Richard Eurich was born in 1903 in Bradford and studied at the Bradford School of Art 1922-24, before going onto the Slade School of Art 1924-26. Here he, like many others of his cohort, was inspired by the trends in French paintings championed by Roger Fry and Clive Bell, despite the attestations of his teacher Henry Tonks. Indeed, one of his reports from the Slade reads: “this student is being influenced by painters who have not been dead long enough to be respectable”, probably in reference to Cezanne, Picasso and Severini amongst other Post-Impressionist artists. He also took great inspiration from the Old Masters whilst at the Slade, later proposing that you could learn all you needed to about composition and technique from studying the Old Masters.
At the Slade Eurich worked mostly on drawing, commenting that the quality of painting there was ‘completely lacking in vitality.’ He was a talented draughtsman, winning the Slade’s Sketch Club prize every month for his entries during his last term. However, shortly after leaving the Slade he switched to painting because of the strain on his eyes the painstaking process of drawing caused them.
While he had been a student at the Slade, he sold two works to Sir Edward Marsh, Churchill’s secretary and committee member of the Contemporary Art Society. Marsh, with the help of Eric Gill was instrumental in organising Eurich’s first solo exhibition at the Goupil Gallery in 1929. During the opening of the exhibition, Eurich was advised by Christopher Wood to “paint what you love and damn all fashions which come and go,” advice that greatly informed Eurich’s artistic output, as he never joined a group or movement and worked in an idiosyncratic style, in relative isolation from other artists.
Eurich began displaying at the Redfern gallery in 1933, and continued to do so until the late 1950s. His sixteen exhibitions were successful, particularly in the 1930s, when many of his paintings were bought for public collections. One of which Blue Barge (1934), sold to the Contemporary Art Society which enabled him to marry Mavis Pope and build their home in Dibden Purlieu where he spent the rest of his life living and working. 1936-1939 Eurich displayed alongside artists such as Ivon Hitchens, Stanley Spencer and Augustus John in International Exhibition of Painters at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh.
During the Second World War he applied to be an Official War Painter for the Admiralty. In some of his many seascapes punctuated by fire and smoke, Eurich pays homage to Turner’s sunsets, where fiery reds diffuse through a misty horizon, such as The Landing at Dieppe, 19th August 1942, now in the Tate Collection. His war paintings encapsulate Eurich’s intuitive sense of perspective and ability to convincingly imagine viewpoints that he had never seen. He rarely made direct studies for large compositions and claimed not to know how to square up a canvas. Instead, he started from a singular point, the root of the imagined scene, and from there gradually worked outwards, modelling and applying colour as he went. Men who had been present at the various war scenes that Eurich depicted found his war painting remarkable in their compositional and factual accuracy.
After the war he sought relief from the devastating and serious themes his work had been covering and depicted towns, seaside resorts and nursery stories, again using his instinctive understanding of perspective to map out surreal landscapes, half-remembered from his own childhood. He became a Royal Academician in 1953 and later taught at the Camberwell School of Art from 1949 to 1968. In 1979 there was a major retrospective of his work at the Bradford Art Galleries and Museum and in 1991 his work was well-received by critics and public at the Imperial War Museum in Richard Eurich: D-day to Dunkirk, just one year before he passed away in 1992.