Quentin Blake’s distinctive and humorous high-energy illustrations have amused and intrigued admirersfor more than six decades. So a show of never-before-seen works to mark the artist’s 80th birthday on December 16 is cause for celebration.
Head of the Royal College of Art’sillustration department from 1978 to 1986, Blake isbest known for the images he created to accompany Roald Dahl’s stories and his own children’sbooks. Indeed, he was crowned the inaugural British Children’s Laureate in 1999. However, the work presented in the Marlborough Fine Art show is far morepersonal – a collection of new drawings, etchings and lithographs that standalone from a written narrative.
Acutely observed relationships betweenyoung and old, family and friends, humans and animals give rise to pictures thatdelight in the emotion and absurdity of life. Humour, sadness, joy anddisappointment leap from the page through subtle nuances of pencil, pastel,watercolour and etching needle. Series include The Insects colour etchings andaquatints (£600 unframed), Girl and Dogs lithographs (£1,020 unframed),Sporting Women watercolour pastels (example in fourth picture, £6,000 framed), Women in Water watercolour pastels (example in third picture, £4,200 framed) and Old and Young in pen, inkand watercolour (examples in first and second pictures, £4,800 framed). There are also two series in black chinagraph marker: Characters in Search of a Story and Companions (£4,800 framed).
A fully illustratedcatalogue (£5), with an introduction by historian Jenny Uglow, is also availableat this delightful show – a toast to Blake’s evergreen draughtsmanship and wonderfully imaginative and witty observations of life.