he imagined them. Entitled 'The Internees', it was painted in 1943.
Sydney Schiff appears to have been an essentially shy, reserved and modest man. He carefully saved the letters he received and which are now a valuable archive held in the British Library. However, very little that he wrote himself survives, except for his books. We are fortunate that Richard Eurich saved the letters that he received from Sydney. There are no Sydney Schiff papers, no manuscripts of his works, no diaries or notebooks. I believe this was partly because of his wife Violet, who was his muse but also his harshest critic. It is interesting, for example, to compare the 1926 edition of 'Richard, Myrtle and I', with the new, posthumous edition published in 1962 but extremely heavily edited by Violet, so that instead of 250 pages there are 43. Most of that new edition is taken up with the biographical note and introductory essay by Theophilus E.M. Boll.

'The Internees', 1943




Richard Eurich in 1936


Richard Eurich with Mavis and two of their children

Richard Eurich, a self-portrait, 1938


Richard Eurich





The Correspondence





8813.26
[Ans'd 11/1/38]
"Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Nr Southampton

10th January 1838

Dear Mr Schiff,
Mr Nan Kivell of the Redfern Gallery tells me that you have purchased my painting 'Dorset Landscape', and that you are very enthusiastic about it.
It gives me great pleasure when I hear of anything like this, as sometimes months go by and things seem completely dead.
I can not say exactly where this landscape is; my wife and I were lost on the road somewhere between Wimbourne and Blandford, we found ourselves surrounded by lovely downs and those Roman and prehistoric elements fairly common in Dorset. I remember having the same feeling about itall as A. E. Housman puts it in his mystic "Wenlock Edge". I will try and find out where it was, it may have been nearer Dorchester, it has much of Maiden Castle in it, but it was much further north.
Your interest in my work has given me great encouragement, and I hope I shall be able to do what I want in the future, but it is difficult as you know.
I am at present working on a set of paintings done from drawings made of Newlyn, Mousehole and other Cornis fishing villages. I shall be interested to hear what you think of them when they are shown at the Redfern Gallery in May.
Two of them are an experiment in proportion, being very long for their height.
It is a pity the days are so short in winter as I usually feel I can work much longer hours.
I hope we shall see you some time in the near future.
Yours very sincerely
Richard Eurich






Western 60…

One A, Ilchester Place
W.14
11 1/38

Dear Richard Eurich
Many thanks for your kind informative letter which gives me the contact with you I have wanted ever since I first saw your work at the Redfern Gallery then in Bond Street. My first purchases were the two little heads of girls, the one blonde, the other brunette, which charmed me by their directness and spontaneity. Some little time later I acquired a small oil painting of a sea-shore with boats and a jetty in the background.This picture like almost all of your things gives me an impression of vitality, of the power to capture the significant and essential in an every day scene without the intrusion of incongruous elements. In other words where you seem to me to differ from many if not most of the younger contemporary artists is in your complete unselfconsciousness. You ley your subject express itself through your sensibility instead of imposing your consciousness on the subject. From then on I followed your development as far as I could at exhibitions, incidentally adding another example of your work, a brilliant flower-painting which stood out from all the others at the Redfern at their floral show.
But neither these four pictures nor those bought by my nephew Edward behrens nor the others at different exhibitions prepared me for the remarkable development presented by "Dorset Landscape". To my thinking this is on an altogether higher plane of artistic achievement to the others — a painting of the highest quality in design, in composition, in colour, in atmosphere and in content, a really beautiful and complete work of art. And to my delight it is just as spontaneous and natural and unself-conscious as the two girls' heads which first attracted me to you.
I have been living with Dorset Landscape and studying it constantly under every condition of lighting both here and in the country ever since I got it and the more familiar I become with every detail of it, the greater my admiration and my feeling of certainty that only very rare gifts and a very exacting […] application could have produced such an outstanding work. My earnest hope is that you will continue to grow from strength to strength and that you will pursue the even tenour of your way regardless of exterior influences, criticisms and interferences, confident in your own sincerity of vision and essential rightness.
I trust you will not think it presumptious of me to write you thus but put it down to my sense of your unique value and my intense desire that you should by following your own intuitions fulfil the immense promise this picture contains. With it as a standard of achievement you cannot fail to do justice to your outstanding talent. It is my great wish to make your acquaintance at an early opportunity. Later on in the spring you may perhaps allow me to motor down to Dibden to see you and at the same time make the acquaintance of Mrs Eurich.
Meanwhile your account of the works you are engaged on deeply interests me and I shall look forward impatiently to seeing them finished.
With my warmest wishes
Yours very sincerely
Sydney Schiff



