Bernard Sleigh woodcut - The Horns of Elfland

Bernard Sleigh woodcut - The Horns of Elfland



The Horns of Elfland

Signed with monogram within the plate, signed, inscribed and dated in pencil l.r.: Doris Warden from Bernard Sleigh/Dec 31/35
Chiaroscuro woodcut

Image 22 by 39 cm., 8 ¾ by 15 ¼ in.
(frame size 35.5 by 50.5 cm., 14 by 20 in.

The splendour falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story;
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O hark, O hear, how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on field or hill or river:
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

Blow, Bugle, Blow

Sleigh was born in Kings Norton, south of Birmingham. When aged 14 his father died and he was obliged to leave school and become apprenticed to a wood engraver. At the sametime he attended the Birmingham School of Art under Arthur Gaskin, coming under the influence of the Birmingham Group. For a time he worked at an skillful illustrator for small presses and also taught engraving. His early paintings and watercolours were heavily influenced by Burne-Jones and his circle. In addition to his paintings, murals and illustrations he also involved in the decorative arts, designing stained glass, metal work and inlayed furniture. He joined the Society of Mural Decorators and Painters in Tempera and was a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists between 1923 and 1928. He worked from most of his life in Birmingham but travelled widely throughout Britain and Europe. In 1937 Sleigh following in the footsteps of his mentor Arthur Gaskin and retired to the Cotswold town of Chipping Camden, living at Old Forge Cottage in Cider Mill Lane.

At the age of 24 he suffered a brain aneurysm, resulting in a trepanning operation which he claims changed his outlook on life and led to his interest in mystical and fairy subjects. He as deeply affected by the horrors of World War I and took refuge in the world of his imagination. At this time he created his famous lithograph An Ancient Mappe of Fairyland, newly discovered and set forth. Sleigh published the current woodcut, The Horns of Elfland, c.1920. There is an impression of the print in the holdings of the British Museum and another in the Royal Collection.

Works by Sleigh are in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum.