Bi­og­ra­phy

Country Life Every Week - - Books -

Ed­ward Ardiz­zone: Artist and Il­lus­tra­tor

Alan Pow­ers (Lund Humphries, £40)

ED­WARD ARDIZ­ZONE (1900–79), like his friend John Bet­je­man, is one of those re­mark­able fig­ures who, by swim­ming against con­tem­po­rary taste, have in­sid­i­ously worked their way into the Bri­tish—dare I say, English—psy­che. It’s pure co­in­ci­dence that their fam­ily roots were alien—in Bet­je­man’s case, Dutch and in Ardiz­zone’s, Fran­coital­ian—as two more typ­i­cally English old buf­fers would be hard to find. This book is part bi­og­ra­phy and part an anal­y­sis and de­scrip­tion of Ardiz­zone’s work—most par­tic­u­larly, as the ti­tle sug­gests, of his work as an il­lus­tra­tor and graphic artist, al­though he also painted in oils.

Ardiz­zone prob­a­bly shared Rav­il­ious’s view that paint­ing in oils was like paint­ing with tooth­paste and he was un­doubt­edly hap­pi­est with pen, black ink and wa­ter­colour, al­though his large dec­o­ra­tive pan­els rein­ter­pret­ing Ti­tian’s Pre­sen­ta­tion of the Vir­gin, painted for the Carmelite church in Faver­sham, Kent,

The Ride of My Life

Michael Clay­ton (Mer­lin Un­win Books, £20) look a re­mark­able achieve­ment. How­ever, it was in his chil­dren’s books, espe­cially those de­voted to Tim and Gin­ger, Lucy Brown, Mr Grimes and Nurse Matilda, that he re­vealed his true self.

These books, based on sto­ries he made up—os­ten­si­bly to amuse his own chil­dren, al­though surely as much for his own plea­sure—are redo­lent with ‘the au­then­tic­ity of rec­ol­lected child­hood’. Ardiz­zone al­ways treated his read­ers as equals, telling them slightly risqué sto­ries

I have lived my life—and it is nearly done—/i have played the game all round/but I freely ad­mit that the best of my fun/i owe it to horse and hound.’ It is with this quote from Ge­orge Whyte-melville’s poem that Michael Clay­ton (above), for­mer war reporter, edi­tor of Horse & Hound mag­a­zine in the days when ‘hack­ing’ re­ferred to rid­ing out and not sus­pi­cious phone ac­tiv­ity and a hunt­ing man through and through, fit­tingly con­cludes his mem­oir. From rub­bing shoul­ders with roy­alty to risk­ing his neck across coun­try in the name of duty, this is the fas­ci­nat­ing and frankly told tale of one of the great ed­i­tors and horse­men of his gen­er­a­tion—a must for any fan of horse or hound. Vic­to­ria Marston packed with ad­ven­tures, care­less par­ents, use­less adults and brave chil­dren, whose re­source­ful­ness en­ables them to elude the greatest dan­gers.

How­ever, his scope was far wider than chil­dren’s sto­ries and it will sur­prise many read­ers that this ‘good hu­moured spaniel’, as Lillian Browse de­scribed him, il­lus­trated more than 160 books by au­thors rang­ing from Bun­yan to Barrie. Wal­ter de la Mare, Robert Graves, Eleanor Far­jeon and James Reeves were his favourites.

Alan Pow­ers gives the reader de­light­ful in­sights into Ardiz­zone’s self-con­tained but way­ward char­ac­ter, which was at one with the world he drew. Among the sources he quotes is a let­ter from the rather more pu­ri­tan­i­cal Ed­ward Baw­den, who, with slightly grudg­ing ad­mi­ra­tion, wrote: ‘Your pen curls around skirts and breasts and bot­toms, while mine takes its recre­ation in for­mal geo­met­ric rec­ti­tude.’

This may have been in re­sponse to an il­lus­trated wartime let­ter care­fully pre­served by Baw­den, in which Ardiz­zone de­scribes paint­ing an en­chant­ing group of WRNS, ‘small and dumpy with

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