Born in 1901, C. F. Tunnicliffe’s earliest art was inspired by the Cheshire farm he was raised on. His drawings of the animals and other wildlife that formed his childhood environment went on to get him a scholarship to attend Macclesfield School of Art and Design, and later, acceptance into London’s Royal College of Art. Although he did move to London for his education, he was initially hesitant to do so over fears of the city being so far removed from the countryside that he loved. His deep appreciation for the natural world moved him back to Macclesfield in 1928 where he made a career illustrating books of natural themes. His illustrations were met with great enthusiasm and he was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1954, where he exhibited and sold artworks often.
Tunnicliffe’s animals were noted for their high levels of accuracy, enabled by the artist’s close collaboration with naturalists and zoologists and the access they would give him to natural history collections at museums. The way that Tunnicliffe depicted these animals within their natural environment, however, means that his artwork lacks the usual stiffness of other scientific drawings. So, while the scientific accuracy of his artwork means that they have relevance to modern wildlife studies, they are also aesthetically important and stand as pieces of art in their own right.
Tunnicliffe settled on Anglesey in his later life, where he died in 1979. He is considered a leading figure in twentieth century wildlife art, and in 1981, the contents of his studio were put up for auction and purchased by Anglesey Council, bringing previously unseen works into the public eye. At Wilson55, our in-house expert Stephen Sparrow has years of experience in assessing and valuing C. F. Tunnicliffe’s etchings and paintings, so do get in touch if you’d like to learn more about a piece you own, or discuss a potential sale or valuation.
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