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.

2020: I have resumed transcribing these letters, interrupted by my illness.

EXHIBITION CATALOGUES

1980, Bradford

1991, Imperial War Museum

1994, Southampton
One of the first mentions of the correspondence with Sydney Schiff.

2003, Southampton
A catalogue that lso makes use of the Schiff correspondence.
2019, London



Richard Eurich in 1936


Richard Eurich with Mavis and two of their children, Crispin and Caroline.

Richard Eurich, a self-portrait, 1938


Richard Eurich





The Correspondence





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

10th January 1938

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 it all 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 Cornish 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


Rex Nan Kivell
Newlyn Harbour (1937)
Mousehole Harbour, Cornwall. Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums







Western 60…

One A, Ilchester Place
W.14
11.I/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 let 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



Richard Eurich, R.A. (1903-1992)Head of a Girlsigned and dated 'R.EURICH 1930' (upper left), signed again and inscribed 'HEAD OF A GIRL/Richard Eurich' (on a label attached to the frame)oil on board8¾ x 7 in. (22.2 x 17.8 cm.)Provenancewith Redfern Gallery, London, where purchased by Sidney Schiff Esq. on 30 March 1933.




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. But 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 craft, 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


The Cod and Lobster, Staithes:- signed R. Eurich and dated 1934 bottom right also inscribed in pencil on the stretcher oil on canvas 40.5 x 50.5cm
Red Roofs, Robin Hood's Bay, Yorkshire, 1938




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 excellence.
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


 Dorset Cove, 1939.


Old Fawley Mill. Southampton City Art Gallery



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 a telegram 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.

Antwerp 1939
Tate Gallery
N05344 ANTWERP 1939
Inscr. ‘R. Eurich 1939’ b.l.Canvas, 40×50 (101·5×127).Chantrey Purchase from the artist 1940.Exh: Redfern Gallery, November 1939 (7); C.A.S., British Painting Today, provincial tour, 1940–2 (45); R.A., 1944 (17); Works by Bradford Artists, 1851–1951, Bradford, June–August 1951 (19).
The artist visited Antwerp in a small cargo vessel in June 1939. The picture was painted in a month. The Cathedral in the centre is seen from the opposite bank of the Schelde; the building with turrets on the left is the Steen, the old Castle of Antwerp and at one time the seat of the Spanish Inquisition.




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.


Withdrawal of Dunkirk, June 1940
Dunkirk Beaches, 1940







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


Air Fight over Portland, 1940 | Imperial War Museums


8813.44
Abinger Manor,
Abinger Common,
Near Dorking,
Surrey

8th March 1941

Dear Eurich,
I was so glad to get your very nice letter and delighted to hear that you are again 'in luck'. This time it seems to me you could hardly ask for anything better especially as you have been for so long devoting yourself to subjects directly connected with the job for the Admiralty. I am glad you are a Captain in the Royal and not the Horse Marines and I feel I have been lacking in respect not to have given you your rank in addressing you. Portsmouth sounds grand and how satisfactory for you both that you can stop at home. I am sure if anybody could satisfy your chief you will and I look forward to seeing the result of your naval activities or if that is impossible that you will send me a couple of photographs to give me an idea of how you are handling your material.
I fear I am not likely to see your large 'Dunkirk' at the Redfern much as I should like to. I shall be very happy if you let me have a photograph of it. I have always had a special liking for Nan Kivell and I heartily agree that he is entitled to every encouragement one can give him for keeping his show going.
I am thankful to be able to give you much better news of my dear wife who is now convalescent after a long period of anxiety. We have every hope that she will soon be restored to her normal health.
I am particularly pleased by what you say in your last paragraph about your contact with so many decent men at Portsmouth. An artist's social environment has, I think, no little influence upon his morale which implies his creative power. There are, of course, those – especially poets – who flourish in an atmosphere of sordid misery and despair, but you, thank heaven, are not one of those and I can well believe that the buoyancy and geniality of your sailor comrades are a source of invigoration and encouragement.
With every good wish and warm regards to you both and hoping it will not be long before I hear further news of you.
Yours very sincerely,
Sydney Schiff




8813.45

Abinger Manor,
Abinger Common,
Nr Dorking

30.iv.42

Dear Eurich,
It is a long time since we exchanged letters and I rejoice that the renewal of our contact can be at the same time an opportunity for my warm and cordial congratulations on the well merited honour of your being elected an A.R.A. I missed the notice in the Press and therefore do not know the date of your election but you know that ever since your first show at the Redfern Gallery I have admired your work and have been following your development with the keenest interest and satisfaction. I know of course that many of the later generation of painters regard (or pretend to regard) that venerable Institution as unworthy of respect. So far from that being my view I have always felt that it fulfils an exceedingly important function, so important indeed that without it there would be no standard by which the technical value of british pictorial Art could be assessed. Moreover during a fairly long life (I am well into my 74th year) I have observed that when the insurgents of innovation have reached maturity, having sown their artistic wild oats, they are by no means averse to accepting inclusion among those whose merits are acknowledged by academic distinction.
It will give me lively pleasure to hear from you and to know that you and your wife are as well as can be wished, that you are able notwithstanding the trials and distractions of these tumultous and eventful days to continue your peaceful labours thus doing your share in pursuing and fostering one of the loftiest ideals of our hard-tried civilization.
Your lovely Dorsetshire landscape graces the wall of our sitting-room here and when I sit writing this in our little dining room your charming brunette  and your sprightly blonde seem to be extending their grateful appreciation to their creator.
With heartfelt good wishes to you and yours from us both and hoping for your early news.
Always yours very sincerely
Sydney Schiff
We hope the bombs of the barbarians have not disturbed your tranquillity.





Sir Edward Marsh


8813.46
Ans'd 6.v.42

Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

Dear Schiff,
How nice it was to see your handwriting again.
I had been thinking about you, wondering how you were and also wondering what your attitude to this latest honour would be. It only happened a week ago, and quite took me by surprise. I was nominated a couple of years ago by an R.A. who is now dead. I didn't know him personally and I don't know any of the members either, so I rather regarded the possibilities of election as remote, as I have heard so much about the string pulling etc that goes on. But Nan Kivell has been pulling my leg (as I thought!) for two to three years every time I took some new work to his gallery which he thought good. One artist of international reputation wrote about a year ago that he could see I was about to be shepherded into the fold, and wondered what my attitude would be. He seemed to think that to be included in that institution meant death to one's ary. Several letters passed between us on the subject, and I was interested to note that he said Sir Edward Marsh (who was really my earliest patron) thought it might be the only society of its kind left after the war. I am, I suppose, the youngest member and I can't help feeling a certain fondness for an institution that included Turner and Constable, and the latest elections are no different in choice to what one had anticipated that I really feel that in time a new force will be felt. Who would have thought ten years ago that John Nash would be an ARA? Or Frank Dobson?
So what amused me was that the congratulatory letter from this artist whose work you know quite well, included a little favour to the effect that he understood he was nominated and would I support that nomination?! Which follows the same line as your remarks in your letter to me. I have had some quite good letters of sincere congratulations from artists, I have been upset at times by the stupid letters I have received, such as when I got the Admiralty appointment, they went out of their way to point out that I needn't think artistic merit had earned me this position etc. etc.
One is bound to do work that is not successful at times, though I have found that after a few years they do not seem to be such failures as I supposed. But I have not written lately to you because I didn't think you would be interested much in what I was doing. I have tackled many subjects which other painters say they wouldn't touch for anything. One of them was the rescue from the sea of a sole survivor after 13 days in an open boat in winter, and the romantic manner of his rescue on the Lizard in Cornwall. It conjured up Victorian paintings of such subjects, and to give the literary content, and the irony of the whole affair was quite beyond painting. But I had a shot at it as the subject was strangely moving. I went to the Lizard, taking my wife with me who much needed a change, and spoke with all the actors in the drama including the survivor himself who was awarded the British Empire Medal. I have a photo of the painting, but it is very bad, the colour brings out the form and all has gone flat and uninteresting in the print. I also did a very small one of a shipwrecked crew. We have heard so much of these men who spend days and weeks in an open boat. I felt it should be painted, but just small, so that anyone really sympathetic would go and look at it and sympathize, but a subject of that sort done large would be just vulgar and unbearable. The Committee thought they might not exhibit it as it might upset people. I don't know whether they have done or not. But they approve of all I have done for them so far.
Now to other matters: the greatest pleasure in the world has descended on us in the shape of a daughter, Caroline Barbara. She is now twelve weeks old and a great delight to us all. Many people thought we were fools for having a baby in war time. But we felt it was now or never. I have never had a salary before, so for the first time I could see a year ahead (apart from what Hitler might try on us!) But now it is evident that a baby just now has a most peaceful and tonic effect on the household. A new time-table is set up as opposed to the News Bulletins etc which are pushed into the background, and people who visit us no longer talk about nothing but war, but become mellow and relax their nerves under the influence of the child. Our son loves her dearly. I was afraid that the gap of six years would be too much, and that he would not be interested at all. But it is a pleasure to see them together and I feel sure they will be very good to each other.
Our boy is now in the full flare of childish creation, he draws most interesting things, and the garden is full of inventions of his mind, which is difficult to deal with in my capacity of gardener, but to restrict such activity would be a crime. It hurts me to see so many of the village children turned on to the roads because the garden is kept so neat and orderly that no use must be made of it, it is just another symbol of respectability.
I have often wondered whether you have done any more writing? Unfortunately I can not read much, and I am always sorry that one can not somehow see a book and feel 'that is a book worth reading' just as one can look at a picture and feel 'that is a picture that will reward further study.'
Do you take an interest in the younger writers? a novel I read some time ago by Cecil day Lewis called 'Child of Misfortune' appealed to me very much. It was published about two years ago I believe. We liked it so much that we bought a copy of it for Xmas.
Books are very difficult to get hold of now as I suspect you have found. Do you read a lot? How do you spend your time? I like to think of my early paintings being with you, and I have a feeling that when this war is over and if it is possible to go on painting freely, that my work will undergo a great change. I have been working in odd moments on an old full length portrait of my wife in a very old silk dress, and have improved it, and problems of quite a different sort began to attract my attention so that I long to throw the Admiralty overboard! but it is all very good for me, and meeting such diverse people and hearing and seeing the tragedies and humours of the war have their effect on me, a much more generous view of life becomes evident and small and petty things are swept aside.
How are you both keping in health? If only these East winds would stop, we could all sit out and enjoy the country, it looks so beautiful just now.
Thank you very much again for your letter which was a pleasure.
My wife and I send our very best wishes to you both.
Yours sincerely
Richard Eurich.
P.S. The Barbarians seem to be at it again! but it rather looks as though their hearts (if we can call them such) have gone out of it lately. There seems to be expectancy in the air, I only hope it is in the right spirit this time if something takes place.
I hear and see a lot in my job, sometimes it is most heartening and at other times decidedly the reverse.





