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Edward Burra
Dates: British, 1905 - 1976
Biographical Account:

Edward Burra, an English painter, illustrator and stage designer born in London. He studied at the Chelsea Polytechnic School of art in 1921–23 and then at the Royal College of Art in1923–25.


Burra was a member of the Surrealist group in England and worked mainly in watercolour. For all his life Burra suffered from poor health and found watercolour was a medium which was less physically demanding. The paintings were predominantly on a very large scale, he would join several sheets of paper that he had worked on individually. After applying pencil onto the paper he then applied layers of gouache, watercolour and ink, different techniques were applied to highlight and contrast parts of the painting.


Burra started out painting urban scenes with low-life subjects, such as the scenes of the crowded dance floors in the Paris clubs, which were influenced by Cubism, Dada and Surrealism. More violent imagery can be seen in the works from his experiences in the Mediterranean, skeletons, soldiers and monsters in bird-like masks respond to the Spanish Civil War and World War I. In his later life he changed his direction to painting landscapes, places that were bleak and lonely, such as the Yorkshire moors.


Burra died unmarried on 22nd October 1976.

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