Arthur Eric Rowton Gill is, was, and remains a controversial figure that still inspires much debate in the art world. As a sculptor, printmaker and artist his work is considered some of the finest of the Nouveau-Classicalism that rose with the Arts and Crafts movement. His relief sculptures such as The North Wind or Ariel Between Wisdom and Gaiety, are still considered wonderful expositions of form, seriousness and sensuousness. However, underneath this finery lay a much darker side to the man.
Thanks to the detective and investigative work of late biographerís in the 1980ís, it was unearthed that Eric Gill was a deeply torn, and disturbed man. His obvious religious commitment, catholic fervor and gentle depictions of Mother Mary and Child hid an obsessive guilt with sensuality, intimacy, and sexuality. His personal diaries revealed a man who fetishized sex as an act as a part of his faulty moral compass. To the shock of many, it was also revealed that Eric Gill had many extra-marital affairs and abusive relationships Ė including abuse performed against his own children. How is any to reconcile these two sides of this obviously conflicted, and damaged man?
On one side, the story of Eric Gill is concerned with finery, with exactness, control and elegance. His work as a typeface designer admittedly defined the pre-War age (Eric Gill designed Perpetua, Joanna and the Gill Sans fonts as well as designing the typeface for the London Underground). It is to this work as a designer and illustrator that the collector has to admire. His work has been chosen to accompany some of the finest productions of classical texts, from James Joyceís Ulysses to Shakespeare and Chaucer. Thanks to his very fine illustrative style, and the benefit of him being a typeface designer, Gill has been admired and used by many Fine Print publishers during his life for their select works.
For the dedicated collector, then, no finer work of Gillís could be sought then perhaps his work with the Golden Cockerel Press; and currently there can be found a selection of limited edition framed prints of Gillís illustrations to accompany the characters in the Canterbury Tales (1928). A signed, very fine condition of one of these prints could be worth as much as $1000.
For the collector who may want to reflect on history and the controversy of the man, then they should look towards Eric Gillís seminal work 25 Nudes (Hague & Gill, London, 1938) which is a selection of twenty-five studies that showcase Gillís elegant and sensuous style Ė evident in his sketches of the artistsí models and obviously expressed in his sculpting work. Given what we also know about Gillís personal life; the significance of this obsession is undeniable. A signed Presentation of Limited edition copy of 25 Nudes would be worth as much as $1500.
Douglas, Pepler. The Devils Devices or Control versus Service. Hampshire House Workshops, Hammersmith (1915). 12 illustrations by Eric Gill; 1500 copies, 1200 unsigned.
Douglas, Pepler. God And The Dragon. Douglas Pepler, Ditchling (1917). 3 text illustrations from engravings by Eric Gill; rhymes by H.D.C.P
Gill, Eric. Sculpture. Douglas Pepler,Ditchling (1918). An Essay By Eric Gill; Reprinted from The Highway June A.D. 1917; 400 copies; Single wood engraving by Eric Gill.
Douglas, Pepler. Nisi Dominus. S. Dominics Press, Ditchling (1919). Hand-printed in a very small quantity; Rimes by Hilary Pepler (H.D.C.P) and 17 engravings by Eric Gill (E.P.J.G), three by Desmond Chute (D.B.M.C) and two by Ralph Beedham.
Gill, Eric. Songs without Clothes. Ditchling St. Dominics Press (1921). Being a Dissertation on the Song of Solomon and Such-like Songs; Together with a Preface by Fr. Vincent McNabb; 240 copies.
Cornford, Frances. Autumn Midnight. The Poetry Bookshop, London (1923). Wood engravings by Eric Gill
Hilary, Pepler. In Petra. S. Dominics Press, Ditchling Press, Sussex (1923). Being a sequel to Nisi Dominus, together with a preface and notes; title-page wood-engraved vignette printed in red plus 8 wood-engravings in text (including capitals) of which six are by Gill and three by David Jones
GILL, Eric. Sculpture. Douglas Pepler, Ditchling (1923). An Essay on Stone-cutting, with a preface about God; Reprinting two essays, the Preface from an issue of The Game and Stone Carving, which first appeared as Sculpture in 1918; 3 wood engravings by Eric Gill.
Maritain, Jacques. The Philosophy Of Art. Douglas Pepler, Ditchling (1923). With an introduction and title and colophon woodcuts by Eric Gill; 400 copies.
Gill, Eric. Sculpture. Sussex Saint Dominics Press, Ditchling (1925). An Essay on Stone-cutting, with a Preface about God.
Gill, Eric. Christianity and Art. Francis Walterson, Capel-Y-Ffin, Abergavenny (1927). Engraved woodcut frontispiece by David Jones and a small tail piece; 200 numbered copies.
Gill, Eric. Art and Prudence. The Golden Cockerel Press, London (1928). 500 numbered copies; Includes two full-page copper plate engravings by Gill.
Gill, Eric. Art-Nonsense and Other Essays. Cassell and Co., London (1929). The first use of Perpetua Type designed by Gill; 100 copies.
Gill, Eric. Clothing Without Cloth. The Golden Cockerel Press, Waltham Saint Lawrence Berkshire (1931). An Essay on the Nude; 500 copies; essay by Eric Gill on art and nature illustrated with four full-page wood engravings by Eric Gill
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Limited Editions Club, High Wycombe (1933). designed and illustrated by Gill, printed from the Joanna types on Barcham Green paper, by Hague and Gill, High Wycombe; 1500 copies.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The Limited Editions Club, High Wycombe (1933). An introduction by Gilbert Murray; Title page, 5 illustrations and 20 initial letters engraved by Eric Gill; original full pigskin by George McKibbin and son; 1500 copies.
Clay, Enid. The Constant Mistress. Golden Cockerel Press, London (1934). Illustrated with 6 engravings by Eric Gill; 300 Copies.
Gill, Eric. The Lords Song. Golden Cockerel Press, London (1934). A Sermon; 500 copies; With full-page woodcut, title vignette and 4-line decorated initial by Gill.
Gill, Eric. The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Faber and Faber, London (1934). ACCORDING TO THE FOUR EVANGELISTS WITH FIVE ENGRAVINGS BY ERIC GILL; Printed by Hague and Gill, High Wycombe; 300 copies; A fine printing of the Passion from Sts Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in bilingual text (Latin facing English text)
Sterne, Laurence. A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy. Limited Edition Club, New York (1936). Printed By Hand on Hand-Made Paper, the Type Being a New Face Designed Especially By Mr. Gill for This book, and Signed By D. Tegetmeier and Eric Gill; Binding is of Full Winterbottom Buckram, Stamped with a Design By Eric. Gill in Gold, Blue and Red.
Gill, Eric. Quia Amore Langueo. Faber and Faber, London (1937). Edited by H. S. Bennett with 4 engravings by Eric Gill; 400 copies.
Besterman, Theodore. THE TRAVELS AND SUFFERINGS OF JEAN DE BREBEUF. Golden Cockerel, London (1938). among the Hurons of Canada as described by Himself; Illustrated with a double-page wood engraved title by Eric Gill; 300 copies; translated from the French and Latin by Theodore Besterman.
Gill, Eric. 25 Nudes. J.M. Dent and Sons, London (1951). Illustrated with twenty-five engravings.
Gill, Eric. First Nudes. Neville Spearman, London (1954). With an Introduction by John Rothenstein; Special edition of 100 copies signed by Gordian Gill and John Rothenstein.
Gill, Eric. The Engravings of Eric Gill. Christopher Skelton, Wellingborough (1983). 1350 copies; introduction by Douglas Cleverdon; profusely illustrated with over 1000 wood engravings.
Gill, Eric. A Book of Alphabets for Douglas Cleverdon. Christopher Skelton, Wellingborough (1987). 550 copies; first 50 were specially bound by Clare Skelton and signed by Douglas Cleverdon.
Gill, Eric. The Four Gospels. Folio Society, London (2007). 2750 copies; Blocked in 24-carat gold with a design featuring Eric Gillís engravings around a blind-blocked frame.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. THE CANTERBURY TALES. Folio Society, London (2010). GOLDEN COCKEREL PRESS FACSIMILE; 1980 copies; 29 half-page illustrations, and 61 initial letters by Eric Gill