Leon Underwood (1890 − 1975)

Leon Underwood was born in London. He studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic, London and at the Royal College of Art, London and later at the Slade School of Fine Art, London. Primarily a sculptor, his significance in the history of wood engraving is that in the art school he ran in London, a group of young artists discovered engraving for themselves, as he was inspirational teacher of drawing who greatly influenced their style. The group included Gertrude Hermes, Blair Hughes-Stanton and Henry Moore. Although only a few years older than his students Underwood shared their sense of discovery and made a number of engravings himself, and, later, many coloured prints remarkable for their technical command. He discovered African art through a British Council sponsored lecture tour of West Africa and Harvest Corn in the British Council collection reflects this interest.

Glossary (2)

  • Drawing

    The depiction of shapes and forms on a flat surface chiefly by means of lines although colour and shading may also be included. Materials most commonly used are pencil, ink, crayon, charcoal, chalk and pastel, although other materials, including paint, can be used in combination.

  • Engraving

    An intaglio process whereby lines are cut into a metal or wood plate using an engraving tool (a burin), which is pushed in front of the hand to achieve a sharp controlled incision capable of great delicacy. This technique requires a great deal of control and is not suited to spontaneous mark-making.

Work Themes (4)

Past exhibitions


  • 1998
    • Slovakia, Kosice, State Gallery
    • Poland, Warsaw, National Museum
  • 1996
    • Philippines, Manila, Metropolitan Museum
    • Japan, Kawaguchiko Museum
    • Japan, Hokkaido, Obihiro Museum
  • 1995
    • Japan, Koriyama, Koriyama City Museum
    • Japan, Kanagawa, Kanagawa Prefectural Museum
    • Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, National Art Gallery
  • 1994
    • India, Calcutta, Centre Of International Modern Art
    • India, Santiniketan, Kala Bhavana Visva Bharati
    • India, Bhopal, Bharat Bhawan
    • India, Jaipur, Jawahar Kala Kendra
    • India, Chandigarh, The Government Museum And Art Gallery
    • Bangladesh, Delhi, Bengal Art Lounge
    • Sri Lanka, Colombo, British Council Office - Colombo
    • Sri Lanka, Kanda, British Council Office - Kanda
  • 1993
    • Australia, Newcastle, Newcastle Region Art Gallery
  • 1992
    • Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, National Gallery Of Zimbabwe In Bulawayo
    • Zimbabwe, Harare, National Gallery Of Zimbabwe
    • Kenya, Kisumu, British Council Office - Kisumu
    • Kenya, Mombassa, British Council Office - Mombassa
    • Kenya, Nairobi, British Council Office - Nairobi
    • Zambia, Lusaka, MPAPA Gallery


  • 1950
    • Fiji, Suva, Fiji Arts Club
  • 1949
    • New Zealand, Hamilton, Waikato Museum Of Art & History
    • New Zealand, Rotorua, Society Of Arts
  • 1948
    • New Zealand, Auckland, Aukland City Art Gallery
    • New Zealand, Wellington, National Art Gallery
    • New Zealand, Napier, Napier
    • New Zealand, Wanganni
    • Australia, Brisbane, Queensland Art Gallery
    • Australia, Art Gallery Of New South Wales
  • 1947
    • Australia, Hobart, Hobart
    • Australia, Melbourne, Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building
    • Australia, Adelaide, Art Gallery Of South Australia
    • Australia, Perth, Art Gallery Of Western Australia
    • UK, London, Victoria And Albert Museum


  • 1940
    • USA, Chicago, Arts Club Of Chicago
    • USA, Boston, Museum Of Fine Arts
    • USA, Toledo, Toledo Museum Of Art
    • Canada, Art Association Of Montreal
    • Canada, Art Gallery of Toronto
  • 1939
    • Canada, National Gallery Of Canada
    • USA, New York, British Pavilion World's Fair


  • 1939
    • Sweden, Stockholm, Liljevalchs Konsthall
    • Finland, Konsthalle
    • Poland, Warsaw, Instytut Propagandy Sztuki
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