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Claude Flight

1881 - 1955

Trinity College, Cambridge and St. John’s 
College Chapel by Claude Flight

Trinity College, Cambridge and St. John’s College Chapel   1921

  Original linocut, printed in colours.
Signed, titled and dated in pencil. Titled and further inscribed on original backboard.
Ref: Not in Coppel.
S 272 x 306 mm; I 248 x 285 mm; backboard 396 x 422 mm
Original Claude Flight linocut, printed in colours.

The only known impression of one of the earliest multiple colour linocuts by Claude Flight.

Unique impression printed in three colours (red, blue and yellow), hinged on to its original backboard which has been rollered with an oil-based orange ink by Claude Flight, in order to give the effect of sunset colouring when the Mulberry tissue of the print itself is placed upon it.

Claude Flight’s pioneering work in linocut led him to develop the concept of creating a printed image from cuts printing as areas of pure colour, without resorting to the use of a traditional ‘key block’. This exceptionally early three-colour linocut displays the beginning of this development. Claude Flight and his colleagues went on to use this multiple colour technique to create highly innovative and dramatically modern images which have now acquired an unique place in the history of British printmaking.

Soon after making this linocut Claude Flight joined the radical, avant-garde group of artists known as the Seven and Five Society. This group of artists was still markedly influenced by the art of the Futurists and Claude Flight remained an active member from 1922 to 1927. He began his association with the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in 1926 and continued to advocate the linocut medium until the beginning of the Second World War. Much of Claude Flight’s work was destroyed when his studio was bombed during the Blitz in 1941.

This very early experimental work shows the beginning of Claude Flight’s transition from the use of water-soluble coloured powder brushed on to the blocks, to the use of oil-based ink applied with a hard gelatin roller. Here, water-soluble powder appears to have been used on the blocks of the image itself, but oil-based ink has been rollered on to the backboard in order to add a fourth dimension of colour to the image. Not long after making this print, Claude Flight began to use oil-based ink on the image blocks themselves. The design of the image in this early linocut relates closely to Notre Dame in Winter (CF2) of 1919 and shares the subject-matter of St. John’s College Cambridge (CF3), the sole known impression of which is also dated to 1921.

This extremely rare early example of Claude Flight’s work in linocut was unknown to Stephen Coppel at the time of writing his leading book on linocuts (which includes the catalogue on Claude Flight’s work – Coppel has since seen this proof and acknowledges that this linocut should be included in any future listing). This unique proof represents the most significant new discovery of Claude Flight’s earliest work in colour linocut.

On very fine Mulberry-style tissue. Hinged to original hand rollered backboard (hinges have been renewed). One expert and totally unobtrusive repair at upper right corner of sheet, otherwise very fine condition.