The Rescue of the Only Survivor of a Torpedoed Ship (1941)
Survivors from a Torpedoed Ship



Frank Dobson




Abinger Manor,
Abinger Common,
Nr Dorking
6.v.42  3.15

My dear Richard,
Just as I was bringing my writing materials out to a sort of loggia in the gardens, there was a loud crash, the sound of falling glass, followed by two minor crashes and the whole household rushed out of the house. Violet and I followed more leisurely and observed a heavy pall of smoke like a cloud spreading across the sky above the churchyard which adjoins this little property. Everyone (except myself) was in a state of excitement. Headed by the gardener they headed for the cause of the explosion while we stood at the entrance awaiting developments. Gradually one after another returned, each with a different version of the cause which remains unknown now. The majority favours the view that an ammunition dump had been accidentally exploded but each had an exciting theory as to what had happened. meanwhile I seated myself in my reclining chair (my legs have become very weak lately owing to the slowing down of my heart action) and, unmoved by the general excitement, began this letter. I fancy that the commotion in one little milieu has an explanation less sensational than they suppose, that its cause may be some over realistic military exercises and that the soldiery are getting quite a lot of fun out of it all. Perhaps I shall know more before this is finished.
The incidents you relate in connexion with your election are just those I should imagine to occur in the context, particularly that the rising generation of painters and sculptors are surprised when one or other of their fellows is selected for this academic distinction. This, I think, because they do not realise that to their elders they represent what is soundest and most traditional in their period. John Nash and Frank Dobson, like yourself, are typical examples of progress on an authentic foundation of well-mastered technique. It is not the function of the Academy to discover genius or even great creative gifts, it is its duty to appraise or assess pictorial and sculptural qualities in the works submitted to them, Their [?] may or may not include great works of Art. As to this the individual members of the jury are likely to differ. It is the relative approximation to a given standard of craftsmanship in which they must display their discrimination.
I have been going over the second part of your letter to which I have responded [] delight. It is grand to be an accomplished painter and true artist as you are but to be at the same time a happy and proud husband and father implies the blessing of Providence on your life and work. We have no children but every other happiness has been ours for 31 years come Sunday next. Our love for each other is fathomless and I thank God every night of my life for his inestimable lovingkindness in having given me such a wife and pray that it may be his will to grant us some years longer together. At my age (Violet is over 6 years younger) this is no small favour to ask. I suffered much this winter (you ask after my health or I would not again mention it) from the cold owing to weakening [] action and consequent bad circulation but the lovely weather and daily increasing temperature have quickened my vitality and I am laying in a store of warmth against the long dark months to come. By the way the east winds plague me most and thank goodness they are now defeated (by their ally Boreas, alas!)
Yes, I am a great reader, and we are ordering Day Lewis's 'Child of Misfortune'. I like some of the younger writers, indeed until the last few years, I may say until Hitler came upon the scene, I had for a long time confined my reading to contemporary works. I was among the first to recognise and admire the poetry of T.S. Eliot and had the honour of publishing two of his short poems in 'Art and Letters' which I took over from Frank Rutter and ran for a year and a half. I am familiar with some others of the modern school such as Ezra Pound, the Sitwell Brothers, Auden, Spender, Siegfried Sassoon etc and I know many, perhaps most of the younger school of novelists, English, American and French – the last I knew nearly all worth reading before the war. Of late I have turned towards the greater writers of the past and am now reading george Eliot's 'Daniel Deronda' after a good long feed of Anthony Trollope and before that of Tolstoy, to whose 'Anna Karenina' I have returned with intensely satisfying interest.
While I have been talking to you Max Beerbohm dropped in and has just left. He told us that the explosion was accidental, how caused he didn't know but attributed it to that characteristic British habit of carelessness. He and his wife are occupying our cottage just across the private road to us. They've been here since we put it at their disposal 2 1/2 or more years ago. (Violet tells me it is now 3 years). We both hope you will come and see us here before too long. Do you go to London now and then or only when you [have] a show on?
I fear I've repeated myself a good deal in this letter, a failing attributable I fear to age. Please be indulgent. A propos, I have an idea I sent you one of my books. If this is the case and if so please tell me which (of course I don't refer to my translation of Proust's 'Le Temps Retrouvé). Let me finish this on a high note by congratulating you both on caroline Barbara with all my heart. I warmly commend your decision that it was the right time and though childless myself [ ] at a little 9 year old refugee girl and a dear little creature she is). I venture to opine that the disparity in age where the elder is a boy, is a definite advantage for reasons I will [ ] if you care to have them. 
With our united cordial and sincerest good wishes to you both.
Yours affectionately,
Sydney Schiff.



21.v.42

Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

18 May 1942

Dear Schiff,
I must first thank you very much indeed for sending 'The bridge of San Luis Rey'. I meant to write earlier, but unfortunately I have not been well, and I have had no time for writing. Curiously enough, I have not read the book. I well remember the stir it caused when it came out. So I have it to look forward to. Then later your very interesting letter which I enjoyed very much. I am wondering what the real solution of the 'explosion' was?
Before I forget it, if you can not get 'Child of Misfortune' by Day Lewis, we will lend you our copy. Books are so difficult to get now. Our library used to get us almost anything published recently we asked for, but now there are only 'Crime Fiction', and even these have deteriorated since the war. It hardly sounds possible, but they are much worse than boys stories of twenty years or more ago, what with 5th Column activists, spies etc.
I wonder if you have come into contact with many scientific men? My Father, now retired, was a very distinguished doctor. He used to read detective stories as fast as they were published, and still would if his sight allowed him to. I have never known him read a novel! but he will read biography. Do you think it true that the scientific mind cannot appreciate a work of art? It seems to be so. My Father says that Darwin said his scientific investigations spoiled his taste for poetry.
All my father seems to demand is facts, and if he reads a book in which the facts are questionable he damns it, and anybody who writes or paints or sculpts anything he can't understand he is mad, without question. Our own doctor came to visit my wife one day after Caroline was born, he asked her what she was reading; the answer was 'Pride and Prejudice'. 'Haven't you got something lighter' says he! I wondered what he considered light reading and what he would have said if he had known that she was reading James Joyce's 'Ulysses' for the second time with great enjoyment!
Yes, you gave me your book 'The Other Side', I wrote to you afterwards saying how much I had enjoyed it, I would really love to read another. I am so glad that you are a Trollope fan. When I first read the Barchester novels, I just sat down and read them, only stopping to make myself a meal (and even then not really stopping) and to sleep.
It must be interesting to have Max Beerbohm living near you. Why does he call himself an old man? —This a propos of his talk on the Radio recently about the old Music Hall Comedians. I would like to see him take up his pencil now and chart all the fools and knaves he could think of in relation to one another. I should think the result would be a great work of art.
I am afraid this letter is a very bad one. My boy has been playing at 'tanks' until a few minutes ago! (there are some stationed in the village) and I have also been working very hard all day on a new painting. It requires great concentration as I am using a method as old as the hills: every square inch painted complete, step by step, in glazes over a white ground. The subject is the dockyard at Portsmouth at night under bombardment, full of startling detail and colour, hardly any white being used. I am hoping the result will be like a stained glass window in richness. I am keeping my Flake White, which is very scarce, for the other painting on hand which is all snow!
I will try to write again shortly. Your letters give us great pleasure. I had not noticed that you repeat yourself! If you do, it is still interesting because the wording is different. I am afraid I don't express myself very well.
We send our very kindest regards to you and your wife.
Yours sincerely
Richard Eurich.
P.S. I wish we could come and see you, but travel is increasingly difficult. I come up to London for the day sometimes on business, and my wife who loves getting away from home has not been to London for over a year. But let us hope we can meet soon.


Richard Eurich: Night Raid on Portsmouth Docks (1941)





8813.49
Thanks etc
July 2/42

Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton
24 May 1942

Dear Schiff,
This is just a hasty note to thank you so very much for the book. I shall treasure it. And I will write again soon no doubt when we have read it. The weather has brought the battle against the weeds in the garden to a climax, and so our hands are full. But I hope soon to be able to draw a deck chair out into the garden and be lazy! This is a luxury I don't often indulge in, and I think it sounds dreadful when one knows there are people working almost to breaking point. On the other hand painting is strenuous work and uses up nervous energy that manual labour never touches.
We seem to be getting attention from the Luftwaffe by daylight just now, and I fully expect we shall have more of it, for reasons best left unmentioned.
I must stop now.
We send our very kind regards to you both.
Yours sincerely
Richard Eurich.


8813.50

Abinger Manor,
Abinger Common,
Near Dorking,
Surrey

15th June 1942

Dear Eurich,
I have read slowly and carefully Day Lewis' 'Child of Misfortune' and thank you for drawing my attention to this interesting and rather puzzling book. Day Lewis is undoubtedly a talented prose-writer as well as poet. It is an earnest, serious and moving work and contains passages of poetic beauty rare, I should think, in contemporary fiction of which I read very little. The tale gave me the impression of being based on personal experience though not being in a direct sense autobiographical. It has a queer haunting quality. I find myself thinking of Arthur and Oliver and wondering about them and whether Day Lewis is Irish or partly so. It is easy enough to pick holes in the structure in which there are certain rather awkward flaws especially in connection with sexual relationships but somehow I feel I do not want to dwell on them because as a whole the qualities outweigh the defects. I doubt if Day Lewis can be satisfied with the way it ends; in fact it does not end, it breaks off. The introspective psychologies of the two brothers seem to me characteristic of this period. This is perhaps its chief claim to significance. Day Lewis seems to be struggling to exonerate if not to justify the ineffectualness of the brothers, an ineffectualness which results from their lack of belief in themselves. They have no conviction about the value of human life, above all of human love. I might even say they seem to me emasculated and aimless wanderers through life taking refuge in transient emotions and mediocre worldly successes. The book has no salt in it; it makes me feel regretfully that the writer is, himself, a discouraged man.
Now tell me what you think about it and whether you disagree with me.
Hoping also for interesting news about your work and the best news about the wellbeing of your self and your family.
Yours very sincerely
Sydney Schiff.




8813.51

Abinger Manor
Abinger Common
Nr Dorking
2nd July '42

Dear Richard,
This brings you my belated thanks for your last letter (24th May) which would have been acknowledged sooner but that both of us have been unwell. Though I have been restored since June Violet is still not quite back to normal. I wish you'd tell me what your wife really felt about 'Ulysses'. Of course it is an amazing tour de force but it always seems to me to be the creation of a diseased mind and to be one of those works which lie outside the traditions, the main-stream of literature, not on account of its obscenity but because verbal gymnastics and display of exotic virtuosity are not true art. Joyce's qualities are academic, scholastic in that book though his 'Portrait of the Artist' is, on the other hand, in another category but does not seem to me an important work.
I can't remember whether I have referred to what you write about your father's determined partiality for the factual. Certainly the scientific mind rejects speculation but I should have thought imagination had its place in all scientific exploration and he (your father) should at all events sympathize with that outstanding element in your work. I think it is in the emotional sphere that scientists show obduracy. For them the emotions should be under strict control and should in no wise colour investigation.
'Quot homines tot sententiæ'. The old saw serves. If your earlier and longer letter is a bad one, this is infinitely worse. I'm writing, against my mood so the product is necessarily inferior but I wanted to 'contact' (a vile grammatical deformation) you and to assure you of my continuing and lively interest in your life and painting.
I hope, we both hope, bombs will keep a respectful distance from Appletreewick – more than hope, we pray.
Forgive these desultory few lines. I shall try to do better when I reply to your next.
By the way, did I send you 'A True Story' or was it perhaps another. I've told you my memory is bad, a failure one is liable to at my advanced age and perhaps less inexcusable in times like these.
When, oh when, will wars cease and men realise the terrible waste futility of devoting all the resources of material civilization to destroying and maiming each other.
Our love to you both and a hearty kiss – two hearty kisses for Caroline.
Yours ever
Sydney S.



8813.52
[Ans'd by …]

Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton
5 July 1942

Dear Schiff,
I have been very remiss not answering your letters before. Thank you very much for your last with the press cutting, and the note concerning Day Lewis' 'Child of Misfortune' – the flashlight photograph of me has given much mirth to some of our friends! They are agreed that I look like a curate! but fortunately most of them say it is not at all like me, for which I am very thankful.
After I had written to you about 'Child of Misfortune' I had some qualms about it. It is a risky thing recommending books to anyone and more so to one so critical as you. I was most interested in your remarks. The end is most unsatisfactory, and I think I understand what you mean about there being no salt in it. The early part of the book interested me most, I thought his child psychology so good. That scene on the sea shore for instance, and the episode of polishing pennies in the sand and the boys cruel treatment of the woman.
Yes, you did send me 'A True Story', and I am reading it very slowly and carefully, and, I might add enjoying it greatly. I will not say anything about it at present, I will finish it first. I hardly have any time for reading, I sometimes paint till nearly eight p.m., and then the garden, which is completely outstripping me in the race of weeds and the like. We get a few library books, and as these have to go back as soon as possible, I am taking your book about with me, reading in the train. I am a very slow reader, I like to get everything out of a paragraph. I was astonished to find that some people read a book by just glancing down the page and somehow pick out what is in it. But I only read at talking pace and hear the inflexions in the voice and so on.
I can not understand why your work is not widely known, and I long to read more.
From the press notices, I seem to understand that one of your books is about an artist. I have only once I think read a book in which a painter was portrayed with any understanding, and that was Charles Morgan's 'Portrait in a Mirror'. It is years since I read it and might think very differently now. I feel sure that you would write with understanding about artists, having known so many.
I have been up to London once or twice on business and enjoyed seeing a few pictures again. I wish you could have seen the 'rescue' picture. The photo taken of it for the press is very bad, I would send you a copy, but I am afraid you wouldn't get much from it because it isn't obvious what the camera has missed, and the same goes for most of the latest ones. Sir Kenneth Clark told me the other day that one of my paintings is going to Russia – several have already gone to America.
I have just completed the one of Portsmouth dockyard being bombed at night. Those who have seen it seem to think it one of my best, it may be, but all the same I am not quite happy about it. I am now finishing a work which is just the opposite; the Commando raid on Vaagso in Norway. The former is all dark with brilliant bits of illumination, and a lot of rather reckless angles in the composition. The second is a perfect sunny early winter morning, all gracious curves and delicate colour and no startling accents. This is a very bad letter! I feel I want to write such a nice one, but I want to be just in the mood and get my thoughts clear about a number of things I want to write about at some length, if it doesn't bore you?!
I had some entertainment at my first general meeting of the Royal Academy, quite a dog fight took place over the question of hanging a crowded wall, or a tasteful setting, and whether members' work could be thrown out or not. The Treasurer died next day of a heart attack! but whether this had anything to do with it I would not be sure!
I think I shall have to stop this letter and start another one soon which I can just add to as I feel like it. Home life is certainly a great joy just now. My youngest sister is staying with my parents and having seen Caroline she decided she must have another baby! and she is not the only one to react thus on seeing the sweet thing. I see my wife has just written a letter to you, so perhaps the envelope will not be quite so full of emptiness after all. I should have said before how sorry I am you have both been ill. We hope you are well again now. Most people seem to have found last month very trying. I feel sure Caroline […] devastating smiles!
Very […]

The Raid of Vaagso, Norway, 26–27 December 1941





8813.53
[Ans'd by p.c. 2 Sept'r 42]

Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Sunday

Dear Mr Schiff,
I have enjoyed reading your letters to Richard very much. In your last, you asked what were my reactions to 'Ulysses'. I find it hard to analyse them, perhaps because I judge books – and pictures – by the pleasure they give me, rather than by any more critical standard. However, I must try to think why I got pleasure from 'Ulysses', even when my reading is as piecemeal as it has been in these busy days.
Certainly the words are a part of its value to me. I can't help feeling they are more than the tools of technique, they seem to give a more lasting satisfaction than that. I am trying to think why some lists of things, such as you find in the Bible or Rabelais, have a richness and majesty quite distinct from the images they evoke. It is partly sound, and partly the look of the words, and partly some individual essence they've acquired through long use, and although Joyce uses some new ones, they do come from the same stock, but with his own personality woven in (Mixed metaphor. Please excuse it, but I'm really trying to think as I go).
The people seem alive in a very intense way. They are not like any people I know myself, yet I am perfectly convinced of their truth. I never find myself asking how some effect is got. The writing seems spontaneous, in spite of the years of labour it represents. I can't bring myself to question the aptitude of any sentence – the whole work bears such a stamp of reality. It seems to have come alive as a whole, and must be accepted or rejected as a whole.
I don't suppose I have managed to convey to you quite what I feel about it, but at least I have tried to be more explicit than I usually am. I could say much more, but I will spare you.
We gave Caroline your hearty kisses. I wish you could see her, she is a darling thing. Crispin is a very stimulating companion. He thinks for himself about everything, and his questions are often impossible to answer. He is much exercised in  mind about the war, and I often have to evade direct replies. I simply don't know how to explain to a child how men can act so.
I do hope your wife is quite well again now.
Yours sincerely,
Mavis Eurich.


Portrait of Mavis - 1935





8813.54
[Ans'd by p.c. 2 Sept 42]

Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton
8 August 1942

Dear Schiff,
It is about time I wrote to you.
I hope you are both well and enjoying life as much as is possible. We are all very blooming, and sometimes our good fortune in such dreadful times seems too good to last.
Caroline is a perfectly wonderful child; she is lively and full of beaming smiles and roguishness all day, never a nuisance at night, in fact, the perfect baby, everyone is astonished at her.
The garden is looking beautiful for a war time garden. I think it is partly because the shrubs we planted a few years ago are now taking on larger forms, and the trees have grown so much which gives the garden a more established appearance, and the weeds do not show so much. After the children have gone to bed, my wife and I sometimes go out together and pull weeds for all we are worth. The vegetables are also doing quite well, enough potatoes to keep us till next summer, and there are runner beans climbing about wherever there is any space. I let them run to seed and then dry the beans which are good cooked like haricots or put through a mincer and used as a body for thick soups, real nourishing stuff! The tomatoes look well, but we want some good warm weather to ripen them.
The apples look good too, and other things for later use like sprouts and celery are very advanced.
I think when I last wrote I was still struggling with a painting of Portsmouth dockyard at night. I have completed that and got it safely to the Admiralty along with a very different picture, all radiant sunny morning in Norway when the Vaasgo raid took place. Also a smaller painting of a shipwrecked crew in an open boat being rescued by a destroyer. Until this morning I had not heard what sort of a reception they got from the War Artists committee, and now I have had a delightful letter from the Admiralty representative saying they were received with acclamation and if I could have heard the remarks made by individual members I would feel most encouraged, and that they feel lucky to have got my services. This has cheered me up a lot as I never feel satisfied with my work.
I try to 'live' myself into the subjects so as to get the truthful human side as far as possible, and I think something of that feeling must have communicated itself to other people, as so many have been astonished when I told them I did not witness the scene depicted. For one thing I am most thankful, and that is that the powers that be do not force subjects repugnant to me onto me for painting, but let me choose or select my own – and they show understanding by giving such subjects as the sinking of the 'Bismark' to journalistic artists, who don't seem to have any finer feelings.
A short time ago we (the War Artists) gave a dinner to our secretary who was leaving us, and though I don't usually enjoy such occasions I had a really good time. Sir Kenneth Clark arranged it, and I met a number of painters I have wanted to meet and found them very pleasant, the range of subjects we discussed was considerable, and we had all had experiences interesting to each other. John Piper had been drawing at Windsor and at Bath, Henry Moore had been down coal mines, Sutherland had been painting blast furnaces, and so on. Barnett Freedman made a rambling speech about the good qualities of our secretary, and ended, much to our amusement by saying he had never had to wait more than a week for money due to him! I also have an increasing respect for Sir Muirhead Bone. He has been very nice to me, and he always likes to have a chat, which flows most easily as he is so unassuming and open so that one finds oneself speaking to him more as one of one's own age. I find it difficult to see in him the man who writes such eloquent and dignified letters to the press in defence of Epstein or any other artistic cause which is in danger of being trampled on.
I have decided that for the good of my soul I must paint some work purely for my own adventure. I have started painting what one might call a meditation on a theme of Rembrandt. I have always been haunted by his painting of the return of the Prodigal Son which I believe is still in the Hermitage collection, one of his latest works. From what one can see in the photographs, the head of the son pressed against his Father's body has assured an other world quality as though he was becoming part of his parent again. I don't know whether you hold the view that painting can not trouble one's emotions like music, but I am not of this opinion. A modern critic says that he has never got on with Rembrandt. Is this because he does not deal with patterns or attractive colour? The human side seems not to interest modern critics. I have always been glad that Epstein is such a champion of Rembrandt, which reminds me that one of my dreams has come true – we have managed to get one of his bronzes! not of course at the proper price. I expect you know the head of […] boy which he later used on his great Madonna and Child group? That is the one. We haven't got it yet, but the sale has been transacted. It is a pity there is no one in this village we shall be able to show it too, who would appreciate it.
My other painting I want to try is a head of Mozart. It sounds a bit cheap! but the idea is a plastic one. It may be partly that I want to escape a bit from grim realities, but there are also technical interests behind the motive. The Rembrandt subject is just the central group which I want to explore lovingly.
My reading is still limited, but as the blackout will be earlier after tomorrow, I may get more done. I still have not finished 'A True Story', but I shall be almost sorry to finish it after all this time. I have often wondered whether there is any truth in the assertion that the books which will be remembered in another hundred years are scarcely known to most of us. After reading 'The Other Side' I thought it quite possible, and the True Story gives me a similar feeling.
I wanted to find out something about C. Day Lewis for you to see if it shed any light on his writing. But all I could find out was that he is or was working in the Ministry of Information and was being used as a door-mat or office boy by every Dick, Tom or Harry.
I firmly believe that there is a mass of talent just waiting for that feeling of frustration to be removed. Benjamin Britten the composer, seems at last to have thrown over his school boy tricks and is doing something worth while and there are many young composers working hard under most difficult conditions. There are painters too who only have time to paint a small picture very occasionally and get no encouragement.
I don't seem to be writing about anything very interesting so I had better stop. I wish I could give you a picture of how happy our life is at present. I get out onto the moors with our dog and another every morning – we never meet a soul, and I have come to think of these wild places as my own, it is a grand start for a day of hard work.
We all send our very best wishes, please forgive this uninteresting letter, but if it shows that we think of you and speak of you often, it will have done something.
I am sure Caroline would send you one of her ravishing smiles.
Yours ever,
Richard Eurich.




8813.55
Abinger Manor
Abinger Common
Nr Dorking

2.IX.42

Dear Richard,
You will understand my silence when I tell you that my dear wife has been lying ill in the London Clinic for three weeks and is still in Doctor's hands. It will be some considerable time before the infection from which she is still suffering subsides. It has been an anxious time but thanks to skilful handling the right measures have been taken and she is slowly recovering.
Please accept these few lines as a very inadequate reply to your two unanswered letters and ask Mavis to forgive me for my inability to return for the time being my warm appreciation of her charming letter.
I shall write more fully as soon as my beloved invalid has reached convalescence. Meanwhile I send you both my cordial remembrances.
Yours ever
Sydney Schiff




8813.56
[9.IX.42 Ans'd but not … sent]

Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

5 September 1942

My dear Schiff.
We are terribly sorry to hear that your wife has been ill again, I had rather worried if all was not well, not having heard from you for some time. It must be very worrying for you, and the difficulty of getting the right medical attention in these days is great. I am glad you are satisfied with that at any rate. I know how you must feel, I didn't tell anyone except relations who had to be told, that my wife had a bad breakdown after Caroline was born, she made an apparently perfect recovery and then collapsed both physically and mentally and our doctor strangely enough would make nothing of it. Fortunately my Father was able to diagnose it as the glands not getting back to normal properly, aggravated by air raids and a severe shock over her sister's sudden death, and all went well after a month or so.
I do hope by now that things are better.
We are a very full and noisy household at present. Mavis's sister's two boys are with us, and the garden sometimes has six or seven children playing in it! the extra number come from other houses near us. These two nephews are very fine boys, but the younger one who is the same age as Crispin (six) has fits of bad temper which lead to biting! as he is exceptionally strong it requires a man to deal with him. But it is very pleasant, though when they have gone I shall have to repair doors and other parts of the house!
I don't remember whether I had heard when I last wrote to you what sort of reception my last batch of paintings had with the War Artists' Committee. I was surprised to hear that they created a mild sensation and they consider themselves lucky to have my services … things felt the boot was on the other foot, that I was lucky to be in their service.
Unfortunately the painting of Portsmouth dockyard at night has not been passed by the censor for exhibition. I am sorry as I would like to know the reactions of my fellow painters to it. Sir Muirhead Bone has been very good to me, and i saw him when I last called at the Admiralty, and said how well my work was going and how pleased they all were with it.
I have finished your book 'A True Story' at last, it went on many a train journey with me, and I have thought about it much in the intervals. Mavis and one or two friends here who read it with great interest and we have discussed it together, and we are agreed that it is a remarkable book. I find it very difficult to tell you my feelings about it particularly as it about you. I can only say how deeply grateful I am to you for having sent it to me. I certainly never suspected your background as having been like that. I am wondering now when it was that your great interest in painting and the other arts was born, and how it developed to the high pitch you have attained.
I must get to my work now, the days are shorter and the light not so trustworthy.
We are all very well and Caroline still seems to be the perfect baby, if I go and play with her she loves it, she is so lively, but when I go away she doesn't cry like other babies do. In the morning when I get up to make the breakfast she is always awake but doesn't make a sound and she lies there smiling at me and never cries even though it will not be her breakfast time for another two hours! and all day she lies amusing herself in the pram in the garden. It is almost unbelievable.
Please don't feel you must write to me because I have written again, I would much rather you wrote when you felt like it. Meanwhile, our thoughts are with you.
We send our very best wishes to you both.
Yours ever
Richard Eurich.




8813.57
Abinger Manor
Abinger Common
Nr Dorking
9.IX.42

I should have written to you for news, had not my dear wife been ill. She is still laid up but is slowly gaining ground. How splendid that Mavis made such a wonderful recovery and how lucky for you that your father's skilful diagnosis brought it about. Please give her my love. I will write at greater length as soon as Violet is better but don't allow my smar[…]ing taciturnity to hinder your news when you feel inclined to impart it. Yours easy natural letters about […] your family and your work are always keenly appreciated.
I am very happy that A True Story interested you.
Violet is slowly improving but it will be a considerable time before she will be back to her normal health. All my best wishes.
S.





8813.58
Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

14 October 1942

My dear Schiff
Without wishing to urge you to write, as I know you would if you had the inclination, i feel I must write a few lines hoping that your wife is well again, and that you yourself are also in as good health as you can reasonably expect yourself to be.
We often think of you and hope all is well.
Before I forget it, I have meaned to ask you before whether by any chance you know Vaughan Williams who I believe lives at Dorking. He is a man I have admired for many years from afar. I know several students who were under him, and some of my friends have received very kindly notices from him. But as an artist he is most inspiring, he has developed and I hope still will develop on unpredictable lines. The greatest compliment I ever had was from a music critic who said I reminded him of Vaughan Williams because I did not get into ruts or develop on the lines my friends predicted. I only hope this is true, because so many of the most promising young painters get praised by certain critics and allow themselves to be led up the garden path, with the result that they dry up and then start imitating earlier triumphs and to cease to be creative.
I have been painting a little for my own good recently, and I hope the Admiralty will not suffer because of it! I felt it was absolutely essential to put some ideas into practice that have been in my mind for some time.
I think I told you about the Rembrandt 'translation' and some other small works. I took them to the Redfern Gallery a week or two back for Nan Kivell to have a look at. I hardly expected expected him to show much interest in them, as he (as a dealer) would like to keep me pinned down to ships! Any previous deviation from that line has been met with a smile and the works put into the condemned cell! So you can imagine my surprise when these works were received with delight and he wants to give me another one man show soon. If a very careful selection of old work was introduced, I expect it could be done. This pleasure has made me more than ever want to work at my own ideas which have started to the surface of my mind very much recently. Some of them I am afraid would not be 'setters' at all, though I have never consciously painted anything for a market, and still feel sometimes that Nan Kivell was not right about not exhibiting certain works of mine which aroused somewhat painful emotions. Strangely enough the Admiralty have done the same with one of my little paintings. I have in fact just painted a small head of a Jew who has been in a German concentration camp. This one I could understand Nan Kivell not showing, because I hardly dare show it to anyone myself and I couldn't stand my wife coming into the studio while I was doing it.
Did I tell you that Combined Operations asked me to paint 'Dieppe Raid'? I went up to London to see them about it and made an exhaustive search for information through the known reports and maps.  Having done this I told them that if I was to do this job I was not going to avoid the truth. They were very understanding and told me that the Chief would consider the painting valueless as a document if I did avoid unpleasantness and that if the war artists committee shilly shallied over exhibiting it, they themselves would bring pressure to having it shown. So my conscience is quite clear over it.
The difficulties of constructing such a thing are so great that I have decided to paint it on a six foot panel, and it is now in preparation. I fully expect I shall be at work on it till Xmas.
Caroline is very well and such a joy, and Crispin seems to have taken to his new school.
We all send our love and best wishes.
Yours sincerely,
Richard Eurich.

From Dachau, 1942




8813.59
Abinger Manor,
Abinger Common,
Nr Dorking
23.X.42

Dear Richard
It is not through disinclination that I only am now able to thank you for your letter of the 14th but sheer inability owing to my preoccupation with my dear wife whose state of health has been causing me much anxiety. Our doctor attributed her constant pain and discomfort to the effect of a strong drug (M & B) which was prescribed by the specialist who examined her in London and is the only one which is efficacious in disposing of the bacilli infecting certain of her organs. About a week ago the excellent local doctor ordered the discontinuance of the drug and she has been much relieved. When she has recuperated a bit more she will however be obliged to resume but will have more resistance to draw upon.
We do not know Vaughan Williams but Violet greatly admires his compositions and always listens to broadcasts of his music. He lives quite near here and we hope and expect to make his acquaintance later on. At present she has to remain in bed and has a nurse in attendance and it will take several weeks for her to overcome this disturbing complaint.
It is certainly a tribute to your art to be compared with so great a master, imitation of one's successes is undoubtedly a frequent lure but where so in V.W.'s case and I do not doubt in your own there is real creative urge and fertility of invention this is not a question.
I am very pleased and interested to hear that you are breaking fresh ground and greatly regret I can't hope to see them for some time. That small head of a Jew arouses my strong curiosity. Do you ever photograph your paintings? It seems to me a good thing to do but only if the photographer is an adept.
It is good news about the Dieppe Raid and the attitude towards your search for a depiction of truth, or in other words painting out of your personal integrity. This is perhaps one of the essential elements in painting as it certainly is in literature and especially in poetry.
You will forgive these few lines and understand that I am not able to write as fully as I should like. It always gives me pleasure to hear about your wife and children and home life. To all of you my love.
Yours with warm regard
Sydney Schiff
When next I write to you I hope to be free from all anxiety about Violet and so be able to tell you about a very remarkable painter – Kokoschka. Have you heard of him? He is considered by many to be the greatest of living painters.















8813.60
Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

5th November 1942.

Dear Schiff
We were naturally delighted to see your beautifully spaced writing on an envelope again, but more sorry than we can say to hear that there is still so much progress to be made in your wife's illness before your mind can feel at all at ease.
I hope that since you wrote that things are brighter. I would then love to hear from you about Kokoschka. Yes, I do know his work, but mostly through reproductions. In fact I first saw reproductions in books nearly twenty years ago! a Jewish woman sculptor and painter who lived in Yorkshire where I lived found I was a promising student and showed me books she had brought back from Germany, and O.K. was represented in them. I was amused to begin with over his large signature, as though they had been passed as satisfactory by the inspector of works!
I have always liked his portraits best, they seem to me to be in the great tradition of the Tintoretto, Rembrandt, Cézanne lineage. His landscapes, only one of which I have actually seen, do not satisfy me in the same way, as they seem too temperamental, and that particular kind of Impressionism has been done better by Turner in his last water colours. I believe O.K. is very temperamental isn't he? I was much amused that in the Catalogue of the Pittsburg International Exhibition he was put down as 'German', but next year he was 'Czechoslovakian'! The Germans were great at claiming any painter at one time, but since the Nazis came to power it is different.
I believe there was an exhibition of O.K.'s landscapes some years ago at the Leicester Galleries. I wanted to see them, but at that time the bus or train fare and 1/- admittance were too much for me. I know Epstein was very vocal about the lack of honour done to this show, saying that this sort of neglect got us a very bad reputation. I myself believe it to be the fault of the critics, just because they can't classify a painter they refuse to plunge and let the public know that something of note is to be seen.
I haven't much news I am afraid. I am sorry I haven't got photographs of my work to show you, it is an expensive business at the best of times, and now there are many difficulties because of the lack of materials. The Ministry of Information send me a print, sometimes good, sometimes almost unrecognizable, of the work I do for the Admiralty. I would let you see these, but I doubt whether you would find them interesting. By this I don't mean that I am selling my soul! I am learning a lot which will be of great value to me; in some cases very great technical difficulties present themselves and observation is certainly sharpened. My work to some people has become what they think is photographic, but not really, and now a new and more imaginative feeling is coming in. I was asked to go up to London at short notice a fortnight ago for 'Press' day at the National Gallery, as they were opening a new room of paintings, and I notice with some pleasure a new respect from people whose judgement I think pretty sound. Eric Ravilious who was doing the most lovely water colours for the Admiralty had such lyrical drawings there, one of carrier pigeons in wire cages was perfect, and alas, these are presumably his last works, as he was killed not long ago. 
I am now at work on the six foot 'Dieppe', and no doubt will have a lot of trouble with it!
The weather has made the garden a misery. Yesterday I took the afternoon off and Mavis came and we weeded and dug side by side with Caroline giving us encouraging shouts and smiles from her pram. Today it is just rain rain rain. It doesn't seem to depress Caroline! She can be heard amusing herself indoors. My Mother and Father came in to lunch today and they couldn't help but remark how little trouble she was compared with some of the other grandchildren! Children are a great trouble of course, but I am sure it is good for one! I know I have had day dreams in the past of what it would be like to have a son and the things we would do together. I think I told you of the little masterpiece that Crispin painted recently. Well, I got much more pleasure out of it than just the pleasure of seeing this creation, great as my natural pride was touched! But he came into my studio and worked at it for seven hours and the outside world to both of us hardly existed, we were just men together, (the age difference being as nothing) doing a job. These are the rare and beautiful moments and seem under a spell which is I believe the complete understanding between Father and son. I am thankful that my concern in life is with a craft, as it is always a link which can not be outgrown. I am afraid I express things badly, and my spelling even worse! I pray that your wife is well on the way to recovery and t…

P.S. On re-reading this, my remarks on O.K.'s landscapes sound a bit severe! I am probably quite wrong, instead I rather hope I am. My approach may be faulty.


8813.61



8813.61

Abinger Manor,
Abinger Common,
Nr Dorking
10th Nov. 1942

My dear Richard,
Your letter as usual gave me great pleasure and I feel very much flattered by your calling my rather weary writing beautifully spaced.
I am glad to be able to give you a somewhat better report of Violet whose condition has certainly been improving and if all goes well she should soon be approaching the normal.
I too have only seen reproductions of Kokoschka's oils but he brought down a large folio of water-colours which are the most remarkable I've ever seen. I think I told you I have here a reproduction of one of his fine oil paintings of London. This one is a vista of the Thames and is magnificent in design, in composition and in colour. When he was here (I think I have said this to you before) he examined it very carefully and said it was as good as the original. It seems to have preserved all the colour values and I cannot understand the process which went to its making. The water is beautifully transparent and the shadow and lines amazingly good. A superb work. I have never seen reproductions of any of his great portraits. I do not understand  why you take exception to the temperamental quality but the fact that you compare him with Turner indicates that you rate him very high, as indeed he deserves. Certainly he is one of the most temperamental artists I have known and at the same time the most spontaneous and vital. He is, I believe, a Czechoslovak. I have also a small reproduction of an inferior kind from an illustrated paper of another part of the Thames. But bad as it is one can see what a lovely composition it must be. He has a marvellous power of conveying space and atmosphere and his distances are beautifully indicated. I never attach much importance to journalist art critics and what they say about Kokoschka leaves me completely cold; as you say they are fogged the moment they come across a painter they cannot put into a certain category.
I am so sorry that it is not possible for you to send me photographs of your work. Though they cannot give one the colour and very often deform the composition and even the design they do give one some idea of what the original is like. It gives me great satisfaction to know that you are being appreciated. It could hardly be otherwise, your quality is undeniable.
I had no idea that Ravilious had been killed nor even that he was in the army. How and where did this happen? It is a sad loss. I have a very simple but delightful drawing of his. The name Li[n]dsell follows his signature. Evidently that was the name of the village in which the farm buildings which are the subject of the water-colour are situated. It is exceedingly subtle in its simplicity owing to the beautiful spacing and design and the flawless technique; a series of roofs, horizontal and vertical lines and fences of different construction binding it altogether, indeed almost a geometrical pattern. This does not sound exciting but I am sure you would agree with me that the composition is that of a master.
That six foot 'Dieppe' for the Admiralty will take it out of you I should think.
Well you cannot have grumbled about the weather during the last days if you have shared, as I hope, the glorious sunshine we have been bathing in. I love your picture of yourself and Mavis weeding in the garden with Caroline looking on. How pleased Mavis must have been by your parents' compliments on your children. I envy you their possession if possession it is. But some day, alas, will not be when they go out into the world. I am so excited about Crispin's little masterpiece. What a lot I have to look forward to if I ever get the opportunity of seeing his work. Again, I see you and your little Crispin hard at it those seven hours. How I envy you those 'rare and beautiful moments' when you were under the spell of that complete understanding between father and son.
Indeed you do not express things badly. On the contrary your way of expressing yourself is perfect and has that felicity which comes from spontaneous utterance.
I do thank you so much for your sympathy and your prayer that my wife will soon be well. I have not been depressed but I have been preoccupied as she is my first concern in life. Please give my best love to Mavis, kiss the children for me and believe me with warm affection, yours ever Sydney S.






8813.62

Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

15th Dec. 1942

My dear Schiff,
This is to wish you and yours a very happy Christmas and New Year. I do hope the latter will see a turn for the better in the world.
Thank you for your last letter, we enjoyed it very much, we hope Violet has continued to progress favourably and that life has its enjoyments again.
Since the leaves have fallen the country looks beautiful. I must say I prefer the forest here in winter, the colour is so sombre and varied. It has always struck me as curious that leafless trees were not painted until recently. Constable never painted winter, or Autumn as far as I know.
I get out with our dog every morning, and as the sun is only just getting up the landscape looks entrancing, and we never see a soul. I put on my fisherman's boots and wade through the swamps and water which is everywhere, as I think I have said before, I sometimes long to paint on my own again. I think I shall do very much better for this break.
You may remember we were discussing Oscar Kokoschka, when I remarked that his landscapes (though reproduction only) had a Turneresque quality, I meant that the problem had been solved by Turner and O.K. hadn't added anything. My opinion of Turner has always brought a smile to the faces of my contemporaries because he has always been my very own particular god, and when I was about 17 or 18 years of age I read every book and saw every painting I could of his, and became quite an encyclopedia concerning his travels etc. and now it is my turn to smile, as I find the young moderns have suddenly discovered Turner. No, I felt that O.K. in his portraits is so magnificently constructive that I expected something more plastic in his landscapes. But I hope some day I may be able to see his work more as a whole and find myself quite wrong.
Since I last wrote I have painted another very small work, or rather a study, of Jews in a concentration camp. The painting of it is almost like a water colour, transparent and no solid white used, except for the white ground on which it is painted, and since this little effort I have been reading Feuchtwanger's 'The Devil in France' being his experiences in concentration camps during the first six months of the war, and I felt I had got very much the feeling into my painting of some of the men he describes. I don't pretend to be a very good judge of literature, as my reading is limited in experience, but the sinister book called 'The Enormous Room' by Cummings an American, about a prison in France during the last war is rather an interesting comparison. The latter is more poetic I think, and Feuchtwanger's more matter of fact and analytical, though it has some moving passages. But both show the panic and extraordinary stupidity of it all.
The Dieppe picture still gives me great trouble. The whole idea is to give a feeling of trial by air, fire and water, not just a catalogue of the kind of craft etc involved.
Eric Ravilious was my opposite number, Sir Muirhead Bone being our senior officer. His photo appeared alongside mine in 'The Tatler" cutting that you sent me. He was on a 'plane from iceland which was missing. It really is a tragedy as his work was improving with every batch that he did, I am told that no compensation will be paid to his widow and child which seems rather hard, and Gilbert Spencer informed me that she was just recovering from a serious operation.
Crispin will be returning from school this week and we look forward to his holidays very much. I am making him a toy caravan as a present. It is great fun making things like this out of the old scraps of material that one can get these days. It is like a doll's house on wheels. Mavis will do the interior decorations including curtains and bedding. The door has a brass knocker and letter box. I only hope that he will take care of it so that Caroline can have it for her dolls later on. She is as blooming as ever and will be pleased to see her brother home again, she thinks everything he does is funny. Our dog, 'grock' is also very devoted to her, being a Dalmatian he  is about twice her size, so it is amusing to see them both sitting on the hearth rug side by side. The other day she recognised a little painting I had done of him, this being the first evidence we have that she can see things represented on a flat surface, which I believe is quite good for ten months.
I must stop now. We all send our very kind regards to you both again and hope all is well.
Ever yours
Richard Eurich.


Internees, 1943




8813.63
Abinger Manor,
Abinger Common,
Near Dorking,
Surrey
22nd December 1942

My dear Richard,
So many thanks for your kind letter of the 15th, and for your wishes about Violet who I am thankful to tell you is now up and about again and will soon be, I hope, quite herself again.
As always your letter telling us about your home life has given me great pleasure. As I have told you before, I like to picture you with your family and your natural simple way of describing your home life greatly appeals to my sympathies.
I wish you would begin painting 'on your own' and I should not be surprised if when you do come to it with a still greater passion than before. You are probably right in seeing something of Turner in Kokoschka's paintings though I must confess I can not identify any definite derivation or similarity. Doubtless in this matter your technical qualifications enable you to detect if not an influence a subtle link between them though in my intercourse with him he has never alluded to Turner. How curious your saying that the 'young moderns have suddenly discovered Turner'. We have been here ever since the war and i cannot call to mind any exhibition which represented these aspirants. I wish I had remembered when Kokoschka was here last Saturday to read to him your letter which is a really fine tribute to his genius from a young English painter.
I am greatly interested in what you tell me of your study of Jews in concentration camps. Hitler's savage extermination of the Jews all over the Nazi-occupied Continent is the most abominable and horrifying crime ever perpetrated in the history of mankind. I do not know whether you are aware that my father was a jew and that Violet is a Jewess. Moreover I had three old aunts living in Germany, two who were unmarried had lived in the same house in Hamburg practically all their lives, the other in berlin where her husband was editor of the best critical and literary review in Germany. You can imagine when these horrors are being inflicted upon people like themselves what my feelings are for they would have been no more spared than others and by now might have been done to death under conditions too terrible for words. I am, indeed, so afflicted by these horrors that I cannot get my mind off them unless I succeed in getting absorbed in a really fine book or in a work of art such as Kokoschka's which takes possession of me. I must get Feuchtwanger's 'The Devil in France' although such experiences as his arouse such a deadly hatred that one can hardly bear reading the account of them.
I can well believe that the Dieppe picture gives you a lot of trouble. I cannot imagine how you will tackle such a difficult subject. It demands above all movement of the most violent kind to give the impression of this action taking place before the onlookers' eyes.
It is very sad about Eric Ravilious. I have never seen anything of his I did not admire. It was so good in a fundamental sense, in drawing and construction. What a disgraceful thing that no compensation will be paid to his widow especially that nothing was given her at least to see her through to recovery from her operation.
How delighted Crispin will be with his caravan. I am always so envious of people like yourself who can 'make' things and what a delightful joint work with Mavis whose interior decorations including curtains and bedding will, I am sure, be worthy of your craftsmanship. I also hope he will take care of it as i am certain it will be worth preservation as a work of art. Do tell Caroline from me to be very very gentle in her treatment of it. I have always liked Dalmatians but though I have owned many dogs in my life I never had one. In olden days they used to be considered carriage dogs and were trained to run along between the two back wheels of a carriage with a pair of horses in front over which they stood guard when their masters or mistresses had entered a house or a shop.
I wish I were able to write you something interesting but I fear I am not equal to it as recently I have been feeling very tired. I do hope when spring comes there will be a chance for me to see you and even perhaps that you could come down herea nd stay a night so that we could have a really good talk together.
I think in an earlier letter I asked you if you had some photographs of your recent works. You are so handy and versatile that I am sure your photographs would, as far as photographs can do so, give me a sound impression of the original. Please reply to this when you write. Have you the intention of showing your Dieppe possibly with others? If so be sure and let me know and I will try by hook or by crook to see it or them.
Yesterday was the shortest day of the year and reminds me of an old uncle of mine who on this date every year came round [and] said that at least that was something to be thankful for and he was not thankful for much I can assure you. He was a grumpy old fellow but a very kind-hearted one and was my benefactor all his life. He died on Armistice day after the last waar. Little did he know the depth of infamy germany would reach 21 years later.
And so farewell and do not let it be too long before I hear from you again. Our love to all of you.
yours ever,
Sydney S.



