Creating a Catalogue Raisonné & Website for Richard Eurich RA NEAC OBE

Philippa Bambach (Richard's daughter) describes the process of creating a catalogue raisonné & website to record and showcase her father's lifetime's work, as well as the stories of (re)discovery that she encountered on the way . . .


"Following the publication of ‘The Art of Richard Eurich’ by Andrew Lambirth in 2020, the family put renewed effort into the ongoing task of creating a catalogue raisonné for Richard, and developing a new website to host it.


One of our first tasks was to photograph more pictures, a job already begun in the run-up to the production of Andrew’s monograph. Because hundreds of Richard’s paintings are in private ownership, it was a lot of work tracing them.


We discovered that he kept a sales diary for many years and amazingly some owners were still traced to their original addresses and telephone numbers.


By dint of dogged research, we tracked down many collectors whose pictures needed better quality photographs, or the images were completely new to us. There are still hundreds hidden in private collections, emerging only when the owners die and the family auction the pictures off!


We packed the car with tripod, lighting and camera and visited dozens of collectors around the country.


On our travels the sight of his paintings, whether new to me or familiar, invariably gave me a shock of recognition as I entered the room. A wonderful sensation. The owners were so friendly and warm, delighted to share their pleasure.


One nice story was the discovery of the painting of Richmond in Yorkshire (not to be confused with the same name in west London) commissioned by the GPO to advertise the use of the new postcode system. The original painting was requested as a retiring present by a worker, and readily granted. His son still has the picture and loves it.


'Richmond, Yorkshire' (1958), Oil on canvas, 61 x 51 cm, Private Collection, UK, Photo by Paul Carter, © Richard Eurich Paintings


One couple was advised to buy a Eurich picture as an investment, but loved it so much they bought another, and another. They loved the narrative images of the 1950s but have begun to appreciate the stranger ‘figures on beach’ theme.


When I was a child, I remember a large dramatic painting called ‘Flood Water’ which hung in our little dining room. I used to be told off for tipping my chair back and knocking into the canvas. It was wonderful to see this familiar picture again in a lovely house looking comfortably at home.


A large and complex image of docks called ‘Departure’ which took our breath away was hanging in a tiny kitchen taking up a whole wall … just amazing!


'Departure' (1959), Oil on canvas, 78.7 x 121.9 cm, Private Collection, UK, Photo by Paul Carter, © Richard Eurich Paintings


A critic who was researching Richard’s work for us found a 1969 painting called ‘Beach with Bathers’. It was in Tate Britain’s storage room and had somehow missed being photographed for ArtUK so we had no idea that it was there. It is a stunning work, strangely complex and yet simple, a product of his unique imagination.


Yet another discovery was a classic painting from 1935, ‘Dry Dock, Southampton’. It was the first picture Richard exhibited in the RA (1937 Summer Exhibition), and is now right in the middle of the City of London.


'Dry Dock, Southampton' (1935), oil on canvas, 61.5 x 75 cm, Collection: Barings PLC, UK, Photo by Paul Carter, © Richard Eurich Paintings

We viewed the David Bowie collection sale at Sotheby’s and found two small Eurichs there. One, an atmospheric little picture of a schooner painted for a Pictures for Children exhibition and the other a completely different kind of image of a distant grey northern town.


The gallery owner and collector Angela Flowers often declared that the Richard Eurich painting given her by her father was the one picture she would never part with. It’s ‘The Rainbow’, another painting for children.


'The Rainbow' (1937), Oil on board, Private Collection, UK, Photo: Antonio Parente  


There was a naivety at the heart of Richard’s character which found expression in these images. They were often voted children’s favourites at special exhibitions mounted in the late 1940s and 1950s by the Society for Education through Art.

They sold works of art to schools where many of Richard’s pictures were hung. Of these we now only know a handful, as unsurprisingly many have disappeared, but we hope they are loved in their new homes!


One teacher, however, alerted us to the fact that there was a Eurich painting stuffed in a broom cupboard at her school with a hole in the canvas. The county archive restored it and we managed to photograph it. It is a strange picture of a Yorkshire long sword dance by the sea with a curious clown figure dancing alongside.


