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Douglas Percy Bliss RBA SWE (1900-1984)

Douglas Percy Bliss, RBA SWE (1900-1984)

Douglas Percy Bliss was, with Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious, one of an inseparable triumvirate of students of the Royal College of Art who contributed so much to the visual culture of twentieth-century Britain. Bliss first rose to prominence as both a practitioner and historian of wood-engraving, and employed the medium to produce many striking illustrations. Increasingly, however, he worked as a painter, in oil and watercolour, producing both landscapes of an almost Pre-Raphaelite intensity and satirical images of artists in their studios. Already a teacher and critic of some note, he became Director of Glasgow School of Art in 1946, and did much to raise its status, while promoting and protecting the architecture of that city.

Douglas Percy Bliss was born in Karachi, then within British India, on 28 January 1900, the son of the pharmacist, Joseph Bliss, and his wife, Isabel Douglas (née Percy). His paternal grandfather had moved from Northamptonshire to Morayshire, in Scotland, and that is where his father was born, so Bliss always considered himself to be Scottish.

Bliss was brought up in Edinburgh, and was educated at George Watson’s College (1908-18).

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