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The Collation

Timon of Athens: nine not-actually-lost drawings by Wyndham Lewis

In 1998, modernist art and literature scholar Paul Edwards wrote about “a set of watercolours and (apparently) ink drawings on the theme of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens” by Wyndham Lewis that had been published as a portfolio in 1913. 1 Why only “apparently” in ink? Until Professor Edwards came across the nine drawings in the Folger’s digital image collection, art historians thought the drawings had been lost. Now he knows that they are definitely ink, and definitely not lost—they’ve simply been kept since the 1920s in a collection where no one thought to look for Vorticist art.

The drawing of a dancing figure, in pen-and-ink with reddish brown wash, is particularly special. Unlike the rest of the set, it was not published in the portfolio (or on the portfolio: two of the designs are printed on the folder itself), so until Professor Edwards found it in the Folger’s online image collection, it wasn’t known to scholars.

Semi-abstract dancing figure

Unpublished drawing by Wyndham Lewis for Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens

  1. Paul Edwards, “Wyndham Lewis’s ‘Timon of Athens’ portfolio: The emergence of Vorticist abstraction,” Apollo 148, no. 440 (October 1998): 34-40.
  2. Edwards, “Wyndham Lewis’s ‘Timon of Athens’ portfolio,” pp. 38-39.