Percy Delf Smith, Sixteen Drypoints and Etchings


Percy Smith’s prints are very rare, and now highly regarded as some of the most powerful images to come from the First World War


Percy Delf Smith, Sixteen Drypoints and Etchings. A Record of the Great War.

This is a remarkable and rare limited edition book.

Percy Delf Smith (1882 – 1948) was an artist, calligrapher and printmaker who produced some of the most powerful images of the horror of the 1914-1918 war. He served in the Royal Marines Artillery in WWI. During this time, particularly at the Battle of Thiepval in Northern France, now considered a massacre, he was so compelled by what he saw that he sketched discretely, brought the sketches home and produced his famous set of prints ‘The Dance of Death’.

There have been many war artists from the First World War who have depicted the destruction, death and atrocities of that war but Percy Smith’s images go beyond a mere record. They show the Grim Reaper following the men to war, they show Death playing with his victims and taunt them as they call for help and die. Maybe his most famous image is the print ‘Death Awed’, where even Death is shocked by what it sees.

The drypoints and etchings in this book have two of the prints from ‘The Dance of Death’. These are ‘Death Marches’ and ‘Death Awed’. The other prints are not from the Dance of Death. They show the destruction of Thiepval, where nothing is left but a mound of earth, and also the lives of the soldiers.

This book is a limited edition. It is one of the twenty copies that were for sale, numbered I to XXII. This is copy number XVI. It did contain as a frontispiece with an original signed Drypoint but this print was not with this book when we acquired it.

The images were printed as Collotypes at the Curwen Press, London. Beautifully printed on hand-made paper. Published by The Soncino Press, London 1930 with a Foreword by Sir William Rothenstein and a fascinating  introduction by the anti-war writer H. M. Tomlinson.

Printed on hand-made paper, the pages are in excellent condition with a flysheet covering each image. Size: 32 x 25cm. Hardback with cloth cover. Gold foil motif on cover and lettering on spine. The spine has faded and there are slight marks on the cover.

Please get in touch if you would like a further description or would like to see more images.

Read the British Museum page about Percy Delf Smith.

Read more about his prints.

See the Dance of Death series.

See more of our illustrated books.

See more of our fine art prints.


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