Sir Grayson Perry - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, January 18, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Executed in a mock-Tudor style, Grayson Perry’s psychogeographical Map of an Englishman is an intricate illustration of an imaginary island. This is Perry’s first print, and the beginning of a series of cartographic etchings that he used to both examine his inner psyche and apply his critiquing eye to the world around him. After seeing his friend Emma Kay’s large drawing World Map from Memory  (1999), Perry was inspired to create his own sprawling, fictional topography, illustrating two halves of the brain, suspended in chaotic chevrons of grey matter. 


    Perry took influence from The Map of Tenderness, published in 1678 as the frontispiece to Madeleine de Scudéry’s novel, Clelia, An Excellent New Romance. Scudéry gave the water and villages of her map names like indifference, indiscretion, negligence and mischief, thereby anthropomorphising the drawing to suit her narrative. Perry similarly applies his caustic wit, and disarming honesty to the states of mind of his fellow countrymen, replacing towns and geographical features with an indexing of their phobias, desires, and deviant practices.


    Carte du Tendre (The Map of Tenderness). Image: akg-images

    The murky seas of psychological flaws surround Perry’s isle, identified as Schizophrenia, Psychopath, Agoraphobia, and Delirium, whilst counties bear titles such as Love, Anger, Tender, Narcissism, Dreams, Cliche and so on. Normal and Easy are small areas, but Fear is a large, foreboding forest. Hills, houses and castles (but mainly churches) are peppered throughout the countryside, each named for a character trait expressing prejudices, fears, vanities and other attributes of the artist. By incorporating humour and irony in his critique of both himself and of cultural norms, Perry creates a map that is both a universal commentary and a specific representation of identity. “A lot of people think it’s generally like an Englishman,” but as Perry explains, “it is an Englishman. It is me.” 


    Grayson Perry, Map of an Englishman, 2004 (detail of lot 60)

    Abandoning the traditional Englishman’s ‘stiff upper lip’, Perry’s map unspools a stream-of-consciousness flooded with word associations and messy emotional responses. However, there is method to his madness, and he retains a certain topographical truthfulness, thematically grouping his neighbourhoods. The Posh peninsula encompasses the villages of Svelte, Classic FM, Chardonnay, School Run and Yoga (just down the road from Bulemic), whilst the adjacent territory of Bloke, houses the church of Car Accessories and the towns of Bufoon, Innit, Diamond Geezer, and Shed. Through his parallel wordplays, Perry simultaneously records, critiques, and dismantles traditionally associated social practices and assumptions.


    Perry drew his map directly onto sheets of acetate sent to him by the printer Hugh Stoneman, who proposed the etching technique of dust-grain gravure. One side of the acetate was smooth, servicing the need for fine detail, the other side was roughened and used for shading. The four acetate sheets that comprised the total composition were then transferred onto four printing plates that were abutted to print onto one large sheet of paper. Each plate mimics a slide of bio-matter under a microscope, revealing Perry’s exquisite detail, with the thin lines between each quadrant echoing the creases of a long-folded, antique map. Ancient typography and topography are combined with contemporary critique to chart a new process of observing and recording.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection, Europe (acquired directly from the publisher)

    • Literature

      The Paragon Press 2001-2006 pp. 184-185


Map of an Englishman

Etching from four plates, printed on one sheet of Rives paper, with full margins.
I. 110.8 x 149.2 cm (43 5/8 x 58 3/4 in.)
S. 111.8 x 150.3 cm (44 x 59 1/8 in.)

Signed, dated and numbered 13/50 in pencil on the reverse (there were also 10 artist's proofs), published by The Paragon Press, London, framed.

Full Cataloguing

£70,000 - 90,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £119,700

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 18 - 19 January 2023