'Dancing Men' (1948), Oil on canvas, 40.5 x 51 cm, Collection: Leicestershire County Council Artworks Collection, County Hall, Leicester, Photo by Paul Carter, © Richard Eurich Paintings


Richard kept records of his paintings in albums covering many years going back as far as the 1920s but getting more sporadic in the 1980s (the most prolific decade of his life!)


One interesting story we came across was on seeing his photos of four War pictures commissioned by the Admiralty which were lost at sea. They, and many other works of art were on their way to Brazil when the ship was torpedoed. (Brazil was the only South American country to send troops to fight alongside the Allies in Europe.)


He kept newspaper cuttings (not all of which we have fully investigated) and there is a big job ahead photographing all his sketchbooks. These often reveal recognisable ideas for future paintings in them.


'Waterspout on the Solent' (1954), oil on canvas, 51 x 61 cm, Collection: Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford, Photo by Paul Carter, © Bradford District Museums and Galleries / Richard Eurich Paintings


This ‘field work’ is only a small part of the task of designing and putting together the online catalogue raisonné.


We planned to combine new research with an earlier catalogue put together by Christine Clearkin MA. She spent years tracking down around 1,500 titles through websites, libraries and catalogues.


Also, an existing Eurich website, made several years before, desperately needed updating. Thus began a multi-year project to devise a ‘platform’ that could store the data from Christine’s interim catalogue raisonné and easily add new and ongoing research.


The idea was to create something a little different from other online catalogue raisonnés. We wanted to present the information in a friendly but authoritative way and to provide many avenues to explore Richard’s work. The search engine and the site itself needed to be fast to encourage exploration. We thought this platform might be used by other galleries and artists too.



Catalogue raisonnés are riddled with uncertainties – around dates of works, exhibitions and auctions for example. How to display these uncertainties in a very structured database was a challenge. We called the solution ‘Fuzzy Dates’.


A database is simply a repository of information. To make it come alive we searched out connections between works and across every part of the site using links and themes.


For example, links to and from Richard’s memoir of his early years are particularly fascinating. This cross-referencing allows us to use existing data in new ways. For example, we have started a new section where we ask someone to explore the database to ‘curate’ an online exhibition of Eurichs. This brings someone else’s imagination into play.


The online catalogue is wonderfully versatile and flexible but there is still much more to do. Almost every entry could be refined. There are many named paintings for which we have no image. We keep finding pictures which we have never heard of. Information is updated after each auction sale or when a collector lets us know they have a Eurich picture.


We have a friendly relationship with our local City of Southampton Art Gallery. We have photographed its collection of Eurichs. Bradford City Art Gallery (Richard’s original hometown) has also been very generous, helping us for a whole day photographing their Eurich pictures – a real privilege.


We desperately needed a new image of ‘Men of Straw’ for the 2020 book. It belonged to Nottingham City Art Gallery which was closed for renovation, but they kindly allowed us to visit the storage facility and photograph that and their other Eurich picture.


'Men of Straw' (1957), Oil on panel, 50.8 x 101.6 cm, Collection: Nottingham Castle, Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Photo by Paul Carter, © Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery / Richard Eurich Paintings


A few years ago a curator at the Greenwich National Maritime Museum gave family members a special guided tour of their 14 Eurichs on a Saturday morning, including permission to enter the restoration room where they were working on a 1937 Eurich picture, ‘The Grainship, Falmouth’.


We are very grateful to these galleries for their generosity towards us as it costs them a lot of time and money to dance attendance on us.


Auction houses have played a huge role as well in helping to clarify provenance, dates, and also forwarding my letters to new owners. This all helps the Eurich name to gradually become more prominent. It is gratifying to receive messages from them having consulted the catalogue, and often giving us back more information.

So much warmth and generosity shown us when researching Richard’s output gives us renewed energy and inspiration to keep going!"


Links and Further Reading

October 1, 2023