Picking Flowers signed 'E. J. Burra' (lower centre) ink and watercolour 37.5 x 27 cm. (14 3/4 x 10 3/4 in.) Executed in 1922
LITERATURE: Andrew Causey, Edward Burra: Complete Catalogue, Phaidon, Oxford, 1985, no.6 (ill.b&w)
Picking Flowers is a rare example of Edward Burra's early illustrative output, which began with designs such as those for The Thief at Robin's Castle from Walter de la Mare's Peacock Pie (1913). Executed in 1922, the present work was completed whilst Burra was studying in the art department at Chelsea Polytechnic and thriving on drawing in particular. Caricature was of interest at this point as were different kinds of style such as clothes, hair arrangements, make up and posture, all of which careful attention has been paid to in Picking Flowers.
Picking Flowers also shows the influence of Claud Lovat Fraser who as Andrew Causey describes 'made small coloured designs as headings for rhyme-sheets and broadsides, in an attempt to bring poetry and visual art together in a revival of eighteenth-century vernacular taste' (see Andrew Causey, p.11). As with much of Fraser's work, Picking Flowers showcases Burra's interest in bright decorative colours that he preferred to formulate in ink but also watercolour.