Obituary: Lettice Sandford

Lettice Mackintosh Rate, artist and engraver: born 1902; married 1929 Christopher Sandford (died 1983; one son, two daughters); died 3 December 1993.

ADMIRED by collectors for the engravings and drawings which she made in the Thirties and Forties, Lettice Sandford will be remembered too by the many whom, more recently, she taught to make corn-dollies.

As a girl Lettice Rate studied at the Byam Shaw and Vicat Cole School of Art, and later, with an interest in book illustration, at the Art Section of the Chelsea Polytechnic. Here she worked under Percy Jowett, who had earlier taught her at her boarding school in north London. She was taught to engrave on wood by Robert Day, and etching by Graham Sutherland. On a skiing holiday in Switzerland she met the printer Christopher Sandford, and they were married in 1929. Together they ran the Boar's Head Press, whose books were printed at the Chiswick Press, of which Christopher was a director. Her engravings for their first two books, published in 1931 and 1932, were plainly early work, engaging things, but somewhat amateur in style. Then she saw a copy of Blair Hughes-Stanton's Comus with its fine white lines engraved into solid black backgrounds, and for the next couple of years his style was all-important to her: the engravings for Sappho (1932) are among her finest.

In 1933 Christopher Sandford bought the Golden Cockerel Press from Robert Gibbings, and, though he transferred the printing to the Chiswick Press, was able to maintain the very high standards of book production that Gibbings had achieved working at home in Waltham St Lawrence. The finest of engravers continued to work for him - Gibbings himself, Eric Gill, Hughes-Stanton, Eric Ravilious, John Buckland Wright, almost everyone of consequence - to produce a series of finely printed illustrated books that are now too often outside the range of ordinary collectors. Lettice was able to take her place in this galaxy, and, apart from various smaller books, to cut fine line-engravings on wood for The Golden Bed of Kydno (1935 - printed in reverse by collotype, so that they seemed to have been cut in copper), 19 copper engravings for The Song of Songs (1936) and 20 in zinc for The Golden Cockerel Greek Anthology (1937).

These marked the high-point of her career as illustrator. She was influenced now by Matisse, with simply cut lines, though with the same sensuous approach to the female form as those she had cut for the Boar's Head.

She produced two children's books, Roo-ooo and Panessa (1938) and Coo my Doo (1943), her pen and colour-wash drawings printed by lithography. After the Second World War she illustrated four books with pen drawings for the Folio Society, the last in 1953. In all her work appeared in some two dozen volumes.

The Golden Cockerel Press was sold to Thomas Yoseloff in 1959, and the Sandfords turned to a country life, displaying at Eye Manor, their house near Leominster, the books they had published, with a small museum and a collection of corn-dollies. Lettice wrote pamphlets on how to make these, and gave lessons to an increasing number of enthusiasts, even going out to the United States for the purpose. Latterly she returned to her work as an artist, in water-colour.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee