The Thief pen, ink and wash 27 x 37.5 cm. (10 3/4 x 14 3/4 in.) Executed in 1922
PROVENANCE: With Anthony d'Offay, London, where purchased by the present owner
EXHIBITED: London, Anthony d'Offay, Edward Burra, Drawings and Watercolours, 1 April - 3 May 1980, no.3
LITERATURE: Andrew Causey, Edward Burra, Complete Catalogue, Phaidon, Oxford, 1985, cat.no.11 (ill.b&w)
The Thief is a rare example of Edward Burra's early illustrative output. The present, finished, work dates to 1922 and is related to a group of designs from the artist's sketchbook for The Thief at Robin's Castle from Walter de la Mare's Peacock Pie (1913), which tells the story of a thief who stole children and then threw them into a sack, carrying them off to a foreign country.
In his literature on the artist, Andrew Causey notes 'In his sketchbook he drew the thief with his sack fleeing from a cataclysmic scene involving a monster with a hideous nose, prophetic of the later 'birdmen' but unrelated to de la Mare, while in the finished picture (the present work) one of the children swings its doll contentedly in the air and both seem happy in their new country'. (Andrew Causey, Edward Burra, Complete Catalogue, Phaidon, Oxford, 1985, p.11)