8813.28 [?]
[@nd Copy ……?]
c/o W. D. Wilkinson
2, Gloucester Walk,
Church Street
Kensington. W.8

30th April 1938

Dear Mr Schiff,
I expect you have received one of these cards, but I thought I would just let you know how pleased we should be to see you at the gallery on Thursday afternoon. We shall be in London from Monday till Friday at the above address if we could see you at any other time.
Yours sincerely,
Richard Eurich


Tel: Abinger…
Dorking North 5 1/2 miles
Gomshall 3 miles

Abinger Manor
Abinger Common
Nr Dorking

9.x.39

Dear Eurich,
It would give me much pleasure to hear from you in these distressful and eventful days.
Are you able to paint and if so what subjects?
How are you and your wife?
We are here 'for the duration' and we are dismantling our London house and storing the contents, not for fear of bombing but as measures of economy.
So far it is as peaceful here as though war were not but we can't expect this happy state of things (not that […] any more than others can be happy in a world given over to fire and flame) to last. There is bound to be air-fighting within this radius of London when the enemy starts bombing operations and there may well be a rush of panic-stricken refugees if and when the attacks are made in the populous quarters, in every direction.
Hoping for your news
Yours very sincerely
Sydney Schiff





Dear Mr Schiff,
Thank you very much for your letter. I am more than ever convinced of telepathy!
My wife began speaking about you yesterday, and I remarked that I had only been thinking about you yesterday morning, and here is a letter from you dated yesterday!
I intended writing to you before long, and as a matter of fact we nearly called on you a few weeks ago on our way back from London. But we were in rather a hurry and very dirty after having done all the things we had to do. To begin with, I am holding a show at the Redfern Gallery next month. Private view on the 2nd I believe. I am rather nervous about it as it is rather earlier than I intended, and I am uneasy about the quality of the work. It has been such slow uphill work producing under the present conditions, and a few of the best paintings done since my last show were sold earlier this year. The subjects are still ships etc. I hope you do not think this is too much of a groove. And I am afraid I have to keep my eye on sales.
There are a couple of Forest landscapes which are as good as the ships, but Nan Kivell just smiles and says they are "not my picture".
I think in some of the seascapes there is a hint of something which I have not got before, but it will not be apparent to the casual observer. In fact they may look more commonplace.
Early this summer I went up to York, which I am very fond of. And then went on a cargo boat from Hull to Antwerp and Dunkerque. I enjoyed it very much, and since then I have been painting some memories of the trip. 
Then also, last Autumn my wife and I went up to the Yorkshire coast. I believe you have seen some of the results of that trip. Bit I felt very upset at the change that has taken place in those fishing villages since I was a boy. Whitby's large harbour is empty of crafy, and Staithes the same, and no painters go near the places now, but they are full of melancholy beauty and much more difficult to paint than the picturesque Cornish harbours.
At the outbreak of war, I put my brush down and thought that would be the last of painting for some time to come. I enquired about getting work on a farm, but it is almost impossible to get it at this time of the year. I went to our local dairy farmer and asked him if I could practise milking his cows. I have been at it for a month and have enjoyed it so much. The smell and warmth and exercise combined made me feel "This is the life for me". But unfortunately a nerve in my right arm has got strained, and I have had to give it up, as my hand was constantly numb when painting.
You may wonder what my attitude to this war is after hearing from Nan Kivell that he wanted me to have a show, I started painting again, and I feel that I shall just go on painting until I am stopped by force. It seems to be my duty to do so. How we are going to manage financially I don't know. My wife may have to […] after our boy.
I hope it won't shock you when I say that I am quite fairly resolved not to fight in this war. It can not possibly settle anything. I wonder why it is that people refuse to learn by experience. It is the one thing that fills me with dismay concerning the future of humanity.
One can not go into this enormous subject in a letter. certainly there is not the general feeling of animosity that there was in the last war. Talking to the working men around here, they nearly all feel that fighting is no good and no one the better for it, but they allow themselves to be driven in the same way as the German people do, and have not the courage to make their feelings heard. I offered my services as a part time ambulance driver, but after a time it was rejected as they only wanted whole time drivers at pay so small that a family man could not possibly do it. Meanwhile I am planning how to make the most of the garden for food produce. We have had very good potatoes and greens this year. I am also helping my father to lay out his ground for the same purpose. The days seem to go so quickly with so much to do.
Now, I hope you won't mind me asking if you could make your influence felt among the people you know who might be interested in my forthcoming show?
I do hope you will be able to see it yourself and give me some helpful advice and criticism. I don't know whether we shall be able to be at the private view or not, it is an expensive journey by train and the petrol rationing prohibits the use of the car. We all send our very kind regards to you and Mrs Schiff.
Yours sincerely
Richard Eurich