8813.64
[Ans'd at last 23 April '43]
Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

25 March 1942

My dear Schiff,
I am quite horrified to discover that the date of your last letter to me was 22 dec. and I have not therefore written to you this letter. I don't know what has come over me; various worries over one thing and another have all contributed to my neglect, and time seems to go so rapidly. I only hope you have been keeping well. Everyone here seems to be ill. My parents are ill and have no help in the house at all. So we are doing our best, but we have also had two of my sister's children to look after while their brother was making his debut. Fortunately the weather has been so good so they could be out of doors. But my Father is becoming increasingly difficult, mostly nerves I think, and he must be a terrible trial to my mother who has got one of her bronchial attacks which may last for weeks. When I tell you that she contracted T.B. of the lungs twenty years or more ago you will understand how dangerous this is. I am not given to being sentimental about my family, most of them I actually dislike! But I often think my mother is almost a saint, my father's irritability which she cannot get away from would drive me mad, but she somehow keeps patient and thinks about the sufferings of other people and what she can do to help. She is worried because she can't get up and work and garden, she makes clothes out of the most hopeless looking rags and sends them to a miner's family. In the summer she makes jam etc and puts it in tins and sends it to them. But I couldn't give you any idea of it all. I remember it started at the end of the last war when she used to sew up butter and tins of food into parcels and send them to a poor family in Germany as 'Gift Parcels' with all the forms and things to fill in. She had five of us children to look after, and I suppose she let herself get run down. The result was years of bed and sanatoriums. However, this can't be of much interest to you.
We have all had these dreadful colds that have been everywhere.
You ask in your letter whether I was aware that your father was a Jew. Yes, I gathered there was some jewish blood there, and your wife too. I have a very great respect for the Jewish race, their family feelings are so fine. I always liked the Jews in Bradford where I was brought up.
Since I read 'The Devil in France' by Feuchtwanger, I have seen several reviews of it, mostly unfavourable. I wonder if you have read it now? I can well understand your horror over all this madness. The boy my parents took as a refugee from Vienna heard not long ago that his parents who are old have been sent to Poland, and of course he knows what that means. For some time his father was not molested because he was a good chemist.
But I must tell you about this.
The Dieppe picture is finished at last, but it seems to me to be a failure, as a matter of fact I neglected the violent movement motif from the start and tried to compress the seven different actions into one, the picture taking the form of a triptych, in the centre the sun rising and the ships going into hell's mouth, the two side pieces cut off from the centre by smoke columns and water columns, the time of day being earlier than the central portion. But all this had to be modified considerably. I shall be better able to judge it when it is framed.
My little show is due to open at the Redfern Gallery on the 8th of next month. It is quite unpretentious, but I hope it will be satisfactory. I am so sorry I can not send you any photographs of my work, it is impossible to get photographic material now, and I cannot afford to get a photographer to do it, finance is another worry at present! but I won't go into that. I will let you know when Dieppe is being shown. I suspect it will be some time yet. The national Gallery opens a new room every three months or so. One or two of my best works they can't exhibit because of the censor.
I do wish I could come and see you, I hoped I should be able to early next month, but unless my mother gets better rapidly I don't see how I can do it. Mavis wants to visit London for a day but it is almost impossible. Caroline is lovely, though she too has the plague. I will write again in about ten days. Yours, Richard Eurich.



Richard Eurich, The Landing at Dieppe, 19th August 1942



8813.65
Abinger Common,
Near Dorking,
Surrey

7th April, 1943

Dear Richard,
Delighted to get your card and to know that you will have a couple of days free for us and will come here on either the 22nd or the 23rd […]. I am very sorry we cannot put you up owing to restrictive domestic arrangements nor, alas, at the Abinger Hatch Hotel close-by as the latter is full up for easter. We hope, however, you will come down for lunch on either of the days you mention. You could take the 11.7 train from waterloo to Dorking North station (under an hours journey) and from there take the bus to Wotton Manor Farm (about 20 minutes). From there I am afraid you will have to find your way on foot. It is a pleasant walk of about 20 minutes and anybody will tell you the shortest way to this house. I only regret that my legs will not permit me to meet you and walk with you here but this is not possible and petrol restrictions prevent my fetching you in a car.
Please drop us a postcard to confirm your arrival on whichever day you can come.
Yours ever
Sydney Schiff


8813.66
Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

17 April 1943

Dear Schiff,
Thank you for your note of the 7th. I had not realized that it was easter week-end I was to be in town, it looks as though travelling will be difficult, and it seems I am to be busy all day on the 22nd and 23rd so I may have to come up on Wednesday the 21st. I think the only hope is for me to come to see you that day if it is convenient. I shall have to get a very early train from here to catch the 11.7 from Waterloo.
If this is inconvenient I wonder whether you could telegraph? as I am afraid a card would not reach me in time?
Yours ever
Richard Eurich.
I am sorry to be so troublesome!



8813.67
Abinger Manor,
Abinger Common,
Nr Dorking

23.IV.43

Dear Richard
I fear you must have thought me very inconsiderate but though appearances would justify that view the cause of my failure to see you is that the medical consultation for which I went to London lasted so long that I only reached Claridge's at 5.11 and of course you had gone.
Moreover illness accounts for my having been so long silent. Both of us have been very unwell, my wife especially; indeed my anxiety on her account has undermined my nervous system and this in conjunction with the increasing weakness of my heart accounts for my inability for some time past to live my usual life and even to write letters. I am now slowly recovering my normal vitality and with summer (always my best time) approaching my general condition will improve.
Your last letter dated 25 March lies before me, as always a great pleasure to receive. But I am much concerned to have such bad news of your parents' health and your mother's condition must have caused you grave anxiety. She must indeed be not 'almost' but quite 'a saint'. May God, in whose mercy and love I profoundly believe and trust, sustain and comfort her. In such times your dear wife and children are the greatest consolation.
I deeply wanted to visit your show at the Redfern and shall hope to do so when I go to London in four weeks' time (if I am able to get there). I hope it will still be on. By hook or crook I must see your 'Dieppe'. I am sure it is not a failure. From your description of its form it must be an exceedingly interesting work. Your lovely landscape is an abiding delight to me and has been admired by all those of my friends whose judgment I value. I have from the beginning of my acquaintance with your work believed completely in its permanent value and I am certain that your power will continue to develope as you mature.
Forgive this dull letter. I shall hope to be lighter next time. As yet my weakness dogs me. So for the time being I resign myself to quasi impotence. I often think of you and yours and always with real interest and sympathy.
Give Mavis my love and kiss Caroline who by this time must be as well and bright as ever.
Perhaps you will manage to come here presently. This is for me the most interesting time in the garden which is my great refreshment. It is a small homely affair but to me the call of spring […] sounds is irresistable.
May all be well with you and yours
Your affectionate friend
Sydney S.
You will be very welcome if you can get down here for the day leaving London in time for early lunch and taking the last train arriving in London before the black-out. I shall insist on paying your expenses.




