Dates: b. 1917-d. 2008
Richard ‘Dicky’ Chopping was born in Colchester and became famous for his collaboration with Ian Fleming, designing nine of the book covers for the James Bond series and developing a style which is synonymous with the franchise.
During the 1930s Dicky studied theatre design in London and was part of a hedonistic set of young gay artists which included John Minton, Keith Vaughan, Robert Mcbride and Robert Colquhoun, it was at this time that he met his life partner Denis Wirth-Miller (1915-2010) and by 1945 the pair had settled in Wivenhoe. Chopping was predominantly a commercial artist, illustrating a number of publications through the 1940s, including an ultimately doomed comprehensive study of the flora of the British Isles with Francis Partridge commissioned by Penguin Books, the 22 volume project was cancelled after seven years work. Chopping later had some critical success as an author, he also taught at Colchester Art School and The Royal College of Art.
During a joint exhibition with Francis Bacon in 1956, his trompe l’oeuil style attracted the attention of Ian Fleming’s wife Ann, he was duly commissioned to design the cover for ‘From Russia with Love’ and further covers followed.
Chopping worked in watercolour on a miniature scale, in later life he bemoaned the association with James Bond which he felt overshadowed his career. His trompe l’oeil paintings are scarce and sought after when they emerge at auction. In 2016 Reeman Dansie sold ‘Artichokes’ for £2,200, a record auction price for the artist.