8813.31
…Your flower picture, two shore pictures and the two little heads which first brought me to you. The deserted […] and harbours […]. Now perhaps they are filling up […] ships of every kind are being built at great speed.

Abinger Manor,
Abinger Common,
Nr Dorking

12.x.39

Dear Eurich,
No misters please, plain 'Schiff' is good enough. telepathy is an old and familiar experience with me especially between my wife and myself. We constantly find ourselves answering each other's unasked questions or continuing an unspoken conversation.
Sorry you didn't call in here. We should have welcomed  you heartily.
It won't be easy for me to go to your show. I can just manage to get driven to London and back once every three weeks for an indispensable orthopaedic visit, being too weak in my legs, short-winded and subject to exhaustion to risk crowded trains etc. Our chauffeur has joined the auxiliary police and can only manage to drive me at long intervals. I shall do my best for I want to see your recent work very much. You must not expect to sell much. No-one has any money to spare and you will be doing very well if you can pay expenses and a few pounds over in times like these. Nevertheless you are well-advised to have a show not only to keep your work before the public — quite as much for the stimulus to go on producing. Indeed I shall tell anyone I can think of about it but I must explain that our circle is a restricted and intimate one in which there is not a single wealthy individual; mostly our acquaintance is youthful and very impecunious. Our own resources are considerably reduced and we have many calls on them. This is discouraging for you but it is better  to be frank. I am very conscious of how badly artists are hit in times like these. Some are doing camouflage work, others cartoons for propaganda etc. War is of all things the most terrible— no man can hate the thought of it more than I do. Violence breeds violence and can never solve the problems of humanity. But there are exceptional cases where a native must draw the sword to defend something dearer than life itself and I truly believe that this war, which will at best impoverish us for generations and destroy the existing bases of social and economic organisation and at worst involve us to an indefensible degree in the anarchy and […] which will be the inevitable consequence on the continent (if indeed it does not extend to Africa and Asia) is so far as we are concerned a righteous war and we should have been for ever dishonoured if we had shrunk from it.
I assume "the 2nd" means the 2nd November and that I shall get a card from Kivell.
The first pictures sound particularly attractive. I long to see them. My kindest and best remembrances and wishes to you both.
Yours very sincerely
Sydney Schiff




[3.xi.39 Answered telling him I shall go to the show if possible.]

"Appletreewick"
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

31 October 1939

Dear Schiff,
Thank you so much for your second letter. My show is now hung at the Redfern Gallery, and Nan Kivell is quite pleased with it. The work has been weeded out considerably, and several that I should have liked to have been in the show are not hung, but we thought that a single line of paintings was best, and the new large ones look the better for this method of hanging. There is one there that was in my last show, I thought it was one of the best I had done, but seeing it with the later work I feel there is no doubt whatever of a great improvement, however dissatisfied I am with what I am doing.
I only hope we shall be able to hang on so that I can go on working. I feel like it very much, and I only hope the Redfern Gallery can manage to keep open.
We had a bit of luck since I wrote to you in the form of a letter (with cheque enclosed!) from Pittsburgh U.S.A. saying my painting in the International Show was sold. We felt very cheered over it.
We are very sorry to hear of your lameness and other ailments. We would have been very pleased to have seen you at the Private View, but of course quite understand your being unable to come. If you do find an opportunity to look in, I should be pleased to hear your reactions. If ever we are in your neighbourhood again, we will certainly call on you. We both send our kind regards to you both.
Yours sincerely,
Richard Eurich.