8813.68
Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

26 April 1943

My Dear Schiff,
Thank you so much for your letter, I was indeed bitterly disappointed when you did not turn up at Claridges. If you did turn up at 5.15 I must have only just missed you somehow, because the clock inside registered about 5.20 when I finally gave you up. It is very difficult these days to make arrangements and stick to them. I do hope I shall be able to see you in the summer, and I also hope your wife will take a turn for the better. Everyone seems to be having trouble with illness these days, the mild winter must have a lot to do with it.
I am sorry my show at the Redfern will be over on Saturday of this week. I had hoped very much that you might be able to look in, as it is a bit different to usual. (What a sentence!) The 'Dieppe' is at the Royal Academy, I smuggled it in at the last moment.
This is not intended to be a letter, just a line in answer to yours. I shall probably be writing again soon, and remember, I shall not be offended in any way if you do not reply.
My Mother is very much better tho' Father is a great trouble and worry. Crispin is getting on well now and Miss Caroline is wonderful. At the moment the rest of the family has gone out on a picnic leaving me and Caroline together. She listened to the 'New World' symphony and played quietly on the floor occasionally smiling at me. I quite enjoy being left alone with her.
Our garden too is a great pleasure, tho' the last fortnight has been so urgent, the amount of work being so great that the leisurely enjoyment has not been evident, but what a difference we have made to it!
I must say goodbye for the moment as I have an accumulation of correspondence.
We all send our best wishes
Yours ever
Richard Eurich.




8813.69
[Ack'd at same time sending him RM & S. 4.VI.43]
Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

24 May 1943

My Dear Schiff,
I feel I want to write to you, but find it most difficult to formulate my words and feelings. I was so very disappointed over our missing each other in London.
I have been almost submerged in notices from the papers concerning my 'Dieppe' painting, and I am sorry to say the effect on me is somewhat paralyzing (I hope you don't mind my weird and wonderful spelling? I expect you have noticed it before! I just can't spell.) I suppose I should be grateful to be noticed at all, but then it is one of the few largish paintings in the R.A. and I feel that the critics who haven't noticed it, do so deliberatelyas a method of conveying their contempt for it. One correspondent says the critics were sharply divided about it. What bothers me is that a number of them say it is 'Turneresque'. When I think I spent five months struggling with the subject with not a thought about any other painter, living or dead, in my mind, it seems a bit unjust. Can it be just because it has a sunrise in it? I believe most people who have never seen a Turner would say 'Oh yes, Turneresque' when confronted with a painting of this sort. The only influence I felt when painting it was a curious one; I enjoyed immensely a complete broadcast of Mozart's 'Magic Flute' a while back, and you may remember in this the solemn ordeal by fire and water? and I remembered a setting employed when I saw this opera in Bradford when I was a boy, great jets of steam with coloured lighting, altogether a bit like a Blake engraving of the gates of hell. I felt then that this must be my aim: a trial by fire, air and water. That seems to sum up the Dieppe raid to me. And yet the critics still dismiss it as 'another illustration of facts', by which they mean there is nothing imaginative or creative in it. One says the shell bursts look too woolly, of course they do! because they are a smoke screen! not shell bursts in the water. I wish I could send a photo of it, it has been in the press, but quite inadequate, and I haven't been sent a print from the Ministry of Information yet.
The telegraph says it is 'Too near decoration to capture actuality'. Another says I was being 'congratulated on the skill and realism with which on canvas he has given permanent form to the glory and the awfulness of the Dieppe raid.' 'Cavalcade' says 'By far the most ambitious picture in the exhibition is Richard Eurich's large "Dieppe" – a study of the famous raid in progress. Eurich is one of the most accomplished of living british painters, but he is hardly up to a work of this size and scope. A notable courage went to the making of it, and it is a grand failure.'
Oh well, I shouldn't go on like this! and I have had to put this letter aside as my wife suddenly turned up from a stay with her parents. She has had a very bad finger, (a witlow, I think they call it) which has incapacitated her when washing and all the usual house work and looking after Caroline is concerned. It is now 31st May, she has returned to her parents after having seen that I was getting on all right, and I am hoping she will be back soon.
We went a day or two ago on our cycles to the nearest bit of sea opposite the Isle of Wight, it all looked so beautiful, and no barbed wire thank goodness! we thought and talked of family outings this summer if Caroline will ride in a little basket chair on the back of Mavis' bike, and today I have been so fortunate as to get a second hand cycle for Crispin, his old one on which he rode astonishing distances completely broke up past mending, as it was very old, so now after months of waiting we have got one. His pleasure will be wonderful to behold when he comes home from school. My little show at the Redfern Gallery was not a success from the sales point of view, for which I am sorry, not that I am in any need, but Nan Kivell has always been so good to me and for his sake I could have wished for something better. The painting of 'Grock' was purchased by the Contemporary Art Society, and strangely enough the little 'Refugee' horror was bought by a private purchaser. A little landscape I painted some years ago which I have always had an affection for but which hasn't enough 'shout'  to attract attention, and so has never been hung, was amongst 'also rans' stacked on the floor, evidently John Rothenstein found it and liked it, and wishes to have it up before the Chantrey Bequest Committee for purchase. Nan Kivell whose judgement I think a great deal of […] 
I have occasionally told him that I feel he is wrong not to exhibit quiet pictures which have no immediate appeal. Of course a dealer has to try to take the public by storm, particularly when an unknown painter is the exhibitor. I think this landscape is the kind of thing you would like, a small harbour, just the sea walls remaining, quite deserted and the surrounding cliffs falling in the sea round it, the foundations of some kind of brick works, and the foreground all weeds and thistles. The scene is a Yorkshire one, it must have been unused for years and has a most nostalgic feeling about it.
I am now going to paint the cheerful subject of the great North African convoy. The question is, how can one paint a lot of ships in the simplest way so as to give the feeling of a shout of joy? which is my reaction to the subject. I want to paint it in such a way as to completely disarm criticism!
I hear that the War Artists Committee don't want any more of my shipwreck scenes! I have only done two very small panels which they won't exhibit, the third has a happy ending so they don't mind! If the spirit moves me I shall go on doing them. I wonder what Goya would have said to such a request? I can't see myself as doing war paintings as a kind of public entertainment.
How are you both keeping now? I hope the warmer weather has given you a greater feeling of contentment. Our garden is really looking more established than it has ever done, and I long to get out a deck chair, pipe and book, and be lazy. But alas I can't, and the garden itself calls for enormous efforts to keep it going. I am afraid I have written a very poor and uninteresting letter, but please accept all our best wishes, and rest assured we often think and talk about you. I want very much to get your book 'Richard. Myrtle and I' for my wife's birthday in August if it is obtainable. She would like it as much as anything. We treasure the 'True Story' and 'The Other Side' so much.
Yours ever
Richard Eurich.



8813.70
Abinger Manor,
Abinger Common,
Nr Dorking

4.VI.43

My dear Richard
I have rarely received a letter which gave me as much pleasure as yours did which though dated May 24th only reached me on Wednesday. Though with characteristic consideration and modesty you specially assure me that you absolve me from answering it as it deserves forthwith, I cannot do less than send you these few lines of thanks now and at the same time assure you that it shall receive more ample appreciation as soon as I feel able to do justice to the comments and observations it has evoked in my mind.
Meanwhile I am sending you 'Richard, Myrtle and I' though with a certain reluctance because you have asked for it but also because it represents an attitude to life and what the French call an état d'âme both of which I have long ago repudiated. I should like you to regard it as in the nature of an experiment, a sort of 'jeu d'esprit' (again I make use of the French aptitude for phrase) with or in spite of the deficiencies not to say deformations that sort of manner involves. I shall be quietly interested to know what your reaction will be to this book and I shall hope you will deal faithfully with me and not hesitate to express exactly what you feel about it – remembering that 13 years have gone by since it was written and that my little story 'The other Side' written in my 67th year comes infinitely nearer expressing my sentiments and my sensibility today than any I have previopusly writte, except 'Myrtle' which I do not remember to have sent you. If you tell me I haven't, would you care to have it after you have digested R.M & I – if you are able to digest it.
With love to Jane, to Crispin and to Caroline
Yours affectionately
Sydney S.



8813.71
[14.VI.43
Sent him Karen Brixen Winters Tales]

Appletreewick
Dibden Purlieu
Southampton

10 June 1943

My dear Schiff
Such a pleasure to receive your book! After I posted my last letter to you I felt a pang, as I seemed to have 'asked' for it, and I can assure you it was far from my mind when I said I anted to get it for Mavis for her birthday, but I must not spoil it. We do thank you so much, you have no idea how much we value it. What is so interesting is that we have long discussions about your books both during and after reading. But I must not start on a long letter now, this is intended just as an acknowledgement of the book, very formal and all that!
I was surprised my letter had proved interesting, the date was misleading, as I remarked half way through it; an interruption occurred which lasted several days I believe, and I lost the thread of what I intended to say. Since then, more notices about 'Dieppe' have come in, (I must have had about forty) and I look forward to a letter from you, and then no doubt you will suffer another tiresome letter from me. But you have no idea how much I value your letters and advice or whatever they contain. You see, I am now at the most difficult mental stage of all, youthful confidence and any exuberance that there may have been has gone, and very serious problems are ahead, all of which is complicated by my present job, and it looks as though I shall inflict you with a long story of my difficulties sooner or later. You are the only being I know who can help me or perhaps endorse my own feelings so that I can be more sure of them.
Would you be very good and let me lend you a small painting? It seems the only thing I can do to show a little of my feeling.
I am going up to London for a Royal Academy meeting on the 22nd and hope to pop in at the Redfern Gallery. If they still have the painting of the Jew from a prison camp, would it be repellant to you? I can't think of anything else which has something of the latest 'me; in it, the others being sold.
I do wish you could see Caroline! quite without paternal prejudice, she is charming.
We all send love to you both,
Yours ever
Richard Eurich.




































































































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