Percy Shakespeare (1906 - 1943)

The Rasp Grinders, 1930

SKU: 8706
Oil on canvas.

Height – 109.5cm
Width – 168cm


Vaughan’s, 1930-1990; Dudley Art Gallery, 1990-2016 (long term loan)
Percy Shakespeare, Dudley Museum and Art Gallery, August 1999; Dudley Art Gallery, 1990-2016 (long term loan); ‘For Real: British Realists from the 20s and 30s’, Museum MORE, Gorssel, September 15th, 2019‚ January 5th, 2020.
Robin Shaw, Percy Shakespeare: Dudley’s Painter of the Thirties, published by Robin Shaw (ISBN 0953912604), 2000, p. 27-28

Percy Shakespeare’s largest painting, The Rasp Grinders, was commissioned by the Hope Works Company, Dudley. The company forged (mainly by hand) hand tools and small foundry equipment. For many years the painting hung in the company board room; subsequently it was displayed as a long term loan at Dudley Art Gallery.

Shakespeare sets his scene in a typical workshop, built of brick with a raftered roof.  He depicts three workmen toiling away as sparks fly from the grindstone. It was common practice for the chair of the labourer to be chained to the  floor, in case the grind wheel exploded, taking the workman with it.


This painting appears as PS66 in Robin Shaw’s catalogue raisonne of Percy Shakespeare.

We are grateful to Robin Shaw and James Witchell for their assistance.

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Percy Shakespeare
1906 - 1943

Shakespeare trained at Dudley Art School and later studied and then taught at Birmingham School of Art. His carefully organised, flatly painted compositions in oils, in which great attention was paid to the outline silhouette of each individual figure, were exhibited at the RA between 1934 and his death in an air raid. He also exhibited at the Paris Salon and the RBSA. In spite of his early demise his oeuvre has undeniable charm – his essentially suburban, and peculiarly English, compositions are drenched with colour and light and despite sometimes appearing to verge on caricature are usually carried off with great panache.

Selected Literature
Robin Shaw, Percy Shakespeare: Dudley’s Painter of the Thirties, published by Robin Shaw (ISBN 0953912604), 2000.

With thanks to


Percy Shakespeare (1906 - 1943)
The Rasp Grinders, 1930
Percy Shakespeare (1906 - 1943)
View from the Artist’s Bedroom, Wren’s Nest, mid 1930’s