C F Tunnicliffe Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné

Robert Meyrick, Harry Heuser

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Commissioned by and staged at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, the exhibition Second Nature: The Prints of Charles Tunnicliffe RA is part of an extended research project that examines the professional, personal and institutional forces that shape early to mid-twentieth-century British printmaking and our understanding of it as art and visual culture.

Since the mid-1930s, Tunnicliffe’s pictures have been appreciated mainly second-hand: as reproductions in books and magazines, on calendars and biscuit tins. Children across Britain have learned about nature and the countryside from collectible cards and the Ladybird books he illustrated.

Tunnicliffe’s commissioned work, appreciated mainly for its forensic precision in capturing British birds and native wildlife, eclipsed his earlier accomplishments as an academically trained etcher and wood engraver and complicated the autobiographical reading of subjects reflecting his farming background. Being aligned with book illustration and magazine advertising, his prints were never methodically documented nor appraised for their use of media and techniques. Second Nature, Tunnicliffe’s first Royal Academy solo exhibition since his death, and the accompanying first-ever catalogue raisonné redressed that neglect.

Tracking down all of Tunnicliffe’s 435 prints and establishing a chronology required extensive research in public and private collections. Recovering images of which no lifetime impressions are extant involved sourcing unique plates and blocks. In the absence of scholarly discourse, sources employed include auction records, dealer catalogues, as well as the artist’s unpublished diaries and correspondences.

Critically acclaimed and popular, Second Nature engaged a diverse audience, including children, for whom gallery activities and interpretative materials were especially created. The display was subsequently reinterpreted in a Welsh context to draw on the artist’s life on rural Anglesey and to reflect on his attitudes toward the art market. The catalogue raisonné is now the principal source of reference for historians, curators, art dealers and the general public.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoyal Academy of Arts
Number of pages336
ISBN (Print)9781910350645, 1910350648
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2017


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