Abinger Manor
Abinger Common
Nr Dorking

16.xi.39

Dear Eurich,
I went to your show yesterday and thought it extremely good, showing rich development of technique and composition and in every way confirming my early conviction that your potential power would reveal itself cumulatively.
The 'Dorset Cove' is a consummate work and I'm delighted it has gone to a Public Gallery. Perhaps to my taste the most perfect example of all your qualities […] in the work is 'Old Fawley Mill', which had it not already found a discriminating purchaser, I could not have resisted at the tempting price although I am now not able to buy anything I can, reluctantly, do without. The whole collection is up to so high a standard that it is difficult to pick out single canvases as more accomplished than others, each having its own excellenece.
Nan Kivell told me you are somewhat disturbed in your mind about what you ought to do. Apart altogether from your attitude towards military service for which you are obviously unsuited as is every highly sensitive artist, there is to my mind no question that the last service you can render is to go on with your painting. There are but few painters who can be regarded as representing different unique expressions of their art. Of these you are one and in all sincerity I urge you to devote your whole thought and vital energy to the highest achievement your creative power can encompass without doubt or hesitation as to its being your right course. It is possible that you may be unconsciously as well as consciously affected by the prevailing anxieties and preoccupations and that these may later influence the character of your work. If so, I think you should accept and meditate such an influence and not resist against it. One's mental and emotional climate is not subject to one's will and the relief of self-expression is the urgent need of an artist, especially at the cost of pain and struggle.
With kindest remembrances to you both and my warm wishes for your continued activity
Yours very sincerely,
Sydney Schiff



Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Nr Southampton

19th November 1939

Dear Schiff,
Thank you so much for your kind letter the other day.
I think the fact that you approve of the latest paintings of mine, gives me more pleasure and stimulus to go on working than anything else that has happened. I am not really convinced in my mind as to what I ought to do, I have no doubt whatever that it is my duty to myself and as a citizen to make the fullest possible use of the gifts that have been given to me, and I am not one of those who feel they just can't work in such restless times. I feel the urge more than ever before, the difficulty is just how we can live. I am still hoping that something may happen during the last week of the show which will enable us to be free from anxiety for a few months. I know Nan Kivell is doing his very best to get people interested who might be able to help me over this difficult time. So I can only wait to hear what he has to say at the end of the week.
Thank you again for your very encouraging letter hoping that you and Mrs Schiff are keeping well.
We both send our kind regards
Yours sincerely
Richard Eurich





"Appletreewick"
Dibden Purlieu
Nr Southampton

19th December 1939

Dear Mr and Mrs Schiff,
First a line to wish you the compliments of the season and the hope that the new year will bring some sanity and Peace to the world.
We hope you are both enjoying your health and feel the benefit for being in the country.
I love the trees at this time of the year, the colour is so sombre and delicate. I feel I must do some of this kind of landscape. I can not think why Constable never touched a winter landscape.
I am just taking a short rest till Christmas before getting to work again. I am making a few toys for nephews and our own son, who is now four years old and at such a delightful age. Someone said that we learn more in the first three or four years of our life than all the other years we have to live, a depressing thought but perhaps true.
I hope we shall hear from you from time to time. Letters are so valuable to those of us who live out of towns in these days. The contact is in such contrast to the hasty bulletins and reports in the Press.
Greetings from us both,
Yours sincerely,
Richard Eurich.





