Enid Marx

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Enid Crystal Dorothy Marx, FRSA (20 October 1902 – 18 May 1998) was an English painter and designer. She was a distant cousin of Karl Marx.[1]


Born in London, Marx was educated at Roedean School, the Central School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal College of Art, which she left in 1925,[2] having failed her diploma. Much later the college awarded her an honorary degree.[3]


After leaving the Royal College she went to work for the textile designers Phyllis Barron and Dorothy Larcher at their studio in Hampstead, having been introduced to them by the potter Norah Braden.[1] A year later she started her own workshop designing and making hand-printed textiles. Her work was sold through the Little Gallery, off Sloane Street, and later at Dunbar Hay gallery.[1]

In 1929 she began designing book covers, starting with one for a volume on the engravings of Albrecht Dürer. Marx received further commissions from Chatto and Windus.[1] Her later designs included the covers for Scott Moncrieff's translation of Proust. In 1937[3] She was selected by the London Passenger Transport Board to design the moquette seat fabrics for use on the seats of London buses and tube trains.[1]

During the Second World War, she began writing and illustrating her own small format children's books[1] with titles such as 'Bulgy the Barrage Balloon and The Pigeon Ace.[3] The Pilgrim Trust commissioned 14 watercolours of buildings under threat from bombing from her,[1] for its "Recording Britain" scheme.[3] In 1943, the furniture designer Gordon Russell invited her to become a member of the Board of Trade "Utility Furniture" team. She became responsible for its range of textiles.[1]

After the war she began working again for publishers, especially Penguin Books.[1] She also designed the frame around the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the British low value Wilding series definitive stamps[4] and the 1976 Christmas stamp issue featuring medieval embroidery. In 1965 she became Head of Department of Dress, Textiles and Ceramics at Croydon College of Art. She stayed for five years, before leaving to concentrate on her own work.[1]

Personal life[edit]

During the late 1950s and 1960s, Marx lived with her partner Margaret Lambert in St Andrews, Scotland.[citation needed]

Popular and traditional art[edit]

From the late 1930s Marx and Lambert began collecting of popular ephemera, such as scrapbooks, valentines, paper peepshows, children's books, Staffordshire dog figurines and toys.[5] They used their collection as the basis for a book entitled When Victoria began to Reign, published by Faber and Faber in 1937. In 1947 they published English Popular and Traditional Art. (in the Collins "Britain in Pictures" series), and in 1951 English Popular Art was published.[1][6]

In the introduction to the 1947 book they defined their subject as "the art which ordinary people have, from time immemorial, introduced into their everyday lives, sometimes making it themselves, at others imposing their tastes on the product of the craftsmen or of the machine".[7] Marx and Lambert's collection of popular art was put on display at Compton Verney House in 2004.[3]

Marx died in London on 18 May 1998, aged 95.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Fay Sweet (19 May 1998), Obituary: Enid Marx, The Independent 
  2. ^ Enid Marx RDI (1902-1998), VADS 
  3. ^ a b c d e Eve, Matthew (November 2004). "Full Marx". The World of Interiors: 146. 
  4. ^ Royal Mail (2003), The Wilding Definitive Collection II, Royal Mail 
  5. ^ "Marx-Lambert collection". Compton Verney. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  6. ^ Frances Spalding (1990). 20th Century Painters and Sculptors. Antique Collectors' Club. ISBN 1 85149 106 6. 
  7. ^ Marx, Enid; Lambert, Margaret (1947). English Popular and Traditional Art. Britain in Pictures. London, UK: Collins. p. 7.