‘The Saturday Book’ Cover by Richard Chopping

Of Richard Chopping’s many beautiful illustrations, paintings and book jackets, none stand out more as his work for the 1955 volume 15 edition of the yearly The Saturday Book. These books of miscellany – published from 1941 to 1975, reaching 34 volumes – provided literary and artistic commentary about life in Britain during the Second World War…

Richard Chopping's 'The Redcurrant Kiss'

Richard Chopping’s ‘The Redcurrant Kiss’

Sold at Christies in 2011 for 500 pounds ($799), this is a beautiful example of Chopping’s Trompe l’oeil style. Not much is known about this painting unfortunately, but perhaps more information will come to light. Several Chopping motifs are present however, including the wood background and the natural world. Botanists out there might be able…

Blessed by Fleming, Adorned by Chopping – ‘The Fourth of June’ by David Benedictus

The Fourth of June is the first novel by David Benedictus. This title was reviewed upon publication by Ian Fleming, who was an Old Etonian with David. In Fleming’s Sunday Times review he described it as ‘One of the most brilliantly written books since the war.‘ Fleming’s review of the book was complimentary of the writer but admittedly seemed out of…

Richard Chopping

Richard Chopping’s Great Unfinished Work

Richard Chopping was educated at Gresham’s in Holt, where Benjamin Britten and the future Cambridge spy Donald Maclean were his contemporaries. His artistic education came afterwards, at Cedric Morris’s East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, where Lucian Freud was also studying. Chopping was more factotum than pupil but learnt by observing Morris work, although…

Richard Chopping and Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon provides an interesting footnote into how Richard Chopping ended up creating the James Bond dust jackets for Ian Fleming; it was at one of Bacon’s art exhibitions that Ann Fleming, a close friend of Bacon, made the introduction. Chopping recalled: “He [Bacon] took her [Ann Fleming]  upstairs to see mine, which was very good of him,…

Richard Chopping

‘To a Dragon Fly’ by Richard Chopping

Here is a poem that Chopping contributed to the Grasshopper in 1931: O DRAGON-FLY, you lovely thing, I love to see you on the wing; Oh, when I hear you whirring by, I raise an aching, weary eye From off my tiring, awful task, To gaze upon your lovely mask, Your slender legs, your rainbow…

Richard Chopping’s ‘Butterflies of Britain’

Chopping’s love of nature was evident in Butterflies in Britain (1943) and his Butterflies book was a best seller, in print for many years. Best known for his jackets for Ian Fleming’s James Bond books he also illustrated a number of children’s books for Noel Carrington. Typically concise was his description of the Painted Lady, which:…

Flower Motifs in Literary James Bond

Ian Fleming had a lifelong fascination with flowers and this motif would permeate many of his books and corresponding artwork for years to come. His first and only poetry collection, privately printed in 1928, was titled The Black Daffodil (unfortunately no copies exist today). His good friend Ivar Bryce remarked on reading The Black Daffodil: “He read me…

The Fly by Richard Chopping

‘The Fly’ by Richard Chopping

After Ian Fleming‘s death in 1964, Richard Chopping published – on Angus Wilson’s recommendation – The Fly. This flits between an office’s variously embroiled staff, including widowed caretaker Mrs Macklin, “a woman of warthog sensibility” whose feckless elder children consider, at the outset, inflating an abandoned condom near a pixie-hatted sibling. “Tears squeeze out of…