Cyril Edward Power (17 December 1872 – 25 May 1951) was an English artist best known for his linocut prints, long-standing artistic partnership with Canadian artist Sybil Andrewsand for co-founding The Grosvenor School Of Modern Art in London in 1925. He was also a successful architect and teacher.
Early years and architecture
Cyril Edward Power was born on 17 December 1872 in Redcliffe Street, Chelsea, the eldest child of Edward William Power who encouraged him to draw from an early age. This passion led to him studying architecture and working in his father’s office before being awarded the Sloane Medallion by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1900 for his design for an art school.
During the early 1920s Power was producing watercolour landscapes and townscapes as well as the first of some 40 drypoints.
Power and Andrews enrolled at Heatherley’s School of Fine Art, London in 1925 when he was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Power also helped Iain McNab and Claude Flight set up The Grosvenor School of Modern Art in Warwick Square, London with Andrews becoming the School Secretary. Power was a principal lecturer, typically on the subjects of: The Form and Structure of Buildings, Historical Ornament and Symbolism and Outline of Architectural Styles and Frank Rutter, the art critic, on Modern Painters from Cézanne to Picasso.
It was here at The Grosvenor School that Claude Flight taught the art of linocutting. His classes were attended by his colleagues Power and Andrews and students that came from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand, attracted by the advertisements in The Studio magazine. Around this time he and Sybil Andrews began co-authoring prints together under the name Andrew Power.
1929 saw Claude Flight and his associates mount the first exhibition of British linocuts in June at the Redfern Gallery, London. A series of exhibitions were held annually both there and at the Ward Gallery. Further exhibitions were arranged by Flight and traveled to the United States Of America, Australia and China.
The success of these exhibitions led to a commission by Frank Pick, the Deputy Chairman of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London to design a series of posters. These were produced as chromolithographyand were based on the theme of sporting venues reached via the London Underground system and lead to further sporting posters which became stylistically influential on other artists of the era.
In 1930 Power was elected member of the Royal Society of British Artists and established a studio with Andrews in Hammersmith close to the River Thames, a location which inspired many prints by both artists, most notably ‘The Eight’ by Power and ‘Bringing in the Boat’ by Sybil Andrews.
Their first major joint exhibition was at the Redfern Gallery in 1933 which consisted of linocuts and monotypes. The following years saw many more joint exhibitions until the dissolution of their informal partnership in July 1938 when they gave up their studio. Andrews moved to her cottage ‘Pipers’, near Lymington on the Hampshire coast which Power had modernised and enlarged the previous year. She met and married shipyard worker Walter Morgan during the war in 1943, and emigrated to Canada with him four years later. Power rejoined the family who had just moved from Hertfordshire to New Malden in Surrey.
In September 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, Power was attached to a Heavy Rescue Squad as a surveyor, based at Wandsworth Town Hall. He continued drawing and painting, tending to work principally in oils using a palette knife technique. He also spent time lecturing on painting and linocutting to the local art society at New Malden and at Kingston-Upon-Thames.
During the last year of his life Power completed some eighty-nine oil paintings, a format he had grown increasingly fond of in the preceding years. These were mainly landscapes of the surrounding areas, often Helford River and the Falmouth area of Cornwall as well as some floral studies. He died in London in May 1951, aged seventy-eight.
- The Tube Station (1932)
- The Tube Staircase (1929)
- Skaters (1930)
- The Eight (1930)
- The Merry Go Round (1931)
Clifford S Ackley ed British Prints from the Machine Age: Rhythms of Modern Life 1914-1947 Thames and Hudson 2008