Saturday, 13 November 2010

William Neave Parker (British, 1910 - 1961) animals before Adam


Having made mention of William Neave Parker in the last post, I thought I should try and do him some justice. In our ignorance we used to regard him as an also-ran but as you see he was a skilled and flexible draughtsman, able to turn his hand to fine drawing, woodcut and linocut although it is by no means clear to me what method he was always using for his prints. Wild cat, like all his colour prints, is lino. Some are signed and some are not, but all of them were published trimmed as you see here. Many of them also come attached to a sheet, which again is original.

Despite his obvious skill, his father had refused to allow him to train as an artist and he found himself working in a bank where people were kept behind each night searching for errors - they were always his. Service in the RAF during the second war was followed by a request from the Natural History Museum in London to produce drawings to illustrate palaeontological reconstruction. He then also did work for the Illustrated London News from 1950 onwards. It would be easy enough to slip into mild satire but the bear has a nice sense of line and life - it's convincing - and oddly enough he does fit into the British tradition of animal illustration that begins with Thomas Bewick and works its way towards CF Tunnicliffe. I have seen it described as both wood-engraving and linocut but I am a bit dubious about both those claims.

His linocuts are often a touch crude but this is all the work of a man who had to train himself. This tiger is direct, daunting and well-proportioned. I have a friend with a fluid little weasal by him which I encouraged her to buy instead of buying it myself! He carried on working on childrens book illustration, specially the dinosaurs, which seem so true of the time, untill his own extinction in a cinema, aged 51.

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