Published: 15/03/2018
ISBN: 9781788037778
eISBN: 9781788034746
Format: Hardback/eBook

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Joseph Pike
The Happy Catholic Artist
by James Downs

First biography of the remarkable and hugely admired artist, Joseph Pike.

Author aided by artist’s family including his grandson, Hugh Salmon, (founder of, giving access to personal details and illustrations.

The first of its kind, Joseph Pike: The Happy Catholic Artist is a detailed biography of the popular artist of the same name. A master of the art of pencil drawing, Pike produced evocative sketches and illustrations that were commissioned by authors, architects and publishers, reproduced in books and on postcards, sold as prints and even exhibited on the walls of the Royal Academy. When he died in 1956, the Catholic Herald referred to him as ‘a distinguished artist’, though until this biography, little has been written about his life and work. Aided by the artist’s family, the book also contains rare personal details and illustrations not found elsewhere.

Joseph Pike reveals the man behind the art, following the artist’s life and career through the decades and exploring how both were shaped by historical circumstances - such as two world wars - and developments in the publishing world and printing technology. The book also explores his devout Catholic side and how his religious life and contacts with leading figures in Catholic cultural life such as Ronald Knox affected his career. The author is able to write about this subject with accuracy and vivid insights, drawing on a decade of personal experience of monastic life.

As the renowned journalist Raymond Sawkins (who published many books under the pen name Colin Forbes) said, Joseph Pike was ‘an artist of unusual merit... Pike has recorded with outstanding ability the architecture of all periods which exists in contemporary Britain.’ The biography will appeal to readers interested in art and history, as well as those with an interest in Catholic religion and culture.

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I would like to thank James Downs and troubador publishing for the advanced copy of this book. When I recieved it I quickly flicked thorough the pages and glanced at the illustrations and thought that Joseph Pikes style of pencil drawing was not for me. How wrong I was about this book!
When I recieved a prompt email to write a review I took another look. The first chapter of the Catholic Revival was an clear and balanced look at the persecution Roman Catholics a part of British history that is much overlooked. The rest of the book reads like an episode of 'Who do you think you are' and is just as engaging. Before I knew I was already half way through the book.

Josephs is a excellent draughtsman and his work was of it's time although still not to my taste Also included here are his thoughts published in 'The Artist' Hints on the art of the pencil. Here I agree with him whole heartedly. People give up too soon when learning to draw. Like learning an musical instrument it takes time and lots of practice.

I think I would have liked to talk about art and faith with Joseph Pike. A nice man.

by Cath P


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