Richard Shirley Smith (CR 1966-70)

Former Marlborough College Head of Art, Richard Shirley Smith’s distinguished career has spanned over 50 years as a painter, draughtsman, illustrator and wood engraver of great distinction.

His fine work was sought by friend, book designer, typographer and Head of Publications at the Tate Gallery, Iain Bain, who asked him to contribute drawings for vignettes and endpapers for The Highgrove Florilegium, published in 2008. This Royal florilegium displays a representative selection of species from every facet of the great garden of His Majesty King Charles III and Queen Camilla at their home in Gloucestershire. Limited to 175 editions, set number 1 is held by His Majesty, who wrote the Preface and signed them all. 

Richard’s drawings of the special features of the garden include, the Princes’ tree house, the dovecote and the flock of Indian Runner Ducks. He also crafted elegant cartouches for the half titles and a series of vignettes for use as head and tail pieces as well as the attractive floral device stamped onto the spine. His redrawing of the Prince of Wales’s feathers for the title-page, spine and front board lettering is said to be ‘the best version of the badge yet devised.’

The feathers were also used on the front cover foil blocking of the Transylvanian Florilegium in 2018, commissioned by His Majesty the King to draw wider attention to the precious flora of the country and as record for conservation.

Richard met and was personally thanked by King Charles III for his work on both publications.  First at Highgrove in 2008 and then at the Romanian Embassy in 2018.

Richard’s work features in the 2013 reproduction and modernisation of Mark Catesby’s Natural History first published 1712-16. Richard’s royal cartouche for the half-plate titles and the crown for the front board, dedicated to George III who bought the collection, are now held in the Royal Library at Windsor. 

He also illustrated the Marlborough College crest that we use for our Prize Giving bookplates.