Edward Bawden was a watercolorist, book illustrator, mural painter, and designer. He was inspired to design his first wallpaper after viewing the Daisy pattern by William Morris in an exhibition in 1925. Bawden’s preferred method of printing was the linoleum block at which he became quite adept. Harold Curwen, of the Curwen Press, saw some of Bawden’s early designs and wanted to transfer the pieces to his lithographic press so they could be reproduced and sold. The lithographic process was able to capture all the subtleties of the linoleum block process. The only drawback was that the designs could only be printed as a single repeat on small sheets of paper and were not available in rolls. Bawden designed fourteen wallpapers between 1926 and 1933 for the Curwen Press. These papers are now quite rare.
A number of Bawden’s wallpaper designs contain landscape views of parks or countryside, and most are based on a trellis or stripe format. Tree & Cow is an unusual check or trellis pattern containing pastoral scenes of trees and cows, respectively, in adjacent blocks. Printed in shades of green, black, red and brown the colors are complementary and create a nice energy. The lithographic reproduction of the linoleum block print creates a very soft, almost hand painted quality which comes across as very calming and relaxed. The lithograph process prints with oil colors using plates so by nature of their creation this early collection of wallpapers were water resistant and could be wiped clean. Keeping this in mind, two of the designs within this group, one containing mermaids and whales, the other with fish and water swells, were appropriate for washroom use.