[Answered from Dorchester Hotel 9.vii.40]

"Appletreewick"
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

19 June 1940

Dear Schiff,
It has been on my conscience for some time that I have been very negligent in not writing to you. I do hope you and Mrs Schiff are in good health and bearing up under the strain of such uncertain conditions under which we now live.
W are doing our best to work and pursue those things dear to us.
The little school my wife started is rapidly dwindling away after a very good start of the summer term. It is a pity, but can't be helped. I have been working up till late at night in the garden and am glad to say the vegetables are doing well, and the flower garden does not look too bad considering the quantity of plants destroyed by the frost and the fact that we could not buy anything like the amount of annuals we usually do.
After months of nothing doing in the way of picture sales we have had a bit of luck. First the Pilgrim Trust asked me if I would take part in their scheme of recording England. I said I would — and then a few days later the Ministry of Information asked me if I would paint a couple of pictures for the Admiralty. Naturally this interested me, and though the sum offered was not large it has been the means of saving us from ever increasing financial difficulties. I went on to the Yorkshire coast to get the material for these paintings. I have completed them now and am waiting to hear of the committee's final opinion. They were delighted with the first one.
A hint was given me at the Admiralty that if I did the job well I might stand a chance of something more permanent in the mercantile Service, which would be the very thing for me.
I am not interested in the financial side as long as we can make ends meet, my ambition is to paint a series of marine paintings which would carry on our tradition which seems to me to have been lost. To incorporate fine design into a seascape is one of the most difficult things. I have suggested that the epic of Dunkirk must be painted and hoped that I would not be overlooked. I have had no reply as yet.
I painted a large canvas for the R.A. and it was well hung, and I understand that I was within a vote or two of being elected an associate. This does not mean very much to me except that I might get better prices — then the marvellous day came! Nan Kivell wrote saying my large 'Antwerp' had been purchased for the Chantry bequest and a couple of hours later atelegram came from him saying my R.A. painting had been purchased for 200 gns! I must confess that we made the rest of that day into a holiday! My only hope now is that we shall see some of that money! The Chantry one was bought for 100 gns.
We have had a few night disturbances here and are likely to have very much more now, as I am a voluntary A.R.P. Ambulance driver, I have to turn out whenever there is an alarm. It is very difficult for me to uphold my scruples concerning military service in these times. I understand that even the R.A.M.C. are obliged to be armed, otherwise I would ask to be allowed to enter that when I am called up. But I feel so genuinely that painting must go on, I have English art so much at heart. I wonder what is happening to all the great French painters and those foreign artists who took refuge in France. If the Arts fail now, it seems as though civilization ends. It is heartening that painters are being used more than in the last war, but whether it will continue remains to be seen.
My wife and I send our very kind regards to you both.
Yours sincerely
Richard Eurich.




The Dorchester Hotel
London
9.vii.40

Dear Eurich,
Not only catastrophic events are accountable for my only replying now to your letter of the 19th June. On that day my wife was operated for a rather complex appendicitis which owing to the failure of several doctors to diagnose it as the cause of a long illness had reached an acute stage. She is now convalescent though it will be a considerable time before her strength returns sufficiently for her to resume her normal activities. Meanwhile we have evacuated Abinger (the operation was performed at the London Clinic) and are staying here until we can move into 44 York terrace NW1 lent us by Edward behrens who, as I think you know, is my wife's nephew.
I am delighted to hear about the Pilgrim Trust and Ministry of Information commissions. They could not have made a better choice. I hope the hint from the Admiralty will materialise; that is indeed your job and will enable you if you get it and are given free scope to do something memorable and permanent. And the sale of the R.A. is grand. No wonder you celebrated — plus the Chantry too! You are certainly in luck, a rare thing these days. I feel a certain pride in having been among the earliest to recognise your outstanding gifts and realise the certainty of your potential development of them. As to the refugees in France I hardly can bear to think about them. The Austrians, Germans, Czechs, Poles and other enemies of the Nazi regime are to be handed over as part of Petain's infamous bargain as the price of capitulation. That and the surrender of the French fleet are the culminating conditions of the most abominable and dishonouring truce in history.
Forgive me if I close on that comment. I find it impossible now to do more than express my satisfaction at your fine advance, my earnest wishes for your future and my warm and friendliest regard in which your dear wife is of course included.
Do let me hear from you when you feel disposed. I shall continue to follow your career with lively and sympathetic interest.
Yours very sincerely
Sydney Schiff.







