Mildred Eldridge RWS (1909-1991)

These works come from a small collection of nature studies we have for sale by Mildred Eldridge, 1909-1991. A talented and successful artist, and graduate of the Royal College of Art, Eldridge is best known as a painter of birds, birds' eggs, and flowers – resurrecting the art of fine detail in natural history subjects. She was also a major influence on the development of the poetry of her husband R.S. Thomas, one of the 20th century’s most successful writers.

After an RCA travelling scholarship to Italy in the early 1930s, Eldridge returned to London and quickly made an impression on the city’s art scene, with a solo show at the Beaux Arts Gallery in 1937. But it was in Wales, where she met and fell in love with the young curate R S Thomas, that her artistic career was forged. Eldridge developed a passion for natural history illustration, collecting large numbers of animal and bird specimens, which she would minutely categorise and draw. She nevertheless also had an interest in abstraction, and the drawings in our collection show a strong design aesthetic; Eldridge’s tutors at the RCA included Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden, and amongst other things she designed altar cloths, stained glass windows, wrought-iron chandeliers and four gardens.

Eldridge is credited with being a major influence on the poetry of her husband R.S. Thomas, his closely observed writing about nature showing parallels with Eldridge's paintings. She illustrated the dust cover of her husband’s first volume of poems, Stones of the Field, in 1947. He poignantly described her: 'she,/ who in life/ had done everything/ with a bird's grace' .