John Petts and the Caseg Press: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

John Petts and the Caseg Press

1st Edition

By Alison Smith


128 pages

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Hardback: 9781138735781
pub: 2017-09-26
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315186337
pub: 2017-10-03
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This title was first published in 2000: John Petts (1914-1991) is one of the outstanding wood-engravers of the twentieth century. His stunning prints featuring Welsh mountains and the people who live amongst them reflect his deep concern for the history of the land and are distinguished by his profound understanding of the physical and psychological properties of light. Extensively illustrated, John Petts and the Caseg Press spans the entire career of this reclusive artist and offers the first account of the private press he founded in Snowdonia in 1937. In 1935, John Petts and Brenda Chamberlain abandoned their studentships at the Royal Academy Schools, London for a rundown farmhouse in the rugged terrain of Snowdonia. They started the Caseg Press in 1937 in the hope that it might finance their freedom to work. At first dedicated to saleable ephemera such as Christmas cards and bookplates, the press later became involved in the broader Welsh cultural scene, providing illustrations for the Welsh Review, a monthly literary periodical. In 1941, with the writer Alun Lewis, the Caseg press produced a series of broadsheets designed to express continuity and identification with the life of rural Wales in the face of social change precipitated by the second world war. John Petts and the Caseg Press is the first monograph on this artist. It covers both his work for the Caseg Press and for other publishers such as the Golden Cockerel Press. The volume offers a unique insight into an important chapter in the history of private presses in Britain and the development of neo-romanticism in art and literature during the inter-war period.


’… beautifully produced and illustrated it is a welcome and gracious addition to the growing literature on the subject of this most democratic of art forms. … Interesting and illuminating book.’ - Multiples, Newsletter of the Society of Wood Engravers

'… a well researched book… Alison Smith is owed a debt of gratitude for reviving his memory.’ - Matrix

'…well illustrated…very valuable and immensely enjoyable.’ - Planet

'… a highly readable and compelling account. All in all this is an excellent book, thoroughly and unreservedly recommended.' - Parenthesis

'… Smith has opened up a fascinating area of investigation.' - William Morris Society Journal

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Welsh horizons; The Caseg Press at Llanllechid 1937-1942; Alun Lewis and the Caseg Broadsheets 1941-1942; A Paradise lost 1943-1946; The Caseg Press at Llanystumdwy 1947-1951; New directions; Postscript; List of prints, cards and publications; Bibliography; Index.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General