The Rural Idyll

Edmund Blampied captured the spirit of the Jersey way of life and people, particularly in his rural scenes. He is probably the artist whose work has most influenced the idea of what Jersey is about. He produced many images of people at work – collecting vraic (seaweed) from the seashore or driving cows home in the rain. He depicted scenes of island life as many would like to remember it, often concentrating on images of country people at work.

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Edmund Blampied was born in Jersey in March 1886. In 1903 he enrolled as an art student at the Lambeth School of Art. Living in London he worked as an artist for The Daily Chronicle and later The Sphere, and also illustrated novels. In 1912 he took up etching, and in 1913 dry-point. With his wife Marianne, he returned to Jersey in 1916, enlisting in the Royal Jersey Militia and making sketches of his fellow soldiers. Returning to London, in 1920 he was elected associate member of the Royal Society of Painters-Etchers and Engravers, and later a fellow. By this time he was attracting the attention of the critics, and supplemented his income from etching and engraving by regular commissions as an illustrator. In 1926 the tenth book of the series Modern Masters of Etching was devoted to Blampied. The same year saw the publication of A Complete Catalogue of the Etchings and Drypoints of Edmund Blampied by Campbell Dodgson, Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum. It was also in this year that Edmund and Marianne set off for an extended period of travel, which took them to Tunisia, France and Belgium.

During the 1930s Blampied produced more of his comic drawings. Bottled Trout and Polo was a collection of drawings in which Blampied exposed the frailty and foolishness of men as seen through the eyes of animals and birds. In 1938 he illustrated J M Barrie’s book Peter Pan and Wendy. The Blampieds returned to Jersey in 1938, and set up their home on the Bulwarks at St Aubin. They decided to stay in Jersey during the Occupation, but moved away from the coast to St Brelade. When artists supplies ran out Blampied used household emulsion paint and wallpaper. In December 1941 he was asked to design Jersey currency notes in smaller denominations. Apart from the familiar Jersey scenes, two notes were particularly popular : the 1/- which depicted a local man and woman in old-fashioned Jersey headgear enjoying a joke, and the 6d which, if carefully folded, produced the V sign, deliberately exaggerated in the X of SiXpence. He continued to exhibit his work throughout the 50s and 60s. He died in August 1966.