Maurice Sumray. 1920 – 2004 researched by Angela Ball

The Entertainer’ by Maurice Sumray 1990
“The Entertainer” 1990 Etching 19.5 x 14.5 Cornwall Council Schools Art Collection

Maurice Sumray was both a painter and a pencil draughtsman.   He studied engraving from 1935 – 1940, and from the age of 16 his work was shown at the Whitechapel Gallery in London.

During the War years (1940 -46) he served with the Ministry of Economic Warfare.

He was a member of the Hogarth Group of Painters from 1942 – 1946.

From 1946 – 1949, after the war, together with his twin brother Harman, also an artist, he set up SUNRAY TEXTILES,   then both gained scholarships to the Goldsmith’s College  School of Art. In 1950 Wyndham Lewis, a prominent critic of the time praised one of his exhibited paintings, titled “Lovers “, calling him one of the best artists in England.

Clown sumray
Maurice Sumray, ‘Clown’, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 inches

But Maurice Sumray was a slow and very self-critical artist, and in 1953 he gave up painting altogether.  He destroyed all the artwork in his possession, and from 1953 – 1968 turned to engraving as a medium, establishing a studio and developing the FLEXOGRAPHIC process. (A flexible printing plate usually wrapped round a rotating cylinder enabling the artist to print on a variety of materials and now used widely in graphic art.)

1n 1968 he moved with his wife and family to St Ives.  Once there he returned to painting, still working slowly with a very thin brush.    Many of his figure studies featured clowns, and jugglers, and were meticulously designed in the manner of early Italian paintings.

He was elected a member of the Penwith Society of Arts in 1980, and the Newlyn society of Painters in 1981, with his paintings being regularly exhibited.  Retrospective exhibitions in 1984 and 1997 brought great acclaim.

Some of his work is held by the British Museum.


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