"Appletreewick"
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

30 August 1940
(Please forgive this notepaper!)

Dear Schiff,
I am very sorry I have not written to you sooner to say how I sympathize with you in your trouble. I do hope your wife has made a speedier recovery than you thought possible.
I have been through much mental strain as to the wisest course to be taken with my small family. I believe I told you that my wife and son had gone not far away out of the danger zone. As luck would have it, they had bombs dropped round them soon after, so to come home seemed the only thing for the moment, and then we had a long spell of quiet. Then raisa began again. My small boy did not know anything about air raids of course, and we did our best to keep his mind clear of such things, but a small girl friend of his told him all about it! and we found his little active mind was very exercised about it. The guns were his chief worry as we have several only a short distance from us. To make matters worse, my parents-in-law developed 'nerves' which of course was communicated to him. At length he asked of his own accord whether he could not go where there were no guns, this touched me very much, particularly his solicitude for our safety as well. he is not five years old yet. The situation is not without its humorous side. We found him making air raid shelters for spiders in the garden!
Then fortunately my wife's brother-in-law got a job in Manchester. They live some miles out where there are no guns. So we took him up there. He is on very good terms with his little cousins, so I hope he won't miss us. My parents-in-law have also left here I am glad to say. My own parents are calm, and just go on working in their garden.
I have been constantly on ambulance duty, which has broken into my time considerably. After I painted the two pictures of the Yorkshire coast for the Admiralty I put out a feel concerning more work. They said Cundell had got the job as they felt "sorry for him"! I thought that Dunkirk was a subject to be painted, but found that he had been given that to do! But a few days later I had a letter from the Ministry of Information offering me the job also! The work is now on view at the National Gallery. My painting has had quite good notices in the press, but the critics all seem to want hectic illustrations of a magazine kind, so they like Cundell's formless vulgar work very much. I suppose mine is "tidy" and lacking in drama of the kind they want, but I feel the clap-trap of the usual war pictures is worn out, so I painted the setting as near as I could remember it, making many distortions so as to get the plan of it in. Whether any more work will be forthcoming I don't know. But I am starting a larger "Dunkirk" on my own, Nan Kivell wishes to have a show of it and a few other works in November, all being well. I do admire the way he struggles on with that gallery, and I only hope he can keep going as I don't know what will happen to the young painters if he gives up. Of course, I may have to register at any time, and I shall put my name down for police or fireman, though I have doubts as to whether I shall be fit enough for these jobs. Unlike most painters I hear of, I still have a passion for painting, and consider it my work of national importance whatever other people may think about such an attitude. So I can only hope I can keep on with it somehow. I hope I am not trying to avoid the big issues, but there still are thousands of men out of work who can do the jobs I might be called upon to do, and do it better than I. The idea that Turner or Constable and many lesser men would have served their country better by fighting Napoleon is ridiculous. We certainly live in terrible times, and yet I must confess to happiness! Not the carefree kind of course, far from it. I suppose the urgency of things makes the good things, however small, so much brighter. I hope you still manage to extract some pleasure out of life? I have been in London just for a few hours once or twice lately, and was struck by the festive crowds, it seemed a real holiday centre. I wonder if the raids will make much difference.
My wife joins me in sending our very best wishes to you both and hoping you are both well.
Yours sincerely
Richard Eurich.



[wrote 8/10/40]
"Appletreewick"
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

