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Two Cuala Press Visual Artists

This blog presents the work of two Cuala Press artists, Eileen Greig and Anne Price, about whom the TCD Schooner Foundation Cuala Press research project is seeking more information on their work and careers. It is an objective of the Project to acknowledge and recover overlooked artists who worked for the Press, and to associate the better-known artists with their often-overlooked Cuala design work.

Eileen Greig was a London artist and her involvement with the Cuala Press is the subject of ongoing research in the TCD Schooner Foundation Cuala Press research project. Research has shown that Greig lived for a time on London’s Ravenscourt Road just a short walk from the Yeats’ family home in Bedford Park, and thus it is probable that each household was aware of the other. In terms of her creative output, she is recorded as exhibiting on several occasions at the Royal Academy (1911, 1914, 1915, 1916) annual show, in both miniatures and watercolours classes.

Greig exhibited ‘Decorated Cover of Chest’ at the 1916 English Arts and Crafts Society exhibition in London.  Elizabeth Yeats, a member of the society, also exhibited Cuala Press material at the event. In the same year Elizabeth invited Greig to design a print for the Cuala Press, this was one of the earliest art commissions from an artist by the press outside the family. Up until this time Elizabeth’s brother and sister-in-law, Jack and Mary Cottenham Yeats, had supplied the designs. Greig also designed bookplates for the Cuala Press.

Her most successful design is a work that looks to ancient Ireland as a source. The print titled ‘Midir and King Eochy play a game of chess’ dramatizes an episode from Irish mythology of the High King Eochy playing a game of chess with the Tuath Dé Danann immortal to win the affections of legendary beauty Étain, who watches the game. It is a tale recovered in texts by writers of the Irish Revival, including W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and others, of an engagement between the real-world Gaels and the deities of the Tuath Dé Danann. The design presents a noble Irish chief in the Celtic revivalist tradition, in period dress, setting, and robust appearance. A complex composition with multiple colours it would have been arduous to hand-colour. It is a good example of Irish Revivalist influence on Cuala Press art prints.

Eileen Greig, Midir and King Eochy play a game of chess, c. 1916, Cuala Press, Dublin, hand coloured photoengraved print.

Anne Price, originally from Cork, is a little-known today. However, she exhibited her work widely in her lifetime and was commissioned by Elizabeth Yeats to produce at least eleven designs for the Cuala Press from the 1930s. Like Greig and other artists, she is the subject of ongoing research by the TCD Schooner Foundation Cuala Press research project. In 1950 her address was Taney House, Blackrock, Dublin.

Examples of Price’s creative activity were listed in The Cork Examiner November 1931 report on the Munster Fine Art Club exhibition at the Crawford School of Art. Her work on display in the exhibition’s ‘Black and White drawings and reproductions’ section were described as clever.

The Irish Times in 1934 described her design for a Cuala Press Saint Patrick Day’s card as ‘original’ because it depicted the saint ‘as a young man’ rather than the more usual elderly pose associated with images of Patrick at that time.  ‘Her picture shows the saint, young and slim, standing beside an Irish wolfhound, with the halo around his head, radiating over the quiet hills and dales.’ The verse on the card was a translation of Saint Patrick’s “Confession” from the Book of Armagh.

Price exhibited 25 works at the Dublin Sketching Club annual exhibition between 1947 and 1965. Her earliest exhibition at the Club, Illustration for ‘The Letters of Mrs Delany 1700-1788’, related to her earlier Cuala design to illustrate a Mrs Delaney quote, titled a “Moderate Share”. A contemporary review reported positively on the exhibit, describing “Anne Price’s illustration [a]s clear and attractive”.

From the evidence of the images, Price was clearly an artist of talent. Her work demonstrates a strong graphic sensibility, marked by a balance in the use of Black and white, varied line, textural rendering, and fluid assured draughtspersonship. Price’s themes trace a range of historical periods, and she adapts her style to augment meaning, such as her soft whimsical treatment of 18thC feminine themes and crisp, definitive lines to describe heroic males.

More examples of Anne Price design work for the Cuala Press.

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