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Robert Gibbings (British, 1889-1958)


Robert Gibbings was born in Cork, Ireland. He was educated locally and went on to study medicine for two years at University College, Cork. He later studied art, briefly at the Slade and also at the Central School of Art. He began to experiment with wood engraving, and while on active service in World War I made numerous drawings which he later engraved. After the war he was instrumental in setting up the Society of Wood Engravers. Between 1924 and 1933 Gibbings owned the Golden Cockerel Press at Waltham St Lawrence, near Reading. He directed all aspects of book printing and illustration, decorating many of the publications with wood engravings by himself and other leading artists including Eric Gill. During his time at Waltham he carved a small number of major pieces in stone. The economic slump forced him to sell the press in 1933 and he moved to Cornwall. In 1936 Gibbings became senior lecturer in typography, book production and engraving at Reading University. In 1938 he held a one-man exhibition at Reading Museum titled ‘Twenty Years of Engraving’. His long interest in natural history and his travels resulted in a number of books which he both wrote and illustrated:Sweet Thames Run Softly (1940) was a particular success. In 1955 Gibbings moved from London to Long Wittenham, a village on the banks of the upper Thames. His last book, Till I End My Song, published in 1957, is principally about this village.

Reference: Patience Empson (ed.), The Wood Engravings of Robert Gibbings (1959). Mary A Kirkus, Robert Gibbings: A Bibliography, ed. Patience Empson and John Harris (1962); Andrews, Martin, J. The Life and Work of Robert Gibbings, 2003.


Robert Gibbings. The Mill


The Mill
Wood engraving included in Twelve Wood engravings (privately published, 1921)
Wood engraving on paper, signed by the artist
1918
108 x 70mm.

References: recorded in Empson, Patience, The Wood-engravings of Robert Gibbings, 1949: 11.

SOLD

A rare and early engraving by Gibbings from 1918.


Robert Gibbings. St. Pachome, Abbot of Taberne

St. Pachome, Abbot of Taberne
Wood engraving for Beasts and Saints by Helen Waddell (1934)
Wood engraving on paper, signed by the artist
1934
120 x 94mm.

References: recorded in Empson, Patience, The Wood-engravings of Robert Gibbings, 1949: 140; illustrated in Andrews, Martin, J. The Life and Work of Robert Gibbings, 2003: 185.

SOLD

A striking wood engraving from 1934 to illustrate Helen Waddell’s book Beasts and Saints which was a collection of stories and folk tales on the theme of ‘the mutual charities between saints and beasts’ dating from the fourth to the twelfth centuries and translated from the Latin by Waddell. Gibbings was particularly satisfied with his work for the book, recalling ‘My engravings in these two books were the best that I had so far accomplished, and gradually the sadness I felt at losing my press was dissipated.’ (Robert Gibbings, Some Recollections, from Patience Empson, The Wood-engravings of Robert Gibbings, 1949: xlii).

2001-2012 Cambridge Book & Print Gallery

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