Maurice Percival illustrator


IMG_5526Found– Moonlight at the Globe;: An essay in Shakespeare production based on performance of A `Midsummer Night’s Dream at Harrow School (Joseph, London 1946). It was written by Ronald Watkins O.B.E.  a drama teacher who at the time of the book was working at Harrow. This copy bears a signed presentation from the book’s illustrator Maurice Percival (to ‘Ted and Jessie’) with a letter in an excellent italic hand and an attractive self portrait drawing – both on Harrow School Art School notepaper. Percival illustrated 2 other books with text by Watkins- both on Shakespeare.

Percival falls beneath the Wiki radar but there is scattered information  on the web and an interesting press cutting about him loosely inserted in the book. This is from The Daily Telegraph Peterborough column in 1958  and was occasioned by an exhibition of 240 of Percival’s drawings of Roman scenes at Richmond Central Library. The article notes that he had been teaching art at Harrow (1945-1954), formerly at Malvern and as a locum for Wilfrid Blunt at Eton. Peterborough also writes that MP admits to being ‘quite non-plussed when confronted with nature’ and ‘wildly inaccurate..few artists care to make either claim.’  The exhibition also had a photograph of King Faisal II as a schoolboy at Harrow ‘doing some italic  writing.’  Presumably the ill fated king* was taught by MP, something of a calligrapher as well as a fine draughtsman.

*He had just been executed at the age of 23.

12 thoughts on “Maurice Percival illustrator

  1. Anthony Sillem

    At some point Percival moved on from Harrow as he was art master at Downside for several years in the early 1960s. He made a significant contribution by encouraging a school of some 400 boys to take up italic handwriting, perhaps making life a little easier for the masters who had the no doubt frequently wearisome job of attempting to decipher their essays.

  2. Matthew Willis

    A self portrait of my great uncle; i remember letters from Maurice in his wonderful script all the more significant given his having to relearn how to write after losing his right arm in the period before the War. Some of his collection is at the V&A, other articles of interest, including correspondence with his friend David Jones, in the National Library of Wales. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Tony

      Hi.. Im interested in your uncle Maurice percival and in particular his murals.
      I have been researching him and would be interested to know more.
      Many thanks

      1. Matthew Willis

        Hi Tony, I knew him for his calligraphy, line drawings and more portable pieces…I don’t think I’ve seem any of his larger works, but happy to see if I can assist with your research and interested to hear anything you have discovered.

    2. Rupert Otten

      I was at Downside when Maurice was art teacher and he made a great impact. I was given his letters to the engraver Philip Hagreen 1890-1988 by his son Father John Hagreen which are beautifully written in his italic hand and have recently been to see Richard Shirley-Smith who has lent me the letters received from MP from 1953 to just before his death in 1981. Do you have any family papers that I might access for an article for The Raven (Downside journal) and the Harrow School equivalent ?

  3. Dr William Griffiths

    Maurice painted a fine mural of St Christopher for the small Catholic church in Chilcompton, Somerset, served by the monks of Downside Abbey. It showed St Christopher (bearing the infant Christ) wading through the stream which flows through Chilcompton close to the church. Also visible were the Somerset and Dorset railway line, with train, and, I think, a coal mine (now closed) and the tower of Downside. It may not have been painted actually on the wall. The church was small and humble, and I think it was painted on wood. The church has since been closed in a “rearrangement” of Downside parishes, and I think the work has been transferred to the one surviving local parish, St Benedict’s, Stratton-on-the-Fosse, probably hung in the church hall.

    1. Rupert Otten

      MP also painted some murals at Harrow school as recently confirmed to me by Jason Braham who took over as art teacher at Harrow some years after he left. Jason is still making pots at his medieval house in Powys.

    2. Tony

      Indeed, this was the particular mural i was interested in, (which i know have photos of) as he painted an almost identical mural on the wall of a remote west highlands bothy, which was frequented by his friend raef payne, and the author Gavin maxwell.
      Which came first is unknown.
      The bothy is in poor condition today, but im informed that the inside walls are dry and sound, and the mural is intact… Again i have photos.


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