20 Sept 1940

Dear Schiff,
Thank you very much for your letter. I am glad to hear you are back at Abinger again, no doubt it is uncomfortable there, but better than being in London at the present time! First I must thank you very much for offering to help me over my difficulties with regard to being called up. I shall be very glad when the time comes to avail myself of that assistance. I had a talk with Nan Kivell the other day about it, and having seen a photo of the "Dunkirk" painting, he said he was sure he could get some people of influence together to help. He thinks it would be ridiculous waste for anyone who could do work of that sort to be doing anything else.
Since I last wrote to you I had a most gratifying letter from the Admiralty saying how pleased they were with the latest work. It has those qualities they have been wanting, and until now have never turned up. So they are asking me to do some more work, which is very cheering.
I found the Redfern Gallery somewhat smashed up with the bomb that hit the top of the Burlington Arcade. But business was going on as usual, a painting of mine which was in the window had its glass completely shattered and the frame knocked about, but the painting itself was without a scratch! I only hope the latest bombing hasn't done more damage to the premises. Nan Kivell was quite indignant at the idea of closing down.
I am sending you a photograph of the Dunkirk painting. Unfortunately they have cut it down a bit so that the ships in the foreground have suffered and the winding up of the design in the right hand bottom corner is not evident. But it may give you some idea.
I am glad to hear Mrs Schiff is recovering under difficult circumstances.
Of all our friends all over the country, only one who lives in the heart of Wales, has not been visited by bombs.
We both send our very kind regards and best wishes.
Yours sincerely
Richard Eurich.




Abinger Manor,
Abinger Common
Nr Dorking
9.ix.40

Dear Eurich,
Very pleased to hear from you but sorry and not surprised your little son's nervous system has been affected by this abominable air warfare. One more affliction for which humanity has to thank misapplied science. Frankenstein is at the mercy of the monster he has created. I'm glad you got him away to less harassed surroundings.
I am almost completely out of touch with London now, having been unable to go there for enough time to visit friends or galleries since we returned here July 26th after my wife's recovery from her appendicitis operation. I wish I could see your Dunkirk painting but owing to the recent intensification of air attacks and consequent risk, even likelihood of being caught on a road during a raid and condemned to being held up for an uncertain time in a shelter, I have practically given up attempting the journey for the present. By December weather conditions may reduce air activities and give me a chance of seeing your large Dunkirk. That would be a great inducement to me.
I have never heard of Cundell. {Charles Cundall} Being sorry for a man doesn't seem a good reason for a Government department wasting public money.
I hope you can escape having to sacrifice your painting to national services which have deprived us of an excellent chauffeur. He is making an excellent policeman and we gladly accepted his doing so but it's a melancholy prospect for you and one I earnestly hope will fade away. Your work emphatically is of national importance which is more than can be said of that produced by certain other artists (?) who have nevertheless been exempted on that ground. Moreover I imagine that the work of a fire or policeman calls for a physical fitness as great as a soldier's under present conditions and is as risky. Surely among the admirers and possessors of examples of your distinguished achievements there must be persons of influence who are in a position to urge the appropriate authority to leave you unmolested in the pursuit of your vocation. Perhaps the necessary steps had not [?] be taken if and when you are called up. Such people as Kenneth Clark and John Rothenstein could be helpful in this direction. I don't know the former but the second is a friend to whom I could write when the time comes if you would like me to.
When I last saw Nan Kivell he told me that the Redfern was doing astonishingly well and I think he will manage to hang on. I have been told that quite a number of people are buying contemporary paintings as an investment.
Our life is, of course, more circumscribed but otherwise we are carrying on our quiet normal existence despite frequent air alarms. The nights have been disturbed of late owing to air fights over our heads and a couple of bombs fell within one to three miles of this house. My wife is slowly accustoming herself to these unpleasant disturbances, a great relief to me for her lack of sleep was impairing her increasing vitality. I find my deafness a positive advantage and can sleep through any raids though I've no doubt a bomb close under our noses not to speak of in the roof would […] me as much as anyone else. I'm not a fatalist but I am a believer in Providence to whom I entrust our fate. But I never leave here for a moment longer than I can help and we take cover at once when a warning comes or when activity overhead sounds suspicious.
With warm regards to you both and hoping to hear from you again before long.
Yours very sincerely
Sydney Schiff






8813.41

Abinger Manor
Abinger Common
Nr Dorking
8.x.40

Dear Eurich
Many thanks for sending me the photo of Dunquerque painting. Of course the paint would show up the values in relation to each other as no photographic reproduction can. For instance that great voluminous cloud of smoke in the photo dominates everything so much that the troops on the sands and the crowded vessels in the foreground look insignificant. Possibly in the original there are flashes of flame where the quays and wharfs have been set on fire but I can see no trace of them in this. Obviously it is talented work but I can form no opinion of it in this showing especially as the proportions and pattern must have been affected by the cutting.
I am very glad your painting at the Redfern wasn't damaged.
I've written to John Rothenstein (curator of Tait [sic] Gallery) about you but posts are so irregular that it may be some time before I receive his reply. Will tell you as soon as I hear.
Yes. The bombs are ubiquitous which is, one supposes, what the Nazi murderers want. But hereabouts people ignore whatever the danger may be and when there's a "dog-fight" going stand and gaze at it, women the same as men.
Forgive this hasty scrawl and with kindest remembrances to you both believe me
Yours very sincerely
Sydney Schiff
Tell Nan Kivell to ask John Rothenstein to join the "people of influence" he thinks would help you, and mention my name.









8813.42

"Appletreewick"
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

21 Oct 1940

Dear Schiff,
Thank you very much for the return of the photograph and your letter with it, and now for the trouble you have taken writing to John Rothenstein on my behalf.
I hardly expected somehow that he would do anything about it as I myself quite agree that making any sort of exceptions would lead to all sorts of unpleasantness. If they will make an exception of me by giving me work of national importance to do, that is another matter.
As a matter of fact, I have just about ceased to think about all these difficulties, as life for all of us is just from one day to another and I just go on with my work trying to do my best. it doesn't look as though there will be much more calling up for some time, and I have heard that there may be more calling on the younger men in the future. I want to make a real job of my large Dunkirk painting, even if it takes me another couple of months.
I am hoping very much that the Admiralty will consider a series of historical paintings of English ports, at present the scheme [?] is held up as the military are fussy because of this invasion idea. The Navy is quite helpful. But I may hear any time that I can go ahead.
I am sorry the photo of 'Dunkirk' was so misleading, the sky which is blue came out white so that it threw up the smoke too much, and the whites and blues in the foreground seem to have fogged the lens so that the dark shapes were false in tone. Shortly after I wrote to you I was sent a larger and much better photograph. I showed it to wadsworth and he liked it very much, but I am glad to say he was very critical and had some suggestions to make.
I hope you are both well and not getting quite as much activity over head as you were doing. We are all well and things are comparatively quiet, but I shall not be surprised if we have a sudden series of attacks by day and night.
This is not a proper letter. I will write again when the spirit moves me if you don't mind.
I have often wondered whether you are writing at all now. The novel you gave me excited my curiosity very much and I would like to read more from the same pen!
we both send our very best regards to you and your wife.
Yours sincerely
Richard Eurich




8813.43

"Appletreewick"
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

3 March 1941

Dear Schiff,
We were very glad to receive your letter after Xmas, but very sorry to hear your wife was still far from well. You said you were going to write later, and as we have not heard again, I do hope it does not mean things have taken a turn for the worse.
I must first tell you that I am in luck. When it was learned that I would shortly have to register, one or two people put feelers out with the result that I have been given the job of official artist to the Admiralty for five or six months, and if I do what they expect of me I shall no doubt get an extension, which is all very gratifying. So I am now that "peculiar" object, a Captain in the Royal Marines! and I am working at Portsmouth, which makes it possible for me to live at home, a great advantage, as my wife would not care to stay here alone at nights. We have had so much unpleasantness, and the fire watching is so urgent.
Evidently my painting of Portland pleased the Admiralty very much, so I do hope I shall continue to satisfy them.
You will no doubt receive an invitation card to my forthcoming show at the redfern Gallery of my large "Dunkirk". I know you will not be able to come up to town. If it photographs at all well I will send you a copy, though I feel you will not care for the work. It has been done under great difficulties and I am anything but satisfied. But Nan Kivell has been so good, and he finds it increasingly difficult to find any work to show. I admire him tremendously for going on with things as he is doing. He came down to see us and saw the painting in a half-completed state and urged me to let him show it. So there it is.
We are fortunately all very well, and my contact with so many decent men at Portsmouth is, I find, going to do me a world of good.
We all send our very best wishes to you both.
Yours very sincerely
Richard Eurich






































































































































































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