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Shirley Smith, Richard

Roger W. Moss collection of manuscript, original art and printed material by and about Richard Shirley Smith, 1961-2011.

Physical Description:
15 linear feet (circa 500 items)
Rare Books and Manuscripts
MSS 17
Yale Center for British Art, Gift of Roger W. Moss
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
The collection is open without restriction.
Each of the published works in Series I and II of the present collection has also been cataloged separately.
The collection comprises manuscripts, original art and printed material by and about Richard Shirley Smith, collected by Roger W. Moss. It focuses on books illustrated by Shirley Smith, beginning in 1961. It includes original strikes of virtually all the engravings and bookplates, including items unrecorded in the checklists compiled by Iain Bain and Brian North Lee. Series I-IV of the collection are also described in Moss's Richard Shirley Smith: illustrated books, engravings and bookplates, annotated checklist, Roger W. Moss Collection (Marlborough, England : Libanus Press, 2010); the finding aid for this collection is largely based upon the Moss checklist.
"Richard Shirley Smith was born in London (1935) and educated at Harrow and the Slade School of Fine Art. After a year and a half of further study in Rome, he returned to England in 1962 to support his young family as a freelance graphic designer for commercial publishers ... Most [of his early commissions] were for dust jackets, but occasionally he was asked to illustrate an entire book. He produced fifty drawings for Wilfrid Blunt's Of Flowers & A Village (Hamish Hamilton, 1963), and for each of the nine biographies of musicians by Percy M. Young published by Ernest Benn he provided at least a dozen drawings that ranged from portraits to landscapes and architecture. Fortunately for his later career, some publishers recognized the exceptional quality of his wood engravings, which were far more tedious and time consuming to produce than the mono-types and drawings typically commissioned. Shirley Smith's engraved portrait of Sir Thomas More set against a detailed London background, for example, was commissioned by Burns & Oates and used for several of Ernest Edwin Reynolds's books published in both England and the United States."--Moss.
"It was the art directors at Faber and Faber who particularly favoured Shirley Smith's wood engravings. Ten of these appeared in their edition of Douglas Bartrum's The Gourmet's Garden (1964) and another ten in Elizabeth Clarke's The Darkening Green (1964) ... For Richard Shirley Smith, 1967 stands out [as a turning point in his career]. In that year, seventeen of his wood engravings dating from his studies in Rome were featured by The Golden Head Press in a slim volume of Joyce Finzi's poetry; The Folio Society published thirty of his wood engravings commissioned for their limited edition of Sir Roger de Coverly; and in New York, Macmillan released Memoirs of a London Doll illustrated with fifteen commissioned wood engravings. The 1967 projects prompted the typographical advisor and historian John Dreyfus (1918-2002), who was an agent for the Limited Editions Club in the United States, to suggest Shirley Smith as the illustrator for Stephen Spender's selection of Shelley's poems which was published in 1971. For this commission he executed forty-six wood engravings. Of this project Richard wrote: 'I think ... this was my "masterpiece" as regards engraving' and John Dreyfus would later remark, Shirley Smith 'was able to render intricate details of architecture, landscape, seascape, flora, fauna and the human face--all with equal mastery and with astonishing control of perspective and the lighting of the different planes.' ... Henceforth he would be in demand by The Folio Society, Oxford University Press, and private press publishers such as Libanus, Rocket, Fleece, and Gruffyground which featured his engravings, line drawings, and paintings in finely bound, limited and signed editions, including such publications as Hugh Shankland's Messer Pietro Mio (1985) ..."--Moss.
The series of ephemera includes exhibition announcements, letterheads, dust-jackets, and advertisements. The primary subjects of the correspondence include: the work of the artist, especially his wood engravings; Roger Moss's collecting of Richard Shirley Smith material; Roger Moss's publication of a checklist of his Richard Shirley Smith collection; and the personal friendship of Moss and Shirley Smith.
The collection is arranged into six series: I. Books and Articles on Richard Shirley Smith; II. Publications Designed or Illustrated by Richard Shirley Smith; III. Engraved and Drawn Bookplates by Richard Shirley Smith; IV. Engravings by Richard Shirley Smith; V. Ephemera; VI. Correspondence. Arrangement follows, to the extent possible, that of the checklist by Roger W. Moss.
Subject Terms:
Bookplate designers -- Great Britain.
Bookplates -- Great Britain.
Illustration of books -- Great Britain.
Libanus Press.
Moss, Roger W., 1940- -- Art collections.
Moss, Roger W., 1940- -- Correspondence.
Moss, Roger W., 1940- -- Library.
Shirley Smith, Richard -- Correspondence.
Shirley Smith, Richard -- Exhibitions.
Shirley Smith, Richard.
Wood-engravers -- Great Britain.
Wood-engraving -- Great Britain.
Wood engravings.
Dust jackets.
Printed ephemera.

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