Edward Burne Jones was appalled when he realised that his young friend and follower, Aubrey Beardsley, wanted to be a graphic artist and not a painter like himself. It was so outside Burne Jones take on things, he was unable to comprehend the profound change that was taking place in modern art and the friendship between the young Beardsley and himself proved to be short-lived. Beardsley on the other hand set a standard no serious British illustrator could ignore and some of the most telling work done by young artists like Isabel de B. Lockyer and Jessie Garrow in the twenties was not in colour but in black and white and owed Beardsley a considerable debt.
This means that whatever I say about the watercolour that comes up for sale at McTears on 11th August in Garrow's home town of Glasgow is qualified. Garrow was an able colourist but she had an elegant and descriptive sense of line, which is just as apparent in her illustrations for Wee Willie Winkie as it is in her semi-monochrome colour woodcut, The wave. You will note how far Garrow pared her colours down to cream, dark brown and touches of mauve in this watercolour. The subject may be winsome but the overall control is not. Whether any readers are dedicated enough to buy this work remains to be seen. It is rare, it is interesting, it is Jessie Garrow and, as you all know, Modern